Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spring Wheat in Roberts Creek

I will grind the grains by hand and I think it will make flour. Then its no longer theory. I'll post another photo when it begins to turn golden with the help of the late summer days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I am on a quest. I call it a quest since in the common terminology; a quest is an exploration of magnitude and quite often involves setting goals, engaging in a search, enduring some trials along the way and, if the quest is successful, involves being rewarded at the end. The reward that I seek from this quest is not treasure or fame. The only reward I desire is being able to be a part of a significant transformation, or re-invention of a significant component of our food system: the re-introduction of local grain. A person who embarks on a quest alone is asking to fail. Cooperation among those with a variety of knowledge is the only way.

I feel such a transition will be both challenging and inspiring. Challenging because it will involve thinking about what we are willing to trade in order to practically challenge the way our grains are produced and transported. Inspiring because I feel it will be an exercise that involves forming a network of people who find pride in proactively forming a locally-based ‘grain chain’. When the globetrotting system of our food ‘products’ breaks down because it cannot sustain itself the chain itself and the idea of this type of arrangement will not come as a shock to the larger population. People will be able to say “Local grains are possible and practical. Sure it costs a little more in the short run, but I can get a loaf of bread at Bakery X that was made from wheat or rye grown organically in Mission. This close-to-home system is something we ought strive for further in coming times”.

Local food is given a social relationship when it based in a local region and perceived as a necessary ecological and cultural component of that region. The excitement of moving products around the globe and gratifying ourselves with any taste sensation we want whenever we want it has taught us to overlook the potentials of our own local circumference; also known by some as a bioregion. Bioregionalism is by some standards, a theory of living and exchanging fairly (with both other people and the surrounding ecology) that is ‘place based’ or in other words, has boundaries. In direct opposition to the dominant food system which has neither allegiance to or is limited by regional, national or continental boundaries, Bioregionalism involves consuming and producing with the idea of ‘place’ in mind and therefore is a most appropriate theory to apply to the idea of a local grain movement. In this new food system, the choice for local grains is there. Right now, it’s not even an option because of the pressure and expectations put on the local system by its ‘subservient’ role in the global one.

It is not in our history to be so separated from our food. This public dialoguing space may be only a ‘drop in the bucket’ in terms of how we really make this happen. However, I believe that it is a drop that will coalesce with others through time to quench the thirst of a parched system searching for a way to adapt to and confront the challenges posed by the future of our food system. Collaboration and networking will turn theory to practice and longevity is key to keeping the momentum alive as part of the ‘permanent landscape’ rather than a passing phase.

The Prophecy of local grain

...And in the sixth year after the double thousand mark the people of Salmonopolis* will dream about fields of golden grains. They shall begin to wonder about bread and cakes. "Wheat and Rye do not abound us, yet still we eat breads" they will say. And their eyes will be opened and they will see the trails of pollutants that mark the path that the grains must travel, across the plains for days and over the lofty mountains, then down through the valleys and canyons towards the sea. From out the community there will rise a plan. And it will focus on the local and the natural and it shall teach them the language of local grain. It will rejuvenate the noise of the millstones and offer the aroma of rising bread on the streets. Bakers can work with local ingredients making their loaves fresher and healthier. And the empty space in between the people and their grains will narrow, ushering in a new sense of connection with the land and its beneficance. And this shall act as symbol to others who wish to follow.

*The name given to the Bioregion encompassing roughly the Lower Fraser Valley Region of British Colombia, Canada and extending downwards into the state of Washington. Bioregions can be seen as physical and social geography outlining a unique ecological and ecosocial space and place.