Have you ever wondered about the quality and freshness of your bread, flour, or corn meal? Have you thought about the amount of sugar and processed ingredients in the average loaf of bread? Have you wanted to possess the ability to generate cups of flour from grain that has been stored longer than the shelf life of normal pre-milled flour? Well I can assure you that there is a solution!
This summer I began to dive into the idea of being able to make my own cornmeal/flour and masa dough. I did this because I grew the three sisters in my garden (link to my blog article about topic, link to my YouTube video about topic) with the hope of trying it this fall after the corn dries. In order for me to be able to use the corn, I would have to grind it to create dough/corn meal.
The first thing that shocked me when shopping for grain mills was the lack of brand selection. It seemed to me that the prices were ranged from cheap, average, and expensive/luxury. Each make and model having its own distinct advantage, but a few setbacks as well. When comparing prices of each make and model I noticed that beyond the basic electric mills there were many who chose to buy a manual, hand cranked mill.
Many decide to purchase these hand cranked mills as to ensure that they can grind grain in time of emergency whenever and wherever they need to. Though, many people tend to own an electric mill and a manual mill as back-up.
If you garden, and have the option to grow fresh grains in your backyard or garden space it is almost a requirement that you have the money to be able to grind your own grain. Many people are unaware that it is 100% entirely possible to grow high quality organic grains in your own back yard. Grain production is the foundation of society so I highly suggest that you research and try to grow your own grains next growing season. It is worth it to go through the whole micro-farming experience.
There are many benefits to milling your own grain and owning your own mill. It gives you a sense of security, quality, and connection with your food that many have lost and take for granted. I will highlight these benefits and explain to you why a grain mill of some sort is worth the investment.
1. Control of The Quality of Your Food
As I mentioned in the introduction, milling your own grain allows you to have a higher quality of grain product. It allows for you to gain quality because you get to determine how old of grain you want to grind up. We all know the fresher, the better. It also allows you to determine the variety of grain and if you would like to keep your grain whole or not when making it into flour.
Many people even grind their own corn as to increase the food quality of their livestock feed. Many note that chicken feed is made from corn that has already had the internal part of the seed removed (endosperm) as to use for corn syrup, leaving a less nutrient rich product for your livestock. This can potentially cause issues for your livestock as it may be causing nutrient deficiencies and reducing the overall output and quality of health for said livestock.
Beyond the nutrition of the grain you are eating, you also get to enjoy a fresher loaf of bread. No one really knows how fresh the bread or tortillas they are eating are because we put all of our trust into what a label says. From someone who has worked in kitchens, I can assure you that there are many instances where food safety labels are inaccurate due to small mistakes such as old labels and other errors.
Everyone deserves the right to know what exactly they are eating and see it go from growing in a field to being served on their dinner plate, no pesticides, and no herbicides. Even if you choose not to do the growing, you as the consumer should get to pick where and how your food is grown DIRECTLY. Where you choose to do business should represent your ideals.
2. Allows for Greater Storage of Food
Though there are some slight inconveniences with grinding your own grains, it in of itself is one of the many keys to securing food security. Flour lasts a relatively long time as it is (about a year or two), but that doesn’t hold a candle to how long properly stored corn and wheat berries can last.
Rice and wheat berries can be stored for about 30 years, though it is recommended to rotate through older containers within the first 5 years of their shelf life. I struggled to find reputable sources saying the same for corn, but if using dried dent corn it most likely has a similar shelf life when stored correctly. Many people store these grains in 5 gallon buckets or larger sized drums. Within the 5 gallon buckets or drums the grains are stored in silver mylar bags with the correct sized oxygen absorber, then they are sealed shut with an iron at the top and kept in a cool, dark, dry place.
This means that you could potentially hold years if not DECADES worth of flour in whole grain form that is more nutritious, cheaper, and better tasting. Imagine the relief it would bring if disaster struck and food supplies were damaged due to any various reason. It would be your hedge against chaos for an amount of time.
3. It Makes You Appreciate Your Food More
I am a personal subscriber to the philosophy that the slower you live, the happier and more grateful you feel for your life and the world around you. I know that modern life seems to punish anything deemed inefficient or too slow, but I truly believe that life is meant to be inefficient and slow. Nothing in nature is perfectly efficient, so why should we have to be.
Taking the time to make your food the long way usually results in food that is a superior nutrition and quality to that in which you could get at a local restaurant or from a can. The time and effort spent working on this meal is not in vain as you typically get a delicious reward that incentivizes your effort.
If you grow some or all of your food, this is amplified as you can personally thank yourself for planting said crop and caring for it until it made its way into your kitchen or pantry. To me that is beautiful. The crazy thing is that this was once common place, though now it is becoming a luxury.
Convenience, though nice at times can be a slow death. Our brains will naturally choose the path of least resistance typically as to save energy, though in a time when things are too convenient, it has negative consequences. In life there must be a sacrifice for there to be good. If you ignore this sacrifice for too long, you get lingering consequences such as obesity and poor health. Why is it that when we look at a historical photo from the early 1900’s no one is obese, yet today, much of our youth and adults are obese in the Western world? It is because we have lost touch with this concept.
4. It Allows You to Make New Types of Foods
For the grain mill I bought the WonderMill Jr. Deluxe because it allows for the use of a masa auger which allows for the grinding of wet grains. Previously, many people only ground down masa by hand on a stone metate as many indigenous peoples did across North and Central America. Many also used cheap cast iron, tin coated manual grinders such as the Victorio grinders and Corona grinders, though these are not as idea for versatility and have left bits of tin in people’s food.
Choosing a mill that could handle wet grains/nuts was crucial to me as I always am looking to try new foods and do things myself at home. With my new mill, I can now make things like almond butter, peanut butter, and chocolate powder. I can also make homemade tortillas, which was a huge selling point for me. I can even learn how to potentially make my own oil using this mill and a filter/strainer. Many people even grind their coffee in the mill I bought.
This amount of food versatility was a great selling point for me as no other mill is capable of this. I feel that now I am in reach to a higher quality range of items. All I have to do is buy the ingredients and crank away! No longer will I have to worry about industrial metals or contaminants in my food as I now have control!
Grains are the staple of civilization. Without agriculture and farmers growing staple carbohydrate crops, there would never be any permanent major civilization as food would be too uncertain in a given area as human population increased. That is why today, we must understand this history and regain access to our supply of grains. We must understand where it comes from and secure our grain for long term storage in case of emergencies.
Understanding the significance and versatility of this tool is important. It’s ability to transform tough grain into a delicious and nutritious meal is essential in living a free life, as what is a life where you rely on hundreds if not thousands of others people to ensure that you can eat tomorrow, or for the coming weeks. Give it some thought. Understand the significance, and make a move to get one for the sake of a higher quality life.