There is an interesting story about oats, told in passing, in Bill McKibbon’s Deep Economy. The story is nested inside of other stories. The over arching story of Deep Economy is like a tipi; the story hangs on three poles he wants to show how we can all be happier, how we can save the world’s ecology, and why richer more local economic relationships are the key. I’ve no arguement with any of that.
Inside that story he tells about a fun experiment he tried, living for a year entirely on the food produced by his local environment. I found myself thinking this is kind of the modern version of Euell Gibbon’s delightful book Stalking the Wild Asparagus; a book about things you can gather in the wild to eat. I gather that McKibbon’s daughters often said yukk during the winter of his enthusiasm. McKibbon’s version is sort of community supported agriculture on steroids. Ok, that’s unfortunate mixing of metaphors.
So about these oats. I forget why, but he wanted to buy rolled oats. Probably for his morning breakfast. But it turns out that oats undergo a surprising amount of processing in the gap between the field and the table. They must be steamed, rolled, and then roasted to make those flakes that breakfast oatmeal, and most any other oatmeal dish includes.
The oat rolling industry is a classic example of a once diffuse industry that has now condensed into a highly centralized one. He says that these days most of the planet’s oats are rolled in a single factory someplace in Canada. It’s an oat rolling hub; a two sided network hub. Huge numbers of farmers on one side, uncountable bowls of oatmeal porridge on the other. Your invited to think about Goldilocks at this point. Maybe the oat rolling market’s too cold. What if the terrorists attack that plant?
I could spend $120 to buy an attachment for my mixer that will roll oats, because you know that any attempt to get closer to nature should be preceded by the purchase of capital equipment; preferably one per household.
But wait! That thing is make by Messerschmidt! You know, that Messerschmidt.
But you know they used to make a much better roller, the Kabinroller!