Mary Beth Bowers of Marion says she is not an expert, just a farm wife wishing to educate people about crops grown locally. Bowers will be speaking about wheat in her presentation titled “All Wheat Bread is Not Created Equal,” Friday as part of Tabor College’s Lifelong Learning program.
“I’ve lived on a farm all my life, and always thought it was interesting we raised wheat but bought flour and bread in town,” she said.
After her mother started grinding wheat for bread, Bowers was hooked and began the practice herself.
“I enjoy taking the wheat we raised, grinding it up, baking it, and sharing it with people,” she said. “During my presentations I always bring homemade whole wheat bread to share with guests.”
Bowers said she told a friend, a teacher in Newton, about grinding her wheat and he invited Bowers to speak to his class.
“After giving the first presentation, I wanted more information so I contacted the Kansas Wheat Commission and ended up becoming a spokesman for them,” she said. “It’s a volunteer position, and gives me access to their information so I can share it.”
Bowers said she changes her presentation depending on her audience. For example, when she speaks at Tabor Friday she plans to speak about how Mennonite settlers used wheat and its importance to their culture.
“My job was to haul the wheat to the elevator,” Bowers said. “I would always think, ‘Where does this go?’ and that idea fascinated me.”
Bowers said the ideas behind her talk’s center around her farm life and topics like whole-wheat vs. bleached wheat products, how wheat is cut and grown, and parts of the wheat plant. For that reason, Bowers covers a plethora of wheat information during her presentations.
“We’ve got to use what we have here, locally,” she said. “It’s such a big part of our local economy so it’s important to know about wheat and other crops.”
After demonstrating how to grind wheat kernels using a hand grinder, she passes around the grinder and kernels to show guests what they look like.
“Whole wheat is so much better for you than normal flour,” she said. “I’m not a health nut, but research shows it’s better and I think it’s better tasting.
“I offer my classes a taste of the whole wheat bread I make and ask them what they think. Most say they had never tried whole wheat, and never knew it tasted so great. I’m just trying to get the next generation thinking about the idea.
“My goal is to inform people about the stuff growing around us because you’d be surprised at the people who don’t know, and only then will they realize how important wheat and farming is to our lives.”
The talk will begin at 9:45 a.m. Nov. 15 at the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center. Admission is $4.
For more information call, (620) 947-5964 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.