We first encountered Hazzard Free Farm last March at the Good Food Festival and Conference, organized by Oak Parker Jim Slama.
Hazzard Free Farm of Pecatonica, Illinois, grows a number of the usual farm products (kale carrots, etc.), but the most interesting are the “ancient grains,” varieties of wheat, corn, and similar products that, for one reason or another, never made it to modern store shelves. Hazzard Free Farm is committed to sustaining the availability of these grains, some of which have been on the planet for centuries.
Hazzard Free Farm now has a space at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, so you can get their unusual grains every Saturday morning.
Some products, for whatever reason, were never invited to be a part of the corporate supply chains. Many heritage pigs are deemed too fatty, some chickens are considered maybe too hard to process, and some grains may be thought too challenging to cultivate or harvest or otherwise get on store shelves for consumers like you and me to buy. The result is that many of us never taste lesser known varieties of pork, chicken or produce that, if not kept alive by some adventurous farmers, will vanish eventually from the earth (many no doubt already have)
Hazzard Free Farm takes those neglected grains and nurtures them, keeping forgotten breeds alive. As they explain on their site:
Hazzard Free Farm Grains & Beans is focused on sustainability first and foremost, whether it is ecological, environmental or economical; without sustainability we fail the future. We are proud to bring you a wide variety of the highest quality heirloom grains grown in the organic tradition and stone ground in the artisanal tradition…Hazzard Free Farm products are always whole grain, stone milled to preserve the taste and quality. We do not fumigate our grains through the use of gas or chemicals. Industrial mills produce flour that is altered due to high heat conditions during milling. Our flours contain the germ and bran they are un-bromated, un-bleached and un-altered by the addition of additives.
We bought some Hazzard Free Farm Floriani Red Flint cornmeal that produced a beautiful deep yellow polenta with small red flecks, very delicious and cool looking.
The Hopi Blue Corn flour made for excellent, eye-catching corn bread, moist and flavorful.
We liked the taste of these products, but one powerful allure is undoubtedly the way these grains look. Food is supposed to be attractive to the eye as well as appealing to the stomach, and okay, we grant you, blue bread is uncommon (and might, based on appearances alone, be misconstrued to be a health hazard), but Hazzard Free Farm turns out some amazingly gorgeous stuff, and we’re lucky to have them in Oak Park every Saturday.