A Letter To My Sourdough Starter

By Emily Spacek

It’s been weeks now that I’ve sat you out on my counter, started to feed you daily, and begun to work you closely into my routine. I’m writing to say that your performance has exceeded all expectations and, the truth is, I’ve been feeling guilty about it. I’m writing to apologize, and I hope it comes across, heartfelt and true, that I mean it. Here I go:

I’m sorry for leaving you in the fridge for all that time, reviving you only to sustain you for another week in hibernation.

I’m sorry for skimping on the whole wheat flour; you see, the store shelves have been bare lately and sometimes I’m a little bit cheap.

I’m sorry for not being craftier in finding ways to use your discard.

For not bragging about you to all the new people I’ve met (as devoted sourdough people are known to do). I swear I’m still just as proud.

Oh, and long due, I’m sorry for forcing you to endure that hot, bumpy car ride from California.

I’m sorry for all the things I do imperfectly, for all of the times I’ve nearly lost you.

I’m sorry for this, and I’m grateful that you are still alive and with me. That you still bubble for me; you still rise for me; you still give me that perfect crumb.

You see, the thing is, I need you now more than ever.

Feeding you every day is a constant force in my life. Though I may have struggled at times in the past, I know now that with the tiniest bit of time and dedication, you are something I can keep alive. In a time like this, that means something.

You keep me busy. You keep my hands in motion, by belly full. Grocery shopping, once cheerful and calming, is now rather anxiety-inducing. Because of you, I don’t need to hoard loaves of store-bought bread to freeze.

Plus, you remind me of the possibilities: What I can create with what I already have. What we can keep alive despite generations of industrial food. What key ingredients come from the ground: flour, water, salt. Your ancestors happened when an ancient Egyptian forgot to throw a pot of flour and water out. My ancestors have made you anew in a million ways.

Anyways, this is to say that all of this time we’ve spent recently in our mutual care relationship means I’m ready to make a pact. When the tides change again, when I start to go outside more and leave my post, I promise to remember to still take you out of the fridge. I promise to still let you bask in room temperature on your undisturbed corner of the counter. Even when this is over, know that I will still feed you, and I will need you again.

Your friend,


This article was originally published on May 6, 2020.