My book is two years old, and like my 19-year-old son, having a life in the world.
You never know how ideas or children will land. One of the first big wows with my book was seeing it on the beach beside a tropical cocktail. Cookbook author Sarah Owens took that picture and posted it on Instagram; a friend sent it to me, and I figured if my book is on Instagram, I better be too. So I got an account and dove in to the fabulous social life of bread.
More gifts: Last year I was asked to be the keynote at The Kneading Conference, an honor I couldn’t have imagined when I first began learning about regional grains. This year, I got invited to The Prairie Festival, The Land Institute’s “intellectual hootenanny.” What a dream come true, to be asked to speak about change in agriculture at ground zero for perennial grains. Stone Barns’ director Jill Isenbarger led Amigo Bob Cantisano and me in a conversation about our essays in Letters to a Young Farmer.
The New Bread Basket is what led me to being in that great book, alongside Wes Jackson, Chef Dan Barber, Barbara Kingsolver, and Wendell Berry! I’m over the moon to have my writing near words of writers I admire, and I was levitating in Kansas, so glad to be discussing the invisibility of farming and food production. Right after our talk, another one of my food heroes spoke, Catherine Sneed! She started The Garden Project in San Francisco, and I wish I could take some time to go watch her work. She is a force of transformation very worth observing.
That gift of a trip to Kansas was wrapped up in gifts. I visited with bakers at Ibis Bakery, ate their amazing breads and talked with them about their new project, a café at Messenger Coffee Co with a highly visible flour mill and coffee roaster. The café is now open and these tools are front and center, ready for people to learn about the work involved in these intermediate layers of food processing.
Seven years into my journey with grains and bread, I still can’t believe this world I’ve found. What a joy to meet people who are so engaged in their work. People like June Russell from the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project. Slow Food NYC honored her with their Snailblazer award not long ago, and at the party I couldn’t stop smiling. June has worked so hard, putting her shoulder to the wheel of grains in the Northeast. To see her invisible work acknowledged was tremendous. The party felt like my birthday party, a giant party for grains of known origin. This stuff I love is really starting to be seen.
So let’s continue the party. You can read about June and the other grains all stars I’ve grown to know. Here’s a 25% discount to buy my book from Chelsea Green — use the code NBB17 at checkout.
And please, let’s keep talking about off-grid grains. Find me on Instagram @amy.halloran & @flourambassador. If you’re coming to the Cascadia Grains Conference, or Stone Barns’ Young Farmers Conference, find me. And I’m going to be in NYC at the Greenmarket Grains Stand, Union Square, December 9th — to talk about homemade mixes & grains as gifts.
Here’s what else the book has given me:
- Bread friends around the world
- A residency at the McCarthy Center at the College of St. Benedict’s & St. John’s
- Flour Hour call in baking program on WAMC radio’s Food Friday series
- Yankee Magazine called my book the bible of the regional grains movement
- A reason to invent the Flour Ambassador campaign
- Trips to Louisville, Kentucky and Los Angeles to host grain tours for the IACP conference
- Opportunities to speak at Cascadia Grains Conference & A Taste for Grain, and on Heritage Radio’s Beer Sessions with Jimmy Carbone