dispatch

18 december 2015

 

We have spent this week, last week, and the coming week inviting chefs to see our new mill. (And if you haven’t seen it, please schedule a visit with us). We cannot underscore enough the importance of fresh whole grains for the community: they are the fundamental architecture of any/all cuisines. Think about it: wheat in Europe, corn in Central and South America, rice in Asia and the Sub-Continent, sorghum in Africa. And there is not one single company in New Orleans doing what we do—no coffee company sourcing, importing, storing, and roasting single origin beans; no brewery working with farmers; no chefs making a splash with organic permaculture. We’ve spent the past six years researching, investigating, calling (and being hung up on), making mistakes, investing in re-establishing this system, this grain hub. It’s not sexy, it’s not rock and roll, it’s not worthy of (current New Orleans’) “journalists”: it is delicate, undervalued, time-consuming, expensive, and necessary. (History will remember the architect, but never the mason). This is where we’re coming from, but not where we’re going. With each visit (Alon from Shaya, Taylor from Lilette, Melissa from Curious Oyster, Dave from Emeril’s, Chris from Merchant, Megan from Gracious Bakery, Jess from Paladar) we attempt to re-purpose people’s perspective. Flour is not just flour; it is a substance as alive as our blood. And it is the blood of a cuisine’s body; until we begin to substitute and eventually eliminate dead white flour from our diets and cuisine, we are reneging on the contract between flavor and nutrition: we will be failing our children, our ecology, and ourselves. Watching people’s positive experience of eating whole grains (our ciabatta, our country bread, our grits) has carbonated the evangelizing. But more than that, the critical mass will be achieved when healthy food with local integrity is not demanded, but expected. Tell your favorite restaurant that, today, now, this weekend. When faced with change, people are inhibited by the fear of moving forward, or the comfort of staying put. I look forward to the day when our city will be recognized for its content, not its celebrities—when the tomatoes we grow and the oysters we harvest will, once again, be heralded above the chef from Tribeca who opened a gastro-tipi on St. Claude. With too many people being encouraged to think outside the box, everyone has forgotten the basics. Let’s start there. Food doesn’t begin on a plate; it begins with the people and the soil that grow it everyday.

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