Blog: Where’s the Wheat? | The French Pastry School

Blog: Where’s the Wheat?

Where’s the Wheat?
The French Pastry School |
October 8, 2014

Pizza, bread, cereal, pastries, tortillas, crackers, cookies, pasta, beer. These are obvious things made of wheat products. Along with these are lesser-imagined items like salad dressings, soups, candies and gums, food batters, ice cream, and pet foods.

What would you do if we entered into a grain shortage? An increasing number of people are contracting wheat allergies, so those people would probably shout for joy that the things they have to be so careful of are less common for a moment. But it also affects carnivore-types, who enjoy beef, pork, and chicken. Livestock are often fed grains that are diminishing—animal feed eats up about one-third of the world’s grain supply.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the prices on all of these items will increase in the near future. What’s causing all these disturbances in our food sources? There are several factors: droughts in the American west and Eastern Europe, damage to US Plains crops that experienced colder and longer than usual winters, political unrest in Central and Eastern Europe, and countries are starting to stockpile grains instead of exporting what they have in preparation for the decline.  For better or for worse, these types of shortages are not uncommon—just as the climate, land, political, and economic conditions are constantly in flux, these changes balance out over time in cost, quantity, and quality.

In some instances the difference may be as easy as switching from wheat or corn to rice. In other cases, we may need to start researching and investing in other grain sources, such as “ancient grains” (amaranth, quinoa, farro, etc.), barleys, seeds, and nuts to fill in the gaps. If this is the case, it may take a bit of creativity in order to fill a pastry menu with these, but it can be done. These types of grains can be made into puddings, substituted for hot cereals, or added to cookies and granolas. Many snack and cereal companies are “puffing” grains and vegetables in the same process as is used for making popcorn. You can also use coconut flour, almond meal, buckwheat, flax seed meal, or corn meal as substitutes for wheat in baking; while wheat may be difficult to substitute in bread baking (wheat provides the gluten proteins that gives bread its structure), these may be helpful changes in other types of baked products. Hopefully the shortage won’t last long, but in the meantime, enjoy experimenting with the alternatives!

 

 

Sources: http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z, accessed 8/15/2014
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26767758, accessed 8/14/2014
http://www.agweb.com/usfr/news/news.aspx?ArticleId=303019, accessed 8/12/2014
http://www.chefs.edu/Student-Life/Culinary-Central/January-2012/Five-Alternatives-To-Wheat-Flour, accessed 8/15/2014