A few weeks ago I had the great privilege of working with Dawn Woodward and Ed Rek of Evelyn’s Crackers in Toronto through a Slow Food Toronto event. We made wood fired pizza using locally grown and sourced topping. In my opinion, one of the most underdeveloped ideas in local food is locally grown, whole grains being featured. This was the case in pizza dough at the event.
What is Whole Grain Flour?
Why is whole grain flour so important? What many consumers don’t know is the majority of the flour and baking products we use is from sifted flour. Sifted flour, removes the bigger pieces of ground wheat berries to make the flour more refined and similar sized. Why is this so different? The majority of the nutrients in grains are located in the bran (outside) and germ (inside) of the kernal. What most of us are eating when we eat commodity produced flour is the endosperm of the kernel where there aren’t that many nutrients, and they are just empty calories.
How does this affect the Local Food Movement?
Chef Dan Barber has a quote he is becoming famous for saying: “6 to 7% of the food we eat is made up of fruits and vegetables; 60 – 70% of the food we eat is made with grains. If we want to take a dent out of the food systems and transform it to locally produced and grown by local farmers, we should be focusing on grains versus what most people buy at regional farmers markets and with a focus on fruits and vegetables.”
Slow Food and why it is so Different
Dawn and Ed from Evelyn’s Crackers have been ahead of the curve in Canada for quite sometime because they have been pushing for unsifted flour in baking for years. At the event, I got to talk to some of the leaders of the Slow Food Toronto team and to hear them saying that we need to build relationships between rural and urban communities, have more biodiversity in our seeds and food, protect our culinary traditions and know your farmers, was so inspiring!
This is exactly where #foodstartshere came from. If we fail to realise that our food system needs urban consumers to pay a fair and profitable price for their food to farmers, and the rural community to realise that without our urban consumers we don’t have the place to sell our well-grown food; we are in serious trouble. I have always viewed it from the rural lens but seeing and hearing it from the urban environment was very refreshing. (and tasty!)
Pizza is such a simple food and yet best enjoyed in a group setting around the dinner table and with engaging conversation. And that is what food is supposed to do; bring people together to talk about the issues in a convivial fashion where we all leave with a full tummy and full mind.