From rural farms to urban markets, June Russell returns to Zingerman’s Bakehouse (where she once spent some time at the bench, alongside Frank and Amy and first gained a glimpse into the miracle that is bread) to share the story of GrowNYC Grains.
GrowNYC’s Greenmarket operates the largest network of farmers markets in the country. Working with over 240 producers who come from six surrounding states to sell directly to consumers in New York City, Greenmarket’s twofold mission is to support regional agriculture and provide access to local fresh food to all New Yorkers.
In 2007, the way in which Greenmarket bakers participated in this mission was a simmering issue, and GrowNYC wanted to revisit its policy regarding bakers, who have always been an integral part of any market. Whether it’s cider donuts and muffins from an orchard bakery or a whole grain loaf and baguette from an artisan bakery, bread and grain products are an important part of our diet. In fact, historically, grain and flour were at the foundation of any local food system.
But in 2007, was there such a thing as “local” flour? If so, could bakers use it and what would the expectation be based on availability, quality, and price point? Was anyone still growing wheat, for that matter?
After conducting an extensive review of the region, in 2009 GrowNYC created a new rule for bakers, requiring them to use a minimum of 15% regionally grown and milled grain or flour in their products sold at Greenmarkets. In 2018, Greenmarket raised the minimum to 25%. The policy has since become a model for other markets across the country and helped kick-start the revitalization and return of the staple crops to local food systems. It has also been an incredible journey that spans from the brilliant efficiencies of commodity, to the mysteries of gluten and gliadin and how they are impacted by soil, weather and digestion.
Join June to discuss regional agriculture, food access, and policy. We'll serve a spread of breads, cheeses, desserts, and coffee, so you'll have plenty of brain food to fuel our discussion.