We literally use tonnes of flour every day. It’s in every product you will purchase from a COBS Bread bakery.
The quality of flour can make or break a loaf of bread. Our bakers know that better than anyone. And for that reason, we provide our bakeries with high quality Canadian wheat from Albertan farmers. While saying that is meaningful, recently I had a chance to visit one of the very farms our wheat comes from, and then the mill where that wheat is processed. Standing in the middle of a wheat field that you know will one day become COBS Bread Sourdough is a unique experience. Our partners at P&H Milling in Lethbridge, who turns the wheat into flour, helped make this happen for us.
On a Tuesday morning in June, Arun, the Quality Assurance Manager of P&H Milling set up a meeting for me to meet with Art Dueck at a coffee shop in Coaldale, AB. Art and his brother own and run a farm that produces many different crops, two of them being Canadian Western Red Winter wheat and Canadian Western Red Spring wheat. As you would expect, Art is extremely knowledgeable and I was able to learn a lot.
Here's a fun fact- Art and his wife regularly purchase COBS Bread from bakeries in Calgary when they visited. As Coaldale is on the outskirts of Lethbridge, now their trip is much shorter as they can visit our newest bakery in South Lethbridge!
Now, here's Art to tell you all about the wheat COBS Bread uses at every one of our bakeries:
Canadian Western Red Winter (CWRW) is actually planted in the fall. It starts to sprout before the winter, then stops in the winter, and then once again sprouts in the spring. The grain contains less protein than the Red Spring Wheat and produces a different type of bread, and is used for our products such as Turkish Bread, French Baguettes and Ciabatta Rolls.
Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS) eventually becomes our white unbleached untreated and whole grain flour, and is used for most of our other products. It is planted in the late spring and is harvested in the fall.
Art took the time to tell me, and later show me, how they grow the wheat every year. The crops are rotated annually and use the zero tillage method, meaning that the new crop is directly seeded into the previous year’s stubble of a different type of crop. This helps control the volume of weeds, prevents disease and also helps preserve the soil and moisture to ensure a healthy crop. Additionally, the tractor only needs to pass once to plant the seeds, which really helps reduce the cost of fuel.
I really appreciated the time Art and Arun took to take me to the farm and the mill so I could have the opportunity to really see and learn more about the origins of our wheat.