Today I received some April bearded heritage spring wheat from the Brockwell Bake (Awesome crowd) – this pack of seeds begs a question – where does your bread originate from?
At doughies our sourdough bread is good wholesome #realbread – just flour, water, salt and time. But there’s an elephant in the room with our bread, systemic of the food industry we live in. It’s about our bread’s true origins. There are three ingredients which you can weigh out in scales (you can’t weigh out love and time!) – salt, flour and water. Two of these (salt and water) we know their origins explicitly (herbridean sea salt extract salt from seawater at Isle of Lewis, and Scottish Water suck from nearby boreholes adjacent to the river Lochy). But not so for the flour. Albeit we buy organic and/or stoneground flour from good mills that we love and know, and they in turn source from good wheat suppliers, the origin of the wheat berry itself (before the miller gets it) is a bit opaque / shady. At one mill we saw a grain delivery from Kyrgystan unloading wheat for milling – having driven across eastern Europe to get there – essentially we import a lot wheat berries in the UK from Agri-corporations planting in fields in Canada, Eastern Europe and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, wheat does grow in the UK, and a % surely goes into some of our flour/bread -but confidently can I tell you the origins of our flour? No. You really need to personally know the network of fields and farmers supplying the miller by name to remove this elephant in the flour bin…
But it wasn’t always this way – take us in the highlands for example – we live in a crofting community which historically would have sown and harvested cereal each year as part of the crofting year (primarily oats due to the wet/short growing season in the highlands, as mainstream wheat doesn’t fair so well come harvest time) – but a lot of the land previously cropped is now un-used or pasture for sheep, and old cereal equipment rusts forgotten under trees. But oats in particular could be done locally to Doughies, and with some graft so could older heritage or Nordic lines of wheat and rye.
Good news is change is building – there is a bit of a grain uprising afoot – down south it’s chaps like the Brockwell Bake leading the way, in Scotland there’s an exciting project afoot called Scotland the Bread – follow the link to read more.
Doughies wants to do one thing really well – sourdough bread, here in this corner of the highlands (Fort William) but holistically all the way from crop to crust. We have the knowledge and skills to do from flour to crust. Could we though, with some help and some time do crop to crust within the highlands like days of old? And how nourishing would that truly local loaf taste?
Do one thing well – that’s enough. We want to do a local sourdough well.
Time to plant some seeds.