The cycle of life

I've been asked to describe why I'm writing this column. There is the obvious - I start dreaming about dinner when I'm eating breakfast, but I've also researched seed-to-plate agriculture and food security issues in rural Honduras and Peru. I've coaxed tomatoes out of dire weather conditions; written about cheese farming, wine making and the micro-brewing industry for BC Business and Western Living magazines. I make bread when I'm angry and shudder at the thought of store-bought cakes for friend's birthdays. Holly Fraughton is a hard act to follow, but I'll do my best to entertain y'all with foodie tales and adventures. I'm newish to town, so please feel free to email me any food-related ideas you deem worthy of coverage.


There is a long-standing debate among those immersed in the annals of food history over whether the discovery of bread preceded that of beer, or that it might even have led to its creation.

One rumour posed is that beer was discovered when a loaf of unleavened bread fell in a barrel of water, leading to a grainy bevy that eventually benefited from a chance encounter with yeast and morphed into ale. Regardless of origins, it's safe to say that both beer and bread have long shaped the consumption habits of the human race.

It's not a stretch to say our modern culture (in some places, by certain faces) is becoming more attuned to linkages between systems and processes. For those in the know there is an increasingly obvious need to capture the waste created in the production of stuff we like. A perfect scenario would see all of capitalism's excess turned into something useful, be it energy or another product - anything to throw the discarded back into the production cycle for the benefit of the whole. That's why a partnership between two local favourites - Purebread Bakery and the Whistler Brewing Company - caught my attention. Even Marx would approve.

The two businesses sit facing each other on Millar Creek Road in Function Junction. On one side, the bakery is tucked into a wee storefront while the brewery across the street stretches the length of the old bus terminal. Aside from producing commodities that have survived - or even aided - the whims of pharaohs, the Dark Ages and the Industrial Revolution, the two have little in common. One's a liquid, the other a solid. One you buy in the sin-free morning of farmer's markets, the other you consume in the Viking-inspired, fire-lit haze of apr├Ęs. What they share is mash, the spent malt - barley or wheat - siphoned off the beer in its brewing stages. Mash is a by-product generated early in the beer making process - it is a pre-yeast stage so the mixture carries no alcohol content, though you wouldn't know it for all its uses. Between 375 and 400 kilograms of malt go into each batch of brew and as the brewery produces 400 hectolitres - a metric unit of volume or capacity equal to 100 litres - per year there's a lot of excess mash to go around.

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