Oct 8, 2015 Newsletter

8 October 2015

“Grain is the currency of currencies.”

V.I. Lenin

Our emails, once a week, will keep New Orleanians informed about the State of Grain in our city and our region. As you know, 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. Each nerve pinch 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.

Our New Stone Mill: The mill is arriving next week at the bakery. Six months of anticipation and the day is now upon us; we are extremely excited and humbled. Our mill will be one of the largest in the country and will drastically increase our capacity to process whole grains. Please stop by our booth at the farmers market to see photos of the mill, or call the shop with any questions. We hope to host an open house for the mill’s maiden voyage, so please stay tuned for information.

New Grains: We are currently sourcing some incredible grains in the bakery. All of these grains are Identity Preserved (IP). IP is term which denotes that an agricultural product has retained its integrity from sowing to harvesting. Instead of milk from four corners of the country coming to Brown’s “dairy” in Central City, to be pasteurized and homogenized, IP products are vertically integrated: the producer and the consumer are the only participants in its creation and consumption. Think of Bob Dylan playing “Knockin on Heaven’s Door”, instead of Axl Rose. Thankfully. Currently, IP grains that we mill and bake are: Joaquin de Oro, grown in Pomona, California; Brown Jasmine rice from Kinder, Louisiana; and French Rye from Alabama. All grains are organically grown. We are in the midst of purchasing 8000# of TURKEY RED wheat from Kansas, also IP. Turkey Red is an incredible wheat with a storied history; it’s even on the Slow Food Ark of Taste: https://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark-item/turkey-hard-red-winter-wheat

This Week In Bread’s History: An English customer asked a question this week about our rye bread, mentioning that it’s unlike anything he had in England. Rye has a rich recent history associated with Germany; this is due in great part to World War II and Hitler, and to a smaller extent to World War I. Americans (Cyrus McCormick) invented the mechanical thresher and “settled” the most fertile land in the world during the 19th century (the West and Mid-West). This allowed, in no small part, for the North to win the Civil War—the sheer capacity and technological proficiency—at the fingertips of farmers in the Union was incredible. It was during and after the Civil War that acreage of wheat dramatically increased in the US; this lead to Europe becoming tragically reliant upon US wheat (this played no small part in England and France’s desire to not ‘offend’ Lincoln by recognizing, aiding, and abetting the Confederacy—stomach politics). By the 20th century, the addiction to strong, affordable, and prolific US wheat was the opiate of Europe; no soil or farmers in Europe could compete with the crop yield and quality of American wheat. (Local, or regional European wheat, was grown and used on a smaller scale, often blended with American wheat). Fast forward to Hitler, and it was in fact sanctions before the beginning of the war that disallowed wheat exports to this belligerent painter in Berlin. Enter Goebbels and the propaganda war. ‘Germans don’t eat wheat bread, which breeds laziness, bloat, and all the other traits of bourgeois capitalists. They eat hardy, sultry, earthy, heavy rye bread; which creates bold men, healthy families, ad naseum.’ Rye thrives in nutrient poor soils, like those of Germany. Therefore, because the Reich was unable to import enough wheat, it relied on the domestic Rye crop and had to leaven its bread with intellectual bullshit such as race, strength, and bigotry.  Like any healthy pathology, the Reich blamed others for its own problems; poor soil, poor foreign policy, and appetite for hate. My grandmother (Thursday is her 85th birthday) grew up in occupied Belgium during World War II and she un-fondly remembers the rations accorded to wheat, and the spike in consumption not only to of rye bread, but the unforgivable introduction of “filler” flours to bulk bread: buckwheat, oats, even grass. And never forget that men like Primo Levi and Viktor Frankl ate “bread” made with sawdust and glue in places like Auschwitz.