Most of the US forgets – or is simply ignorant of the fact – that the Northern Great Plains are a major part of the nation’s “bread basket.” They’ve been raised to think that wheat comes from Kansas. Our goal at GoodFood World is to stimulate discussion by reporting on the critical issues affecting the production and use of organic wheat and other grains, especially the challenges to small-scale organic family farms, millers, and bakers.
For those who are trying to farm in the Palouse region of eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and northwestern Montana, there is only one name for it – Dryland Farming.
Bread went from being a major part of our ancestors’ food intake to being a very small part of the food we eat today. Heavy, rich, and nutritious bread was once a daily staple; today commercial “industrialized” bread is produced in fully automated factories and is full of chemical additives and preservatives, too much salt, and has too little nutritive value. What went wrong?
Our “National Hymn,” America the Beautiful, opens with the image of endless skies over fields of ripe golden grain that reach to purple mountains on the horizon. Poet Katharine Lee Bates would probably be appalled to realize that she was eulogizing one of the worst examples of mono-cropping in existence – second only to the carpeting of Iowa with corn.
Then one day, in June of 2007, Kevin was checking Craig’s List for bargains and came across this ad: “Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill for sale…” Kevin didn’t know a thing about flour or milling, but he was willing to learn and to work hard.
Baking pies – pizza or apple – doesn’t need to be tricky or intimidating! Some flour, some salt, some water, maybe some yeast or fat, and there you go. Start with the best ingredients you can find and you can’t go wrong.
Daryl Lasilla, grain farmer, grows buckwheat, barley, spelt, and lentils in just outside of Great Falls, in north central Montana. Soft-spoken and dedicated to organic production, Daryl has befuddled his neighbors growing conventional grain; especially when his organic spelt tops 4 1/2 feet high!
Whether it’s the urge to start a small bakery to sell a better loaf to the community or just a wish to make and eat a better loaf of bread than that available at the grocery store, the poor quality and poor nutritional state of our daily bread sends hundreds to gatherings like the Kneading Conference West to learn more.