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On Soil

What makes good bread.

Good bread is more than just the process or keeping the ingredients to the big four (flour, water, salt and yeast). Good bread goes all the way back to the wheat in the field.

Good bread starts with good soil.

All of the flour I use is sustainably grown and traditionally milled so that the bread that I bake for you is nutrient rich, was never touched by any chemicals and provides for all who helped it from farm to table (farmer, miller and baker).

Modern farming tends to be driven by manufacturing; everything centers around the factory. Food is grown as a commodity (merely a raw material for manufacturing) and must conform to the needs of the factory; the factory sets the price and demand expectations. The farmer must conform to those needs.

This systems leads to a few shortcomings. First of which is that the emphasis is always on the current crop. Soil is not supporting growth? Pump more nitrogenated fertilizer in. Weeds? Herbicide. Insects? Pesticide. What will this do for the life of the soil or the over all health of the plant? Irrelevant. All that matters is getting this crop to the factory. Problems or hardships with the next crop will be dealt with then (likely with the same means).

What is the alternative?

Sustainable farming.

What does it mean to be sustainably grown?

Sustainable farming takes a "soil first" approach to growing crops. The main goal of the farmer is to be a good steward of the soil. When the soil is cared for, crops grow in abundance. Using traditional crop rotations, alternating what is grown in a field between wheat and legumes for example, nutrients used by one crop are added back into the soil by the next. Crop rotation also promotes a greater biodiversity than does adding fertilizer and biodiverse soil also provides an abundance of nutrients to the crops grown. Abundant nutrients in the crop become abundant nutrients for those of us eating the fruits of the earth!

From an economic perspective, a sustainable farm has the freedom to sell directly to a mill or to an end consumer rather than being forced to sell wheat as a commodity to a factory. This means that the farmer, miller and baker can all agree on a fair price.

The soil benefits by being cared for and nurtured so that it will foster life for generations. The wheat benefits by growing in a nutrient rich environment, free from pesticides, herbicides or any other unnatural interventions. The farmer benefits by being paid fairly to grow crop that he can be proud of. We all benefit by having a flour made from wheat that is rich in nutrients no longer found in commercial flours.

The foundation of good bread is good flour. The foundation of flour is good wheat. The foundation of good wheat is good soil!

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