Grain by Grain is not simply the story of how organic farmer Bob Quinn sought to revive and cultivate an heirloom variety of wheat. It is also a thoughtful critique of the value-extractive model that underlies our industrial system of agriculture.
Kamut™ is the name of the ancient strain of Khorasan wheat Quinn grows on his family farm in Montana and contracts with associated farmers to cultivate organically. Studies show Kamut™ to be not only more nutritious than commercial wheat varieties, consuming it also causes far less of the inflammatory-type digestive reactions often mistaken for gluten intolerance among wheat-sensitive people.
Educated in biochemistry, Quinn first became inspired by organic agriculture in California in the early 1970’s. Shortly thereafter he decided to to adopt organic and regenerative farming practices back on his family farm in Montana.Over the last fourty-odd years Quinn has explored a variety of “closed-loop” solutions on his farm designed not just to generate profit for himself, but also to create surplus value for his community.
Following a holistic rather than extractive model, he selects seeds for nutrition rather than yield and exhorts the vitality of the soil with the use of cover-crops rather than chemical fertilizers. In this way Quinn cultivates the highest “price-to-value ratio” for his crop, customers, community, and planet.
One way he boosts planetary value is to set limits on the percentage of land the farmers who raise his crops may devote to its cultivation in any given season. In this way, Quinn removes their economic incentive to over-cultivate the land and deplete the vitality of the soil.
“Organic is more than an industry or a bottom line,” he writes, 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.”