Flour to the People

Maine Grains kept its customers rolling in dough even as national millers fell behind.

Maine Grains
By Will Grunewald
Photographed by Mark Fleming

“Stress Baking More Than Usual?” a New York Times headline asked in March. “Amateur Bakers, Cooped Up at Home, Are Making Flour a Hot Commodity,” Time observed in April. “Americans Have Baked All the Flour Away,” the Atlantic proclaimed by May. The pandemic had caused a sudden boom in demand from homebound home bakers, who quickly wiped out national flour suppliers’ warehouse reserves. It took months for big businesses to mill enough grain to catch up. But many local and regional suppliers never fell behind. Maine’s biggest flour producer, Skowhegan’s Maine Grains, mills in an entire year maybe a tenth of what major producers can churn out in a day. Still, it kept right up with the surge in demand. As restaurant sales dipped, the small-scale operation was nimble enough to get more of its products — from wheat to spelt to rye flours — to retailers and individual consumers, thereby providing Mainers with a much-kneaded ingredient. 

Head to mainegrains.com for Maine-milled flours and grains, all produced in a county jail turned gristmill in downtown Skowhegan.