As grain prices -- especially those for the wheat varieties used in baked goods -- have risen drastically in the last year, many farmers have reconsidered wheat both as a cash crop and as home-grown fodder for their livestock. As a side benefit, locavores who yearn for a truly local loaf can get their hands on flour for homemade bread and 100%-local products from artisan bakeries.
At the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Eatwell Farm now offers wheatberries every Saturday. The crop grew out of farmer Nigel Walker's desire for a safer, better source of organic feed for his egg-laying hens, but he quickly realized that newest his crop could be a hit with human eaters, too. Customers can grind their own flour using a picturesque hand-cranked mill right at the market stand, though most opt to use a grain-mill attachment on their home mixers.
Across the bay in Berkeley, Full Belly Farm offers wheatberries and whole-wheat flour at their Tuesday market stand. At the city's Saturday market, Morell's Bread sells a "Local Loaf" made from Full Belly flour. Demand for an all-local product is so strong that they're able to charge a $2 premium over the cost of their other breads.
On the other side of the country, the New York Times -- in an article profiling Northeastern wheat farmers -- notes that the local flour movement is spreading like wildfire across the country:
"In New Mexico, a cooperative of Native American and Latino farmers produce a boutique local flour. In Western Massachusetts, a baking couple has persuaded their customers to plant front-lawn wheat patches. In Vermont, a farmer whose homegrown wheat flour was a curiosity when he began growing it in the 1970s now cant keep up with demand. And in Pennsylvania, a venerable pastry flour brand from the 1800s has been resurrected, made with local organic wheat."
So keep your eyes peeled for local wheat, and ask your favorite bakeries when they're planning to offer an all-local option.
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