Columbia County Bread’s Sprouted Grain Mission
Bakery owner Doug Michael of Columbia County Bread & Granola vividly recalls the summer of 2009, when he built a pushcart and baked about 20 loaves of sprouted grain bread for the local Bloomsburg, Penn., farmers’ market. The town of Bloomsburg (population 14,000), located in the central part of the state, has a rich history, according to local officials, and one in which the turn of the century brought about a substantial change to the local economy once iron ore was exhausted and the agricultural base was depleted. Textile mills began to locate in Bloomsburg, employing many people and enhancing the local economy. Today, Bloomsburg boasts a diverse economy thanks to Autoneum, Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital, Bloomsburg University, and a downtown community of small businesses from shops to restaurants.
“Sprouted should be its own category. When people buy food, particularly online, they see categories such as paleo and gluten free. But there needs to be a sprouted grain category because sprouted fundamentally alters grain,” Michael explains. “Pre-industrial cultures utilized grain in their diets, but they all knew that grain has to be prepared before eating it.”
Moving forward, “I’m looking really closely at what we can do with Kernza. We just got Kernza in after signing a license agreement with The Land Institute, and we find it sprouts quickly and is a very clean grain. It seems to have a low gluten content as the dough lacks extensibility, but we’re still able to make a cracker with it either by mixing it with sprouted wheat or using a press. As awareness of Kernza grows and people understand the enormous implications of what it might mean for a sustainable and healthy food supply, we want to find ways of making Kernza products people love and search out.”