Wheat is a commodity that’s similar in some respects to grapes. It has a sense of place yet over this past century, it’s been commoditized and stripped of it’s distinctions. Listen to the educated and eloquent Chef Greg Wade of Publican Quality Breads, part of the One Off Hospitality Group, discuss the local grain economy that’s emerging here in the midwest.
Like the negotiant system in wine, Wade works directly with the Spence Farm in Livingston County, Illinois. Owners Marty and his son Will grow grains specifically to Wade needs and Wade contracts to purchase a large proportion of their freshly milled grains weekly. Talk about fresh… Wade even takes an interest in the growing practices and visits the farm occasionally to see the growing crops.
The Chicago Artisan Grain Collaborative is now emerging as well…and a few other grain mills and local bakeries using fresh ground grains (which Wade referenced)include:
Lonesome Stone Mill, Lone Rock, Wisconsin
Pleasant House Bakery and Pub which recently relocated to Pilsen from Bridgeport.
“The theory of the large farm on paper was okay but I think it’s time for us to realize that it did not pan out the way it was originally planned and we really need to take some steps to correct it,” Wade says.
Wade also suggests a good read for those interested in learning more: Chelsea Green’s Restoring Heritage Grains, a book covering the culture, biodiversity, resilience and cuisine of Ancient wheats.
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