Imagine being able to purchase freshly baked, naturally leavened whole-grain bread from a community-based artisanal baker who purchased her wheat berries from a nearby farmer and then milled it into wonderfully nutritious, flavorful flour just before blending it into a hearty dough. That scenario is a reality in regions across the US—from Maine to Colorado to California to Washington. Northern New Mexico used to produce a significant amount of wheat before industrialized farming made small-holder grain farming impractical.
With the new appreciation for farm-to-table and engaging with local growers, there is a movement and a model for wresting our cereal grains from the commodity markets and creating local markets; for using heritage grains that are more nutritious and better for the environment and for our bellies than modern wheat varieties, and using them in delicious, healthy breads, pasta, and pastries. Think the locavore movement applied to grain.
Rio Grande Grain is working to connect growers, millers, commercial and home bakers, and brewers so that before long your beer and baguette will have come about through the localized links of a grain chain that can be thought of as extending at least twenty thousand years to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus.
Our mission is to create interest in and demand for ancient and heritage grains in northern New Mexico.
Ancient and heritage grains are enjoying a worldwide resurgence because they offer flavor, health and environmental benefits compared with modern wheat. Monocultured, commodity wheat is less nutritious, a probable cause of human wheat-related sensitivities and gut issues, soil degradation, and contributes to global food insecurity.
Photos courtesy Lia Nydes unless stated otherwise.