Pen in Hand: Zooey Deschanel films food series locally, tracing bread back to Tehachapi-grown grain | Lifestyle

Highly regarded actress Zooey Deschanel and a filming crew were in Tehachapi last week to gather footage for the new program Your Food's Roots, a series that aims to educate viewers on where their food comes from, as well as how to live more sustainably.

Bread and its source — grains — were the subjects being examined during last week's filming. Zooey interviewed Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, located on Highline Road near Tucker Road. Alex is also one of the founders of the Tehachapi Grain Project, and (full disclosure) so am I and Sherry Mandell. We have been growing heritage grains in the Tehachapi area, and that's what Your Food's Roots was here to profile.

In addition to covering grains and grain growing, the episode explores bread-making and artisanal baking. In this portion, Zooey featured Clemence Gossett of The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. Clemence (pronounced Cleh-MAHN-ce) is an ardent proponent of using locally-sourced, heirloom grains and she sponsors the annual Gourmandise Grain Conference to further the growing and use of whole grains. This year's event will be on Sept. 24.

For the Sept. 8 Tehachapi video shoot, Clemence had created a beautiful array of breads, cookies, pies and other desserts that incorporated flour from wheat and rye grown by the Tehachapi Grain Project. As part of the interview, Clemence taught Zooey how to make bread, and then they sampled sourdough bread with artisanal butter and apricot jam.

The Your Food's Roots series is intended to reconnect people with the food they eat, and is a collaboration between Zooey and her husband Jacob Pechenik's new initiative, called The Farm Project, and the media company ATTN: which produces issue-driven content.

The Farm Project has stated that "at no point in our history have we known less about the food we eat — industrialized processes have shifted production out of sight and out of mind," and the organization aims to educate people about the origins of their food.

The Your Food's Roots series is slated to be one of the original programs to air on Facebook's video channel. Facebook has announced plans to compete with Netflix, Amazon and other companies in creating and streaming new content.

One aspect of bread and baking culture that was emphasized in the Tehachapi interviews was the use of whole grains. A wheat berry (the name for a kernel of wheat) consists of three parts: the bran, which is the outside covering; the small germ, which contains oils and is the part that would turn into a new wheat plant; and the endosperm, which is the starchy food for the embryonic wheat plant. In commercial all-purpose white flour, both the bran and germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm, which is the least nutritious part of a wheat berry. Intact whole grains, on the other hand, are more healthy and contain more nutrients and flavor.

In case anyone is interested in trying Tehachapi Grain Project grain, some are for sale at Taylors Provisions, located at the Mill Street Kitchen on Mill Street. This location is particularly apropos, because the street got its name in the late 1800s when it was home to a flour mill that turned Tehachapi wheat into flour. As evidenced by the filming that took place here last week, there is once again interest in flour from Tehachapi grain.

Have a good week.

Jon Hammond has written for Tehachapi News for more than 30 years. Send email to [email protected]

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