bake - February 2018 - 41

sick. Protein and falling numbers are super important, but as
more small farmers get involved, we are going to have to get
wheat tested."
For Vermont grain farmers, for instance, the mycotoxin
Deoxynivalenol (DON) can be an issue, especially when cool
and wet conditions occur in June. Consumption of contaminated grains at DON levels of greater than 1 ppm in humans can
cause illness.
We move on to the topic of heritage grains, and I pose a
question: Will consumers ever be connected to the specific
variety of grain in their favorite bread, much like they are
already with wine?
"Yes, there is a taste benefit of freshly milled flour," Hamelman
says. "I can taste the difference between Pinot and Beaujolais,
but I can't taste Red Fife in flour."
"I wonder if there's a point when you could taste the varietal,"
Philip says, "but, really, you're tasting the hand of the baker. We
as bakers are the ones who are pushing the envelope."
Hamelman talks about the challenge of the sheer size of the
artisan bread movement - "it's 1% of the industry, still a great
niche" - and the importance of raising the standard of excellence for great tasting bread. "Bread should be the most
universal food. People want good bread," he says. "I think what
we're trying to do now is improve the experience for people
who are now eating bad bread. Every part of the food industry
has been reinvented, and now we are doing it with grain. Flour
was looked at as a commodity, until very recently."
"So how do you move the needle?" Philip asks.
"Bakers are increasing our skills. Consumers are going to
respond to that," Hamelman says. "The good thing is bakery is
a very fluid industry. That bodes well for the local and regional
grain movement. We'll have more educated bakers and more
educated consumers."
Still, Philip wonders how the bar ultimately moves on whole
grain content in bread. Consumer demand for both health and
flavor will have a profound influence on the future of artisan
bread and how far whole grains will go. "Health is a whip," he
says. "Taste is a carrot." | FEB 2018 > 41

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