What Happened to our Food?

Our food isn’t what it used to be. Today, a teenage girl would have to eat 20 slices of bread from modern commodity wheat to get the daily allowance of iron that she would get from 3.5 slices of bread baked from older (circa 1960) heritage wheat.

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Elizabeth DeRuffComment
Community Harvest Day

I look forward to Community Planting day every year. This is the magical day we plant heirloom wheat at the Bishop’s Ranch, a 350 acre Episcopal retreat center in Healdsburg, CA. The Ranch doesn’t identify as a farm (not yet), it’s a place for people to gather for spiritual renewal. Yet, a few years ago when I approached the Executive Director about planting wheat to be grown for communion bread, he was open to the conversation. We identified the opportunity for spiritual renewal, where wheat becomes the instrument of education for faith, connecting soil and sacrament.

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Elizabeth DeRuffComment
what's up with wheat?

There is a huge misunderstanding that bread and gluten make people sick. This need not be true except for the small percentage of people with celiac disease. What makes people sick is what humans have done to bread and gluten. As the title of my blog, What's Up with Wheat?,suggests, I've been working to identify what's happening to a food that was once known as the staff of life. 

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Community Planting Day April 23rd

Be part of our Community Planting Day of heirloom, organic wheat. Learn the history, nutritional value and agricultural principles of these grains. This Summer we'll host a Community Harvest Day - stay tuned for the date.  Next Fall the wheat will be stoned-milled and distributed to participating congregations and non-profits. All ages welcome.

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Would you like to try some bread? Episcopal General Convention 2015

The Episcopal Church in the United States gathers at national conference once every three years. This year it's in Salt Lake City. It's big, with 3,000-5,000 clergy and lay people attending. There will be nine services over nine days and, this year for the first time, the communion bread will be made with Staff of Life Flour. We're very proud of this because it demonstrates at a National level the values of the Church to support healthy, delicious, sustainably farmed communion bread (full definition below) which is consistent with our proclamation, "the bread of life."

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"clarity, texture, grace, and joy"

The above photos show the growth nine and ten weeks after planting heirloom wheat varieties called Sonora, Bolero and Red Fife at The Bishop’s Ranch.  This grain will be harvested and milled this summer and sold to churches as flour to bake their communion bread, thus becoming the first Episcopal Grain CSA (community supported agriculture) in the country.

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full circle planting celebration - the bishop's ranch, healdsburg, ca

#OurWheat -Saturday, March 7, 2015 was one of the most spectacular days.  The weather could not have been more beautiful, bestowing sunshine on our lively group gathered to plant heirloom wheat. Our pal, Lydia Ruffin, one of last year’s St. Louis Visionary Award Winners, offered her warmth and musical talent leading us in traditional farm music such as “Hoe, Emma, Hoe” and the lyrical tune, “The Farthest Field” by David Dodson.  Not long after we began planting, Malcolm Young, rector of Christ Church Los Altos, his delightful wife Heidi Ho and their daughter jumped into the music making.

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EcoFarm 2015 "There's a place at the table for everybody"

I had the opportunity to work with Amigo Bob Cantisano a few years ago.  Amigo is a force for good and stands out as one of the most experienced and influential people in organic farming to date.  He authored the first Organic Certification Program when Jerry Brown was in office the first time - he likes to point out that back then the bill was less than ten pages long compared to 4,000 pages presently. Amigo, a ninth generation Californian, coined the term "sustainable agriculture" and has worked tirelessly on his own farm and advising other famers, businesses and universities.

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