Grain by Grain is a story of revival, both for an heirloom-variety of wheat, and for a more regenerative approach to agriculture. It is also a thoughtful critique of the value-extractive model still driving our food system, and how it undermines rather than sustains our health and vitality.
When Montana farmer Bob Quinn first decided to trademark an ancient strain of Khorasan wheat under the name Kamut™, he had the broadest sense of profit in mind.The goal was to preserve the plant’s unique characteristics, bring healthy products to market, and sustain his family and community-based business through organic and regenerative agriculture.
Not only is Kamut™ significantly more nutritious than common commercial wheat-varieties, it also has been shown to cause less of the inflammatory-type digestive reactions often mistaken for gluten intolerance by wheat-sensitive people.
After being formally educated in plant biochemistry, Quinn was first inspired by organic agriculture in California in the early 1970’s when he began to apply both organic and regenerative practices on his family farm in Montana. Over the following decades Quinn explored a variety of “closed-loop” farming solutions all designed to generate surplus value for his farm, community, and the planet. By selecting seeds for nutrition rather than for yield and by fertilizing his fields with cover-crops as opposed to chemical fertilizers, Quinn worked indefatigably to nourish both the seed and the soil with the same level of attention.
One key way Quinn cultivates the broadest “price to value ratio” in his crop is to set contractual limits on the percentage of land farmers who agree to buy his seed may use to cultivate it in any given season. In this way, Quinn also removes the economic incentive to over-cultivate and deplete the land. Instead, he encourages his associated farmers to allow their fields to regenerate.
“Organic is more than an industry or a bottom line,” writes Quinn, it’s a conversion of outlook. It’s a love for the earth, which we can demonstrate by caring for it. It’s a love for our neighbors, shown by producing healthy, nutritious food. It’s a love for our communities, by recognizing and appreciating the hard work of farmers and all the people working in the food sector by ensuring all receive fair wages to support and raise their families. It’s about human health, community health, and the health of our planet.”