Old-fashioned and organic, Westwind Milling Co. in Linden goes against the grain of commercial productions
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Lee, who runs the mill with the expertise of a journeyman mechanical engineer, grew up on the farm where they now live, and gained his knowledge behind the wheel of a tractor and through doing sales and service for grain elevators.
“I want the mill to have a little howl to it, like driving a tractor; you can plow a field and know what’s going on in the transmission,” he says. The mill “howls” without the benefit of modern convenience. “We’ve never bought a new piece of equipment,” Lee says. “The last major retrofit was in 1937.”
This handyman, who also bakes spelt-flour cinnamon rolls, speaks with pleasure and authority about lubrication schedules, the “tissue-thin” space between grinding wheels, and the “flailing” that soy, almonds, and various legumes do in a hammer mill. A hammer mill will also be used in Westwind’s new gluten-free mill, which he plans to complete this summer.
Lee’s vocabulary digresses into talk of short runs, long runs, furrows, and bolts. His detailed devotion to the process is also apparent in his milling log, a paper-and-clipboard affair with meticulous pencil-written notations. “I’m a bit of a Luddite,” he says with obvious pride.
That pride gave him the courage to offer samples of their bread to French agri-tourists who came through the mill not long ago. They judged it as good as the best breads in France, Linda says.
The Purdys emphasize the importance of what’s not in their products. “There’s no BHA, BHT, red food coloring — none of that junk,” Linda says. Nothing is bromated or preserved.“Have you seen Food Inc., about the myth of our food system?” Linda says. “I truly believe you are what you eat. Food is what we are. If what you eat is industrial … well.”
TO BUY WESTWIND:
By the Pound,
Ann Arbor; 734-665-8884
American Market Village,
Dearborn Heights; 313-730-0801
Ann Arbor; harvest-kitchen.com
Nature’s Finest Organics,
Waterford Township; naturesfinestsorganics.com
The Westwind Milling Co.,
Ypsilanti Food Co-op;
Ann Arbor; zingermansbakehouse.com