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A panel at Fermentation Fest 2019 discussed wheat (shown here) and sourdough. 

Every time baker Kirk Smock gets a new shipment of flour from Halee Wepking's farm, it's different. It might be the same kind of wheat from the exact same field, but the moisture and the protein can vary. That changes the bread. 

"We go a lot on feel versus the formula," Smock said. Smock's goal when he sells his ORIGIN bread at farmers' markets is "for customers to realize that bigger picture, the challenges of the farmers, the challenges of the millers.

"You can go to a grocery store and buy something advertised as sourdough, but there's no oversight." 

At the 2019 Fermentation Fest — A Live Culture Convergence in Reedsburg, five experts gathered on a panel to talk about artisan grains and sourdough. Among them were Smock from ORIGIN, owner/head baker Andrew Hutchison from Madison Sourdough, horticulture prof Julie Dawson from UW-Madison's Seed to Kitchen program, Gil Williams from Lonesome Stone Milling in Lone Rock and Wepking, who grows grains at Meadowlark Organics.

On a panel moderated by Cap Times food editor and Corner Table host Lindsay Christians, they talked about milling local grain and why it matters. They discussed how regional heritage grain diverges from an agricultural system built for Wonder Bread, and what's coming next. 

This week, enjoy an edited version of this two-hour chat. A longer version may post soon.  

In September, The Corner Table was live at the Cap Times Idea Fest with Minnesota chef Yia Vang. Check it out! We also did a live podcast with chef Nyanyika Banda of Martha's Daughter in Duluth, available here

Subscribe to the Corner Table, a podcast about food and drink in Madison, on Soundcloud, Stitcher or Apple Podcasts and rate us if you like it! 

The Cap Times Idea Fest podcasts are being released all through this fall.  Other Cap Times podcasts include opinion editor Jessie Opoien's state politics podcast Wedge Issues (every Friday at 10 a.m.), the award-winning local government podcast Madsplainers and ongoing Cap Times Talks.

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Want to suggest a guest for The Corner Table? Contact Lindsay Christians at lchristians@madison.com