On Thursday afternoon a Bellingham friend texted me and said “Brooke Lucy of Bluebird Grain Farms is on King 5 TV right now!” After hopping around in excitement for a while, I scurried to the internet and located the news clip. Yes! There was my longtime friend, Brooke, right there on K5, talking about increased demand for freshly milled flour and the impact it has had on their family farm and organic grain business.
After half a century of turning to prepared breads, cookies and pastries, apparently the pandemic is reacquainting people all over the world with their ovens, some of which for many years were only used to reheat frozen pizzas and bake children’s clay creations. These days a lot of kitchen mixing bowls and measuring spoons are getting dusted off for the first time in years, or even decades. I’ve asked a few food bloggers (and even a flour ambassador — wouldn’t you love that job title?) what they think will come of all this home cooking. They say that they hope that people will realize that for many years they gave away their ability to cook for themselves, resorting to mixes and prepared foods, but that baking at home is both possible and gratifying.
Four weeks after most counties in the nation had shut down for regular business, Bluebird Grain Farms actually had to turn off its online store temporarily while they figured out a way to transition from decreased wholesale demand as restaurants closed to increased retail demand, shipping to home bakers who were turning to the soothing joys of mixing flour with leavening and turning it into something delicious to feed the family.
It has been a banner year for Bluebird. In January, Bluebird owners Brooke and her husband, Farmer Sam, traveled to California to accept the national Good Food Award for their organic Einka & French Lentil blend, and in March they earned a NEXTY Award, which recognizes “the pinnacle of excellence in the natural products industry, elevating impactful brands and products that inspire a healthy, sustainable future for people and planet.”
In the King 5 story, Brooke talks about life at a busy family farm and how the granary is handling the increased demand, but also about the bigger picture of farming, noting that she hopes that one of the silver linings of the pandemic will be greater awareness of food networks and strategies, as well as our access to food, particularly locally and regionally grown and produced products that contribute to a resilient food system.