Food for a Year: October 17-November 1

On Cairncest Farm in Plainfield, two brothers, Edmund and Garth Brown, have resolved to eat only what they raise/grow/forage/hunt themselves for an entire year. Edible Finger Lakes is carrying biweekly updates from the Brown brothers as they embark on this food journey.

Food for a Year: October 17-November 1

I grew a small patch of field corn in my garden this year. Most gardeners who grow their own corn focus on the sweet varieties, but there is much to be said for devoting some space to corn destined to be eaten as bread rather than fresh off the cob. Cornmeal from the store is inexpensive, and on a calorie-for-calorie basis it is tough to grow and grind your own for less money (if you account for the time involved at least). Though the ultimate price is not much different for store-bought vs garden-grown, the compelling countervailing reasons include fresher cornmeal and higher protein varieties of corn. There may be sell-by dates on the store packages, but as with all flours and meals, the less time it spends in the ground state prior to baking, the better the final product. Store-bought cornmeal comes from the highest yielding hybrid plants. High total yield and high protein have an inverse relationship in corn, so a high protein corn will provide substantially fewer bushels/acres than a higher carbohydrate variety. And protein lends better texture and flavor to the resulting bread.

There are hertitage, open-pollinated types of corn that do not yield enough for modern farmers to plant. They tend to be higher protein, and are far more flavorful than the hybrids that dominate the cornfields of New York. I grew Nothstine Dent from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and am quite pleased with it. —Edmund

Brothers Edmund and Garth Brown are owner-operators of Cairncrest Farm in Plainfield, New York. They produce and sell grass-fed beef and pastured pork. They blog about their 2015 homegrown challenge here.

Read the last Food for a Year post here.

Photo by Normandy Alden

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