Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wheat and Beans

The Post writes about someone pushing the sales heirloom beans (dry edible type); the Times about reviving wheat/flour production in the Northeast.

The latter article was the more interesting. PA used to be the breadbasket of the U.S. before rust (a disease of wheat) and the availability of cheaper land had their effects. (There's an old economic geography theory that puts different agricultural products at different distances from population centers--livestock and wheat tend to be further away than dairy and fruits and vegetables.)

The problems in reviving wheat growing include lack of the milling infrastructure and knowledge, the inconsistency found in flour produced in small batches, which screws up the bakers with consequent waste. We as consumers are used to consistent products, whether it be apples or bread. That demand means a competitive advantage for the bigger operation and, in some cases, the use of more food additives. All of which creates problems for the locavore

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