6 July, 2016 Newsletter

6 July 2016

“One huge step [in reducing industrial agriculture] would be to eliminate crop insurance and the government incentives that artificially keep grain prices low and mask the cost of erosion and dead zones. Corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, sugar, and cotton—those are the six major commodities. All six of them are artificially cheap and extremely erosive to the soil; they account for the lion’s share of the herbicides and pesticides used, and they are overproduced.”

Joel Salatin, Farmer: Virginia

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.

~ ~ ~ ~

Opening: Louisiana is most acutely affected by this ecological dilemma. Economic pantomime and manufactured consent…we no longer grow food in America, we grow commodities. We grow stocks and bonds and yields for markets: not for Rouses, or Whole Foods, or the local corner stores—but for the Markets in Chicago, New York, London. Louisiana, as noted in our blog linked later in this newsletter, receives the lion’s share of poison from this system of chemical agriculture—for those of us reading in New Orleans, we have a dead zone one hour from our homes the size of Connecticut. This has been directly attributed to industrial agriculture. And wheat is a major contribution to this erosion. So too are corn and soybeans grown for our gastanks. Of the top five crops grown in Louisiana, all are crutched by government price supports, insurance, subsidies, and chemicals: this is incredibly toxic for those who eat, fish, sleep, grow, drive, learn, and rear children in this area. Our tax dollars, which subsidize industrial agriculture, are destroying the very earth around us (and refurbishing the skyline of Baghdad). Just as our city is being eroded by the new CZO, by Air BnB, and by the commodification of our culture, so too is our ecology. But the message here is not antagonism, or binary. My message is reconciliation, negotiation, and compassion. We all need to work, to live, to eat: but the ways in which we eat—and don’t eat—have an overwhelming impact upon our neighbors and our landscape. And if we don’t begin to grow food for people, by people—instead of feeding animals, instead of feeding commodities markets, instead of feeding agribusiness—then we will fall farther down a rabbit hole which no light can penetrate. Don’t believe me? Buy a loaf of Wonderbread and tell me I’m wrong. Change is not good or bad—it is inevitable. If we do not accept change, embrace change, and direct change, then we will be victims of a horrible pain. If we rely on others to do something for us, our entire lives will be one of unrelenting remorse and disappointment:  waiting for epiphany like waiting for Godot. The land engendered us—our culture, our music, our history, our foodways—and now it’s time to return the favor, in this time beyond blame.

New Blog: “According to the USDA, the top four of five crops grown in Louisiana are non-edible: feed wheat, soybeans, cotton, and feed corn. None of those should be grown in a state where one in four children are hungry.” A new blog is up; please click this link to read more: new blog.

Modern Farmer: Incredible article about gluten, wheat, celiacs, and farming to be found here: Modern Wheat. BELLEGARDE bakes our bread and mill our flour, and will continue to, in support of everything this article claims is the right way: organic, small-scale producers, sourdough processing, no chemicals. Local, regional.

Louisiana Wheat: We are excited to announce that there was, first ever to my knowledge, an organic crop of wheat harvested in Louisiana last month. Bellegarde is working closely with the farmer to continue this important conversation and explore it for the future. It is a very gentle, supple, and silky wheat—mildly sweet and creamy—that does not produce wonderful bread on its own, but is wonderful in a blend with stronger flours. Regardless, we are thrilled to finally have found a farmer willing to learn and to listen, and to do something different. That’s all it takes…the desire to listen more than we talk. Emily and I, a public health student at Tulane, will be visiting the farm in July to discuss the possibilities further.

Buy Directly From The Bakery: Send me an email at bellegardebakery@gmail.com if to buy bread directly from the bakery. We are selling our COUNTRY BREAD on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

We are selling our COUNTRY RYE Wednesdays. We are selling our whole grain, organic polenta, corn grits, and wheat flours—stone milled fresh, in 2lbs or 20lbs bags.

Pickup directly from the bakery a 7am until 1pm.

Workshops: BELLEGARDE has two more class dates set for the year. Please visit our website Workshops for the coming schedule and email me to reserve your spot. Classes fill up quickly. The dates are Sunday September 4th from noon to 6pm and November 6th at the same time.

Acadian Miche: Depending on the forecast Norah, I’d like to do Miche. Let me know when you receive this email and plug in the information here from a previous newsletter if the answer is yes. Email the bakery and order 14. Otherwise, delete this heading!

Soul Food

During certain hours, at certain years in our lives, we see ourselves as remnants from the earlier generations that were destroyed. So our job becomes to keep peace with enemy camps, eliminate the chaos at the end of Jacobean tragedies, and with “the mercy of distance” write the histories.

Blind Faith by Michael Ondaatje