Wheat Berries & What About Toilet Paper

Winter_wheat_comp_2

A friend who farms south of Spokane gave us some wheat berries from last season's crop. Pictured above, it's mostly Hard Red Winter wheat. Our friend explained that there is some Dark Northern Spring mixed in, that self seeded from the previous year's crop. The Northern Spring berries have the bulging yellow bellies. Both are supposed to be great for bread, with the Spring wheat having a higher protein content. Seeing and handling the berries has got me thinking I might have to revise my "Flour is Flour" post. Maybe there is a difference between the flours.

Now we can finally use the flour mill we bought on ebay. While we've had plenty of locally sourced flour, the local sources of wheat berries have been sold out, I assume because of shortages. The word on the street is that everything has doubled in price over the last six months; wheat, hay, alfalfa, you name it. It's no wonder food prices in the stores are going up and supplies are tightening. I wonder, at what point does our practice of shipping foods long distances no longer makes economic sense?

Not that it makes sense right now. For example, we export hay from the Inland Northwest to feed cattle in Japan, but because of rising hay and grain prices we will be relying more and more on beef imports from New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. Are there any economists out there that can help us understand these dynamics? 

In other news I found a source of local toilet paper today - Potlatch paper in Lewiston. Looks like we won't have to make our own after all. Technically we've got toilet paper on our list of medical/health exemptions, but we haven't run out of the supply we started the year with, and it's been a little running joke with everyone who first hears about our consumption rules. At some point they usually ask, "What about toilet paper?"