Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kneading Local Grain

Here is a great piece in yesterday's New York Times food section about the rebirth of local grain growing in Maine and other parts of New England. Apparently, the Skowhegan area of central Maine (home to "The Beans of Egypt Maine," for those of you who remember the 1980s novel) used to be major grain-producing region. Today, it's making a comeback thanks to growing demand for locally produced and organic food.

Being an ardent bread baker, I'm intrigued. I wonder if locally grown grain really does taste different, actually does produce a superior loaf.

The story talks about the need to produce more food locally as the current centralized system of huge industrial farms is unsustainable. I'd like to believe that's so, but I'm not so sure. Of course, prices would be higher if we were produce most of our grain in New England instead of import it from the west and midwest.

But that raises another question. Would we be better off all around - health-wise, environmentally, taste and pleasure (so French, I know) - to eat more locally and pay more? Probably. Will Americans go for that? Unlikely.

As my mother, a mid-westerner who loves France and spent years in Europe, likes to say, the French live to eat, but the Americans eat to live.

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