Why is it so important to know your farmer? The simple answer is that you rely on them. You rely on them to follow quality and safe food practices. You rely on them to provide nourishment. You rely on them to have consistent and available product - no matter the circumstances of the world. Their actions and investments make a positive difference and matter.
The Origin Story
Alaska's food supply chain became far more complex post subsistence farming, hunting and growing, which was its mainstay up until the 1950's. Restaurants, grocery and institutional food service demands grew, as did conventional distribution systems making it more challenging to know the people on which you relied. The economy boomed in the 1970's and so did the links in the supply chain. The distance and time from grower to consumer could easily exceed 2,000 miles and 5 days and frequently longer for both.
Alaskans recognized that their reliance on the current supply chain made them vulnerable to natural disasters and commercial supply chain interruptions. As food insecurity became a national concern, communities throughout Alaska came together discussing their independent challenges at providing access to adequate food resources to stave off hunger and malnutrition. As awareness grew, private and public resources supported more diverse and locally based systems. According to the USDA, the latest data (2020) reports over 10% of the US population (13 million) remain without access to adequate food. That number continues to rise today.
This reliance compelled Bryce Wrigley and his son, Milo to look at ways they could provide a solution that would improve food security for Alaskans. As a result, they built a fully integrated food manufacturing facility at their Delta, Alaska farm now known as the Alaska Flour Company. Today Alaska Flour receives their raw resource directly from their own farm, grown regeneratively to supports the highest possible nutrient value. Alaska Flour sells their product line into retail, as well as direct-to-customer through their on-line store making them the quintessential farm-to-table business.
"We had, what I would call a complete reset of our mind that took us on a new trajectory," says Bryce. That exercise translated to seeking out better information on soil science, human health and food processing. What occurred, as a result, is what author, Paul Hawken hails as agency, in his new book Regeneration. "It is the ability to take action or to choose what action to take."
The Wrigleys took a leap of action.
What makes Alaska Flour Company unique?
"Certainly, Alaska", Bryce replies to the question of what makes them unique. In fact, the company produced a film raising the awareness of the health benefits of barley and introducing viewers to the Alaska Flour Company. The location and beauty surrounding their farm and manufacturing facility is stunning.
In line with managing the seed, soil, planting, harvesting, cleaning, processing and packaging, the management systems of their own supply chain affords an opportunity for evaluation for continuous improvement and the ability to tell that story.