Grain by Grain, is more than the story of how organic farmer Bob Quinn sought to revive and cultivate an ancient variety of Khorasan wheat on his family farm in Montana. The book is also an insightful analysis of the value-extractive model of our current system of agriculture and how it undermines our health, independence, and global stewardship goals.
Bob Quinn follows an ethical and agricultural philosophy fundamentally based on enhancing and regenerating value. The ancient strain of Khorasan wheat that he grows organically, and sells to various organic bakers, pasta and cereal companies under the name Kamut™, has significantly higher nutritive benefits than commercial wheat. Studies also show that consuming this ancient variety results in significantly less of the systemic inflammatory digestive reactions often attributed to gluten intolerance.
With the help of talented journalist Liz Carlyle, Grain by Grain tells how Bob, a trained plant biochemist, first became inspired by organic agriculture in the late 1970’s, and thereafter began to adopt and employ organic and regenerative farming methods (plus a few of his own) on his family farm in Montana.
More importantly, the book conveys Bob’s determination to create and sustain an agricultural enterprise focused on nurturing value in the broadest sense, seeking “closed-loop” sustainable practices to empower both his farm and community. By selecting seeds for nutrition rather than yield and growing non-chemical soil inputs in the form of “cover crops”, he supports the vitality of the soil, makes the grains more nutritious, and enhances the economic independence of his community.
Another example of Bob’s broad value approach to agriculture is found in the way he sets a suitable “price-to-value ratio” on both the cultivation and marketing of his grain. Though the wheat is priced at three times the rate of “conventional” varieties, in contracts with associated farmers, Bob demands they limit the percentage of their farm land devoted to its cultivation at any given time. This removes the economic incentive to deplete the soil for profit and encourages farmers to regenerate their fields with cover crops during the off-seasons.
By planting global goals directly into the groundwork of his contracts, Bob is able to create a more holistic approach to the business of farming, keeping financial profit within the context of a larger ecological and social perspective.
“Organic is more than an industry or a bottom line,” writes Bob, 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.”