Select Page

Mai Nguyen, Farmer Mai, California Grain Campaign and Kathleen de Chadenedes, Slow Food California board member

By Kathleen de Chadenedes, Slow Food California Board Member

Grains are trending in the Golden State. Farmers are reviving the practice of small-scale grain production, planting heritage and ancient grains adapted to their regions. Local processors are returning to the use of stone milling to retain the superior flavor and nutritional profile of whole grains. Consumers are learning the names of grains in the freshly baked loaves at their Farmers’ Markets and bakeries. The latest floor malting operation on the West Coast now supplies craft brewers and distillers with malt derived from California-grown grains. Given the momentum building for re-localizing grain production, processing and distribution throughout the state, Slow Food CA selected “Grains” as its thematic focus for 2018.

A major part of Slow Food CA’s efforts involves support for the California Grain Campaign, a diverse coalition of farmers, processors, bakers, brewers, distillers and advocates. On the demand side, the coalition aspires to increase consumer demand for heritage and ancient grains, by encouraging the proliferation of value-added foods and beverages made from locally-grown grains. On the supply side, the California Grain Campaign forges connections among farmers who are experimenting with grain varieties and seeking solutions to equipment and infrastructure challenges.

Slow Food CA launched its support for the California Grain Campaign by co-hosting a mixer at the 2018 Ecological Farming Association Conference. The mixer followed a heritage grain panel discussion and drew close to 100 attendees interested in continuing the conversations prompted by the panelists’ presentations. Refreshments featured a variety of craft beers, the most apropos being the Long Root Ale donated by Patagonia Provisions. Long Root Ale is brewed from kernza, a perennial wheat known to have three feet long roots.

{{ image(5828, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}
We had a three bread, side-by-side tasting:
Wit Wolkering.(on the cutting board)
Patwin 515 – a Hard White Wheat
Joaquin Oro – a Hard Red Wheat

In the next phase of support for the California Grain Campaign, Slow Food CA will bring awareness of the California Grain Campaign’s 20 x ’20 Campaign to Northern California Farmers’ Markets. The 20 x ’20 Campaign enlists Farmers’ Market Managers to commit to having 20% locally-grown grain in grain-based products sold at their Farmers’ Markets by 2020. Slow Food teams will connect with Market Managers interested in adopting the 20 x ’20 goal, introduce vendors to sources of locally-grown grains, and be on site at twelve markets to educate consumers about the benefits of a revived small grain economy. Given the interest in grains in other parts of the state, this effort may be extended to other regions.

A representative from the California Grain Campaign will present at the annual Slow Food California Leaders’ Meeting in April to discuss our collaboration and, because taste education is an integral part of Slow Food’s mission, inspire local chapters to get involved by holding grain-themed workshops, tours and tastings.

After years of being maligned by a series of dietary fads, grains deserve to reclaim a place on our plates. Slow Food CA invites you to the table to break bread, drink a beer, or sip a local whiskey with renewed respect for the plants that gave rise to human civilization and to honor the farmers preserving the rich biodiversity of heritage and ancient grains.


Good, clean and fair food news sent to your inbox once a month, plus special announcements.
We’ll add your name to the Slow Food USA subscriber list and share with the chapter you select, if you please!