Monday, April 16, 2007

Post Script: A peasant loaf

I must comment that although the task is complete the bread (as an art form) is average. It is a firm and very rough peasant loaf but, a success in the fact that it is only comparable to a bag of bouncy white 'bread' in name alone. People will eat a slice to celebrate the accomplishment but might not be asking for seconds. Taste wise- it is a bit coarse, very raw and nutty. My wife and I had a piece each last night and I had three slices with Jam this morning. I imagined it eaten by more people but my family is community enough... The art needs to be developed further with more practice harvesting and processing. But there is time for all I dreamed the process would be. Communion bread, free bread with soup for the hungry, maybe not even a bread at all. Cereals, pancakes, pie crusts. The future holds many things. But I think I'll go have a slice now. It is too much of a symbol to be wasted. We must consume that symbol despite its coarse nuttiness....

Chris Hergesheimer signing over and out

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The moment of truth

One golden whole wheat loaf of bread, grown, harvested, processed and baked by my own hands. One week shy of last years planting date, the epic loaf is steaming on my counter ready to be eaten. Not only was there enough flour for one, but another loaf is rising beside this one. Local grain triumphs at this moment in time. As far as I am concerned, this bread blog is complete. A new site I have begun will focus more on the experiences of others- participatory research into where local grain fits into social life- can be found at http://localgrainchain.wordpress.com/

It was a pleasure dragging this out over the last year and my thanks to those who checked in now and then to see if a loaf would ever appear. If internet archaeologists ever uncover this record of history, they will probably ask " what kind of a man keeps 1 kilogram of wheat for a year and brandishes it about like some sort of trophy? Is this compulsive behavior or the beginning of some revolution? Take from this story what you may but the moral remains the same: Local grain has triumphed at this moment. Now excuse me, I've got a loaf of bread to eat....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The next level

The local grain initiative is taking it to the next level. Beginning this saturday, I will be providing hand milled flour blends at the local farmers market. Since I anticipate this venture will not be a money-maker (since I am using an hand grinder thus negating any notions of large market driven efficiency) I look forward to it as a chance to use this social environment and the symbol of grain to navigate a collective dialogue about the hidden magic of grain and its offering to us at this time when we need it.

April 7th, 2007 and most saturdays after that through the summer
Sechelt, B.C. Farmers Market
8:30 Am to 1PM

The Local Grain Initiative: Hand milled flour blends

See you in the community

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Social Science or Storytelling...

I like media critic Neil Postman's observations about the similarities between storytelling and sociology. Postman argues that our obsession with science creates the desire to constantly be separating narrative from social commentary with 'empirical evidence'. Maybe the local grain initiative is telling us a story, maybe it is stating the obvious to some, maybe it offers something that could be developed further to find its way into the scholarly realm. I am not sure anymore. Take from these posts what you will. If its truly a social commentary and a story about a part of the ecological crisis there is no need to classify its objectives. I am not claiming to be an expert on grain or grain systems, a master baker, a botanist, a perfect sociologist or a flawless environmentalist. I'm just telling a story.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Information transfer

Backyard Grain: seed, symbol and social capital

This workshop will cover the basic botany of cereal grains and address part of the history and sociology of grain systems. It will focus on why growing small-scale grain plots is important at this time as well as advocate the role local grain systems can play in connecting people with place. To support the theoretical premise that working with small-scale grain is a symbol of the origins of cooperative life, this workshop will encourage collectively participating in ‘the evolution of grain milling’ and involve planting grain crops on site.

Held at Edible Landscapes, Roberts Creek. April 29th, 2007. 10AM-11:30AM. See www.ediblelandscapes.ca under the Sustainable Living Arts School programs for registration information.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wheat as catalyst

“During its life cycle the grain of wheat dies and is reborn months later in the form of a spike capable of providing sustenance to human beings. Wheat is the quintessential nutritional plant. It was believed to contain the mystery of life and death and thus it became a sacred plant. One of the essential features of the Neolithic era was plant cultivation. This led to a way of life that had previously been unimaginable and gave birth to new beliefs that completely altered the spiritual universe of humankind”

Food and Culture information about Symbolism of Bread
Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Copyright © 2003 by The Gale Group, Inc.

Note** I have been practicing baking bread over the last two weeks. I have a much greater appreciation for the craft of a baker- the art and creativity that is worked into each loaf. When I am confident with my abilities, the spring wheat grown in Roberts Creek last year will be milled, mixed, kneaded, baked and eaten.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chasing our food

The years of localized and community-based agriculture in between the commonly known 'hunter and gatherer' or 'foraging peoples' and the present day symbolizes a time when humans stopped 'chasing' their food. The present 'consumer-mechanical' stage of food production still forces us to chase our food all around the globe and with heavy input costs of ecological capital. However the thrill of the hunt is gone since the complex division of labor encouraged by agribusiness giants and their distribution systems catches the food for us and lays it out neatly in the over-lit aisles of a grocery store. Growing grain again small scale reminds us what that last piece of bread in the bag on the counter is worth. It reminds us of the smell of fresh wheat and the sound of the milling. It reminds us that we commune with bread in many regards. Bread and water for prisoners and mystics of the past. Our daily bread if we ask for it.