Noah Erhun has 8 years of experience working in artisanal bakeries in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and today in Denmark where he leads production at Juno The Bakery in Copenhagen. His expertise is in naturally leavened breads and heritage grains. In this episode, Noah takes us on a ride through time and around the world as we explore how heritage grains are making a comeback with the surprising help of Instagram.

  • 1:20 How Noah became a baker
  • 6:30 The resurgence of small craft bakeries
  • 9:00 How industrialization changed the game
  • 14:30 Instagram and the alternative grain economy 
  • 21:40 What you should know about Scandinavia’s heritage grains 

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1:20 How did you become a baker?

Most farmers had never heard that bakers were interested in the flavor, texture, and nutrition of their grains.

6:30 What has been resurgence of small craft bakeries?

Grain itself has been fundamentally manipulated and shifted to an industrial system.  

9:00 How has industrialization changed grains?  

It’s breaking away from the broken commodity system. It’s focused on bringing back lost landrace and ancient varieties.

9:30 What’s the no time bread process?

It streamlined white bread production down to 45 minutes.

10:50 What are heritage grains?

There are landrace varieties, which may have been grown in that micro climate for hundreds of years. Then there are ancient varieties.

14:30 What is the alternative grain economy?

Identity and craft is being recognized again. There is a direct sense of giving back to the community.

15:30 How is social media playing a role in this resurgence?

Bakers have been collaborating on social media to help each other in every aspect of business including best practices on how to revive these grains. It’s become a powerful global knowledge sharing and problem-solving community.

21:40 How is Scandinavia different?

Most heritage grains re-entering Denmark came from Gotland, Sweden. It was the rescue ship.

24:50 How did Denmark’s resurgence evolve?

Denmark has the largest farms in Europe. The same co-op system that standardized the dairy system has been applied to bread and beer to eliminate diversity. In the mid 1990s, there were three main bread producers in Denmark. There are very few small independent bakeries left. 

30:20 What’s next for Scandinavia’s local grains communities?

More technology and a knowledge shift in the farming community as well as new relationships are being formed.

32:30 Is there momentum around this?

2/3 of Danish farmers are at risk of bankruptcy. They have the highest levels of debt in Europe despite the farm sizes and technology. 

34:00 What’s different in Danish pig farming?

The grain economy feeds into the pork economy.  

35:30 Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you that I should?

It’s easy to romanticize the ideas of returning to the small-scale food system. It’s very intense and physical work. One of the main things needed in this ecosystem is small harvest, milling, and processing technology that can be rolled out to farmers.

38:00 What will the food system look like in 10-15 years?

There will be more diverse agriculture which will lead to a relationship-based food system. People will continue living in cities with closer connections to their food. The negative impacts of agriculture will be exported abroad, but still run by Scandinavia companies.

41:10 What is an alternative route for farms? What could that be?

Public procurement can go a long way for creating alternative paths.

42:30 What’s missing to make that vision happen?

It’s a lot about tearing down silos and linking them together in a way that allows us to collaborate and test ideas. 

45:00 What collaborations are you looking for?

I’d love to develop similar gatherings between bakers to promote knowledge sharing. 

46:30 What’s the best way for someone to get in touch?