Monday, March 21, 2011

JOT #5: Wheat

Few things are as ubiquitous these days as wheat (ask anyone who's allergic!). It's in bread, rolls, pasta, pita, tortillas, cake, cookies, crackers - pretty much anything that's a starchy carb staple, aside from rice and corn (and don't bet there's no wheat in there, either...). Well, if I was going to go local, I'd have to find some local wheat flour.

Imagine my surprise when my CSA farm, Full Belly, offered wheat flour as a special order! Turns out they've been growing ancient varieties of wheat called Sonora (a soft white winter wheat) and Federation (a less glutinous wheat good for pastries) and selling the flour. The history goes way back - before the time of Columbus, Europeans brought Sonora wheat over, and Native Americans. California used to be a major exporter of wheat before the days of "white flour," and Sonora and Federation wheat were hardy, disease-resistant wheats that didn't spoil when they traveled.

All that went away when enriching and refining of flour was developed, and all-purpose, bleached, oil-removed flour could travel across the world and be stored indefinitely without going bad. The farmers around here are helping turn that around - bringing back the protein and minerals to wheat, giving us organic, whole grains to cook with.

Full Belly sells wheat berries by the pound, Sonora, Federation, and a mix of the two in 10 lb bags. You can also get wheat from Eatwell Farm if you live in the east bay or San Francisco. Pie Ranch also sells whole wheat flour.

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