17 August, 2016 Newsletter

17 August 2016

“If we are going to begin turning back toward one another, to humanize one another, we need to humanize the political system. We need to make it respond directly to the problems of the people—not just to the people in power, or to the people who are loudest, but to all of the people, including, crucially, those who have no power. Those who have no voice….[problems] are not solved by turning our backs on the people who suffer from them, certainly not by punishing those people…We need to probe the soil from which these problems spring and we need to go there with our resources and energy.”

Congressman John Lewis

Our emails, once a week, will keep New Orleanians informed about the State of Grain in our city and our region. Bellegarde is the only bakery in between Asheville and Arizona that stone-mills its own flour. We strive to source organic grains that we mill fresh and bake into healthy and delicious whole grain breads. We are convinced that the health issues which plague our city—obesity, violence, mis-education, ecological and cultural erosion—are bound to the lack of fresh food. Food access is a systemic Policy issue: everyday that we bake whole grain bread with freshly milled flour, we tweak one more nerve in the System. And each nerve pinched is our desire to re-establish our region as a self-efficient food economy and re-create the cuisine of New Orleans with fresh ingredients…a revolutionary Gordian knot.

We all speak the language of food and we all seek the pleasure of flavor. What more perfect medium to communicate change than with bread? Pandering to demand in a regional food system is not as important as nurturing supply: quality will dictate quantity. Help us democratize that staff of life. Splinter by splinter by splinter. Time will always teach that the easy way becomes the hard way.

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Tanka: The Tanka is a Japanese-style poem, an elongated haiku, traditionally traded by lovers the morning after illicitly un-sanctioned time. Lovers, in the best sense of the word, share everything except flesh. Move love beyond the flesh and find it there…Its meter is 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllables.

Fate is knots. Life is
teasing threads. Ply skein, listen
needle. Stitches. Balm.
Every pattern a whispered
prayer into cotton ears.

Oklahoma Trip: I had an incredible trip this past week to Oklahoma. My visit was sponsored by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission; that is a crop board which represents thousands of independent growers of God’s grain in that great State. Not only did I eat some fresh steak and drink some fresh beer, but I bought my first pair of cowboy boots across from America’s oldest stockyards in Oklahoma City. Not quite what my folks had in mind when they left Belgium, but hey. Hospitality was nonpareil.

Oklahoma is one of the finest producers of wheat in the country, and BELLEGARDE uses a Fairview, OK grown wheat which is grown by John’s Farm. It is an incredibly smooth and nuanced wheat, rain irrigated, which Kris and her husband have been cultivating for 20 years. They are the state’s only certified organic wheat farm and we are proud to support them—they are, and they grow, incredible. Not only is Oklahoma blessed by with a progressive and pragmatic Wheat Commission headed by Mike Schulte, but they have one of the country’s best wheat breeders. Dr. Brett Carver is like Sam Philips of Sun Studios—immeasurably talented and well-trained, but impeccably driven by curiosity, honesty, and integrity. He sees the big picture, and he sees that the future of wheat, like music, is simple, sincere, and honest. He is a man, like Edward Murrow, who in an ocean of corporatism and fear stands like a buoy against the tides which are eroding our food systems, our soils, and our institutions. Dr. Carver believes the religion, as do Mike Schulte and I, that public land grant universities (LSU, UC Davis, OSU, Cornell, etc) belong to the People, not to the seed companies. Unfortunately, the past 50 years have seen companies begin to pollute our Universities by introducing royalties to breeders—of corn, wheat, tomatoes, etc—which develop the highest yielding, rather than the most healthy or the most pragmatic, seeds for these crops. High yielding crops are typically GMO and hybrid crops; that means a farmer must buy seeds each year to replant: that is, to the vast majority of human beings, sacrilegious. Like respect, like shelter, and like the right to life, we all have the right to seeds, to food. This isn’t a binary, nor is it political. Seeds are the inalienable gift—from whomever your Creator may be—to the life beyond our own time. Seeds are our ability to leave our stories behind, without music or words or monuments.

Some things—most things—in our lives our sacred. Our families. Our dreams. Our identities. Our culture. Our food. Our dignity. Our seeds. To have met Mike and Dr. Carver, along with all the other incredible people in Oklahoma last week, gave me a new purchase in my vision. It was, again, vindicating. But humbling. To see how hard and sincere these people work was jolting. Not only for the depth and soul of that work, but because they know no other way. To share with them their wheat through our flour and our bread was exceptional. It left me feeling charged, and thankful, and brand new; but it mostly was ineffable. It was that feeling of pure joy, when the look in the eye means nothing. When the handshake means nothing. When the words mean nothing. It’s that moment when food makes the most sense. When the only experience is flavor, is acknowledgment while chewing, that it’s taken 10,000 years to get this far. Or this short. It’s the burden of beauty, sometimes.

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Buy Directly From The Bakery: Send an email to bellegarde.bread@gmail.com to buy bread directly from the bakery. Orders are due by 9:30am for the following day’s pick up.

We are selling our COUNTRY BREAD, $9 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
We are selling our COUNTRY RYE, $9 on Wednesdays.
We are selling our CIABATTA BREAD, $12 on Tuesday through Sunday.

We are also selling our fresh flours: organic polenta, organic grits, and wheat flours—stone milled fresh, in 2lbs or 20lbs bags. Inquire about price and variety.

Pickup is from 7am until 1pm.

New Orleans Advocate: Local writer Ian McNulty has done an incredible job telling our story—from top to bottom—in the New Orleans Advocate. Click here for the full read.

Pastry: Our wonderful new baker Aimee is working on some incredible pastry recipes with our freshly stone milled flour. Here is a rustic galette, made with freshly milled, organic Oklahoma wheat and poached Alabama peaches.

rustic galette, made with freshly milled, organic Oklahoma wheat and poached Alabama peaches


Soul Food

“Ride the wave until it reaches the shore.”

Father Augustine Foley