Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Farmers' Market Share: Whole Wheat Bread

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

December is a sad time for the farmer's market aficionado. At minimum, it will be three months before the first spring greens are available. We're down to two monthly markets, the indoor Tower Grove setup at St. John's Episcopal Church on Arsenal Street and Maplewood's "Indoor Pantry" at Schlafly Bottleworks, as well as the venerable Soulard Farmers' Market. And, damn, it is cold and dreary outside.

Don't despair: There are still plenty of local goods to be had. Over the next few months, I'll highlight some of the offerings that will remain available despite the lack of sun and warmth.

If you want to go the DIY route and you're looking to do it locally, whatever will you do? Missouri Grain Project to the rescue. This is a cooperative venture by a number of local farmers to grow chemical-free, non-GMO (genetically modified) wheat to sell for consumption rather than the commodities market.

If you follow Slow Food tenets and/or read Michael Pollan, you may be aware that the grain commodities market is one of the primary drivers for the industrialized food system. Grain subsidies help to force production up and prices down, which provides a cheap source of animal feed for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). By selling grain directly to consumers, the MO Grain Project hopes to encourage farmers to produce grain for people here in Missouri, rather than shipping it out of state for processing and CAFO consumption.

This happens to dovetail beautifully with how I started out baking bread. At some point a couple of years ago, I realized that supermarket bread had a list of ingredients that read like a chemistry experiment, but all of the nice artisan loaves had a hefty price tag that belied their short lists of ingredients. So between that and my summer of abandoning all commercially marketed personal care products -- Dr. Bronner's and crystal deodorant 4-eva! -- I started baking my own bread.

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