‘You can’t manage what you can’t feel’: Finding new ways to assess diverse and novel wheat varieties

In food and agricultural systems, there will always be a place for measurement, but in knowledge-intensive terrain of agroecological grain production and artisanal baking there must also be space for reincorporating what we feel.

The Future of Wheat

“It’s important that we take care to do things right, not to rush, and to make sure that the power in these new economies is equitable, There is always the danger of re-building the old system and re-commodifying these precious seeds.”

Where’s the local wheat?

In a state known for its agricultural bounty, commodity crops like wheat are a losing proposition for many farmers. California grows some 700,000 acres of wheat, much of it for livestock. The state is in a “wheat deficit,” according to the California Wheat Commission; in other words, we eat more wheat than we produce. Still, there is a slowly but steadily growing hunger for locally grown and milled whole-grain wheat, a natural extension of the locavore movement. Acme Bread Company owner Steve Sullivan has been interested in sourcing local organic wheat for years, but he hasn’t been able to make it work at his bakery’s scale of production. “We use more organic wheat than is grown in California,” he says.