Have you heard about the Slow Food movement? Slow Food is about enjoying foods that are local, seasonal, and sustainably grown. Slow Food USA promotes food that is Good, Clean & Fair. It’s something I really believe in, which is why I have joined the Seattle chapter of Slow Food U.S.A.
Earlier this month Slow Food Seattle hosted Breaking Bread: A Celebration of the Local Organic Grain Harvest at one of my favorite Seattle bakeries, Macrina. October is Local Grains Month, and the event showcased two local grain producers, master miller, Kevin Christenson from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, and my friend Brooke Lucy, owner of Bluebird Grains Farm. In addition to hearing from Kevin and Brooke, Marcina’s owner, Leslie Mackie, gave us a tour of the entire commercial baking operation. What a treat!
The afternoon started in the Macrina Bakery Cafe, with a buffet of delicious breads made with organic grains from Fairhaven and Bluebird Grains, along with a white bean puree, faro salad, and artichoke dip.
Next we headed into the bakery for an inside look at how Macrina produces their gorgeous loaves of artisan bread, brioche buns, pastries, cakes, scones, muffins, tarts, biscuits and crackers. I wish you could have been there, just to smell all of that bread coming out of the oven. I was in heaven.
Macrina’s production facility runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Delivery trucks begin arriving at 2:00 am to take the freshly baked product to retailers and restaurants all around the Puget Sound.
During our tour, Leslie talked a lot about community. Leslie knows that her clients depend on her to deliver every day and that sense of connection and responsibility is part of what motivates everyone at Macrina. I always loved their bread before, but after listening to Leslie and seeing the heart and soul of the bakery, I am an even bigger fan.
After our tour Kevin and Brooke talked about the challenges and rewards of running their businesses and producing organic grains and flour for retail and wholesale markets. Since most flour available in the grocery store comes from a few huge national companies, this was a rare opportunity to hear from two companies who are supplying a different type of product to our community.
Freshly milled flour looks, feels, and tastes different from other flour. And, whole grains and organic whole grain flours provide many health benefits not found in processed white flour.
Products from Fairhaven Mill and Bluebird Grains are available in many grocery stores in our area, and you can also buy them online. If you live in a different part of the country, I’d encourage you to seek out your own local source for whole grain flour. There are small mills producing flour in virtually every state of the U.S.A.
Thanks to Slow Food Seattle for hosting such an informative and interesting afternoon and thanks to Leslie Mackie for taking us behind the scenes at Macrina!
In case you’d like to know more:
Macrina Bakery has three Seattle retail locations. You can visit Macrina at:
SODO Bakery – 1943 First Avenue South, 206.623.0919
Belltown Cafe – 2408 1st Avenue, 206.448.4032
McGraw Cafe, 615 West McGraw Street, 206.283.5900
Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill is located in Burlington, Washington. Owner and master miller Kevin Christenson produces small batches of flour and buys grain from leading organic farmers in the northwest. His products include a variety of wheat flours, corn meal, oat flour, and rye flour.
Bluebird Grains Farm is located in Winthrop, Washington. Owners Brooke and Sam Lucy grow 100% organic heirloom grains in the Methow Valley. Their specialty is the ancient wheat, emmer farro. The Lucys handle all aspects of production from growing and harvesting to storing and milling, which allows them to produce the highest quality products possible.
If you’d like to learn more about Slow Food U.S.A. –
Want to use more whole grain flour in your recipes? Here is a tip:
Whole wheat flour (or emmer flour) can be substituted for up to 50% of all-purpose white flour in most baking recipes without noticeable change in flavor or texture. You can start with 25% substitution and increase as desired.
Ready to give whole grain flour a try? Here are a few recipes to get you started: