Commercial Bakers' View on the Meaning of "Local" Wheat and Flour in Western Washington State
AbstractMost existing efforts toward revitalizing local food production have focused on fresh produce and animal products, largely neglecting staple crops such as grains. Nevertheless, there has been increasing interest in many parts of the United States in relocalizing grain production. Wheat is the most commonly consumed grain in the United States. Commercial bakers could be important supply-chain intermediaries for locally grown wheat, but little is known about their attitudes toward local wheat and how they define local. We surveyed commercial bakers in western Washington State and interviewed experts involved with local wheat movements in other regions. Thirty-four percent of survey respondents defined local as within the state of Washington, 25 percent provided a multistate definition, and 14 percent provided a flexible (or reflexive) definition that referred to two or more geographic regions. Perceived barriers to purchasing local wheat included supply-chain, price, quality, and scale factors. We conclude with discussion of the opportunities and challenges for the relocalization of wheat flour supply chains.
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