How Kansas Home Bakers Can Be ‘Citizen Scientists’ and Help Save the Planet
As 2020 comes to a close, many of us are staying safely at home and finding respite in our kitchens. The loaves of sourdough and banana bread that were so popular across the United States last spring, early in this pandemic, have evolved into the sweet treats of the winter holiday season.
Kansas bakers now have a unique opportunity to help with research to make our food system more healthy for the land, without sacrificing flavor.
Here in the breadbasket state where I grew up and live today, comfort is often associated with fields of waving wheat harvested to fill truck loads and grain bins, and with a subsequent smorgasbord of warm baked goods ranging from pies, cookies and cinnamon rolls to kolaches, bierocks and empanadas.
It’s much less comfortable to contemplate the long-term sustainability of our contemporary agricultural and food systems in a warming world of accelerating uncertainty. Soil and biodiversity loss, aquifer depletion, nitrate contamination in groundwater, fossil fuel dependence, hungry children and families, deep economic and social debts, barriers for new and beginning farmers — a buffet of hurts now threatening to hollow out the future.
It takes courage to envision ecological and equitable agricultural systems and institutions, to do the hard work of repair and care together, to prioritize sharing with those who need it most, to choose what’s really nourishing.
But sometimes courage in food and agriculture research involves fun, delicious choices — and it can bring people together to share data, stories, photos and recipes from their gardens and kitchens, including some mouth-watering pancakes and tortillas.