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maine grains featured in nyt article

Posted: August 3 2020

That Flour You Bought Could Be the Future of the U.S. Economy (link to article)

"The flour industry might seem an unlikely arena for business innovation. There was once a time, in the 1990s and 2000s, when it was widely thought that Silicon Valley would show us the way to a better, fairer economy, creating entire ecosystems of companies with distinctive offerings. Yet that was before the emergence and eventual dominance of Amazon, Facebook and Google. Instead of high tech, it is low-tech businesses like craft beer and community supported agriculture that seem to stand at the forefront of economic transformation."

Maine Grains operation in repurposed jailhouse, Skowhegan, Maine.
Image by Hilary Swift for The New York Times

"Companies like Maine Grains and King Arthur are challenging the commodity pressures in flour markets using methods that were pioneered in the craft beer and local produce markets. The commodity industry takes flour as flour — just an ingredient, the cheaper the better. But baking is also an emotional experience, an act of creation in its beauty and intensity, a longstanding symbol of the home. And it provokes, in some, a yearning to connect with local soil and local land.

That’s the appeal of a company like Maine Grains, which operates out of a repurposed jailhouse, and a new generation of regional grain companies, like Cairnspring Mills in Washington State and Castle Valley Mill in Pennsylvania. These mills produce not only whole wheat flours but also distinctive grains, such as yecora rojo, heritage red fife and spelt. Amy Halloran, the author of “The New Bread Basket,” about the local grain industry, told me these companies are making an effort to deliberately ignore the single-minded approach of the commodity market in favor of “best practices” for their regions."