Food Companies Step Up Funding for Organic Farming Research

Civil Eats discusses how Food Companies Step Up Funding for Organic Farming Research. Clif Bar, King Arthur Flour, Organic Valley, and others are providing university endowments to counter a system stacked in favor of conventional agriculture.

For almost 20 years, Stephen Jones developed wheat varieties for white commodity wheat flour, but he never liked it much. So when the Washington State University (WSU) researcher was offered the chance to move to Washington’s Skagit Valley 10 years ago, he gladly shifted gears. Jones founded The Bread Lab, a multi-disciplinary research center at WSU that works with local farmers, chefs and consumers to breed new organic wheat and barley varieties with higher yields, better taste, and more nutritional value.

Jones doesn’t miss working with the commodity market. “I like the model of keeping value where it’s produced,” he told Civil Eats “If we grow wheat here, let’s use it here in a way that makes sense economically and environmentally.”

The Bread Lab recently produced the “approachable loaf,” a whole grain bread made with just seven ingredients that’s soft, sliced, and retails for no more than $6 anywhere in the country. Jones said he was inspired to create the bread after learning that people frequenting the Skagit Valley food pantry weren’t taking his lab’s artisanal loaves because they didn’t recognize it as bread—that is, it wasn’t soft, sliced, or packaged in a recognizable wrapper.

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