California Grain Campaign
20% by 2020
Help with the Campaign
Farmers' market managers: implement this goal and talk to your bakers about how to do it together
Farmers’ market bakers: tell your farmers' market manager about this campaign and get your market on board
Community members: volunteer to
- Assist with developing educational materials about the importance of supporting local farmers and whole grain nutrition
- Conduct outreach at farmers' markets and other venues about the campaign and its purpose
- Design educational and outreach material
- Translate materials into different languages
Let us know how you’d like to further the Campaign
Flatbread Feast June 25, 2017
Mike Zakowski, world-famous innovative whole grain baker and known as the bejkr, will be hosting a feast of whole grain flatbreads, sides from local ingredients, and commissioned craft beer by Sean Paxton. $25 gets you into this bounteous summertime celebration of local, whole grains. Get more information here.
Over the past 30 years California vegetable, fruit, nursery and flower growers, cheese producers and grass-fed meat ranchers have relied on the many farmers’ markets throughout the state to market and sell their products. In fact, without farmers markets many of these farms and ranches would not be in business today. The gift of direct marketing that farmers’ markets provide has been a boon to local, small-scale agricultural operations and the communities they serve. Up to this point, one California-grown food has been largely forgotten: Grain. Grains certainly make up a significant portion of Californians' diets, yet, unlike vegetables, fruit, eggs, etc. California-grown grains have not enjoyed the presence that these other foods have in our markets. As recently as the 1950’s, California was one of the nation’s largest producers and exporters of grain, but today despite its cultivation of high quality grain California is not thought of as a significant grain producer.
There are several good reasons for this, for instance, the absence of small-scale, specialty grain growers and infrastructure scaled to support their production in the recent past. Another factor is the comparatively low crop value of grain, which needs to be marketed in volume to pay off for the grower.
This is not to say that there is a shortage of grain-based products being sold at markets in our state. There is a tremendous amount of grain being sold in the form of bread, pastries and pasta. Unfortunately, almost none of the grain used in these products is grown in California.
Over the past decade specialty grain growers and processors have been popping up throughout the state as part of the growing local food movement. Many of these farmers are reviving heritage varieties that are flavorful and drought-tolerant, beneficial to diversifying our diet and our land management. But the growers lack marketing vehicles to help this regional grain movement grow and prosper.
Our group was formed to create innovative and effective marketing opportunities for California grain growers and to educate our communities about the many benefits associated with including California-grown whole grains in our diet. We have formed a support system for California farmers, market managers and governing agencies who would like to expand the mission of their markets to include regionally-grown grains. We realize that some markets already feature locally produced packaged grains and flours. This is wonderful and we would love to see much more of this. But to provide the volume of sales needed to make grains work we have set our sights on the value-added side of the equation.
Almost all of our farmers markets allow the sale of prepared foods including bread, bagels, pies, pastries, pasta, etc. The California Grain Campaign asks that anyone selling grain-based products in participating markets use at least 20% California whole grains as per volume of total grain/flour used in the products sold (i.e. 20% of all product sold, not 20% in each product).
Bakeries have played an important role in the success of California's farmers markets to be sure. They help to round out the shopping experience for customers. Up to this point, bakeries have only been asked to show up and sell their wonderful products. We're asking one more very important thing from them, to promote California-grown whole grains/flours in the products they bring to market.
We've chosen a goal of incorporating 20% California whole grains/flours into products sold at markets in the state by the year 2020.
There will be an adjustment period for bakers, pasta makers, etc. who are unfamiliar with California wheats and other grains, as well as a possible adjustment to using whole grain flours in their recipes if they don't have experience with them. We feel that a goal of 20% is low enough to diminish the difficulties inherent in working with new flours and high enough to give the California grain economy a real boost.
Our group is here to offer support to California farmers markets, and their vendors selling grain-based products, who wish to take on the challenge of supporting regional grain-growers. We'll do this by making available updated lists of the California grain-shed. We'll provide lists of growers, mills and distributors who can serve participating bakers. And, we'll provide technical assistance to bakers on how to work with California-grown whole grains and flours.
Increasing California-grown grains at farmers’ markets will help farmers in their businesses, markets in their diversity, bakers in their craft, and customers in their whole diet. We will all benefit from a diversified local food shed. Will you join us in the California Grain Campaign?
Please send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: Farmrun