Regional Grains

Explaining these remarkable foods

Dear bread friends,

What ingredients are in the pantry of your mind? Here’s what’s in mine.

Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) released the infographic we’ve been working on for a long time! I began to wish for a visual way to express the many parts of the grain chain ages ago. Blair Marvin and I were discussing how to represent fresh flour on bread bags. Such a tiny space to convey so many connections! Elmore Mountain Bread doesn’t have a retail spot so the bags had to do the talking. Even in bakeries that have more space and time for an exchange, there’s not enough opportunities to articulate the differences in the products and parts of a regional grain economy, let alone explain the functioning of the dominant system and why you might want to support an alternative. Which is why I’m so thrilled that AGC made this!

The communications team and general network of AGC worked on this diagram for more than half a year with an incredibly talented illustrator, Amy Sparks. I am grateful to have been a part of this process. Working collaboratively on the words for this and other educational materials (we’ve been writing a grains guide for our new website also) is just a delight, so opposite the solitary wrestling I do with words on my own. 

Such conviviality and collaboration are what attracted me to regional grains work in the first place. This spirit was a part of the fabric of Grains Week, Cascadia Grains remote conference that drew together experts and advocates from around the country. I loved reading the names on each day’s lineup, recalling the excitement of the field days and conferences I’ve attended. I enjoyed the sessions themselves, both the ones I was part of, and the ones I watched. Facilitating Roxana Jullapat and Nan Kohler’s Q&A after their excellent conversation was great. Miller, baker and author Jennifer Lapidus – of Carolina Ground flour mill and the newly released “Southern Ground” cookbook – and I had a lot of fun in our taped conversation and Q&A. As did Emily Cayer, Barry Labendz – from Kent Falls Brewing – and I when we spoke about the Northeast Grainshed Alliance. All of the conversations are accessible through the Culinary Breeding Network’s YouTube channel. (Right now, each day programs are in a lump, but soon, the separate session breakdowns will be posted.) For heavy duty flour info, I recommend Adrian Hale’s talk on the history flour, Sarah Owens’ demo, and Andrew Ross’ talks on gluten and FODMAPS.

Another good piece of flour information hit the world this week: Andrew Janjigian’s article The Power of Flour on Epicurious. I love to see stories like this hit mainstream food media, especially when so carefully, and well, written. The regionality of fresh flour — despite the fact that regionality is saluted in European and other foods — has kept the food media monolith from touching my favorite topic too often. Is it because this is American food, not stamped as worthy by the history of worshipping French and Italian cuisines? Maybe the pandemic flour boom convinced editors that the general public wants and deserves facts about this beautiful stuff.  

Well, I think the starters I started are about ready for me to make bread, so I wish you well until next I write. Hope you are having fun baking and being.