Wheat Growers Join the Local Food Movement

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Harvesting wheat on the Palouse of North Idaho.
  • Guy Hand
  • Harvesting wheat on the Palouse of North Idaho.

Can commodity farmers who steer massive machines across vast monocultures become players in the local food movement?

That’s what a handful of wheat farmers in North Idaho and Eastern Washington are trying to do. They’re milling a portion of their wheat—which normally gets shipped to Asia and the Middle East—and selling the flour to local markets under the name Shepherd’s Grain.

This gives wheat farmers a chance to de-commodify their crop and take control of pricing, as well as take pride in creating something unique and meet actual customers.

As I learned while doing a story on the subject for the Oct. 19 issue of BW, local wheat—on whatever scale it's farmed—might give those customers the opportunity to try flour with local flavor and character, a kind of wheaty terroir.

Wheat growing in the Palouse region of North Idaho.
  • Guy Hand
  • Wheat growing in the Palouse region of North Idaho.