Courtesy Hayden Flour Mills

The reason behind the growing gluten sensitivity is still a medical mystery, but some research indicates that longer fermentation times, which artisan bakers like Bianco practice (his dough rises for 15 to 20 hours), reduce proteins, making them more digestible for those suffering from gluten sensitivity. Other studies have found that old forms of wheat contain less gluten naturally.

“Maybe the way to bring bread back into your diet is by home baking,” suggests Marco, pointing to another obstacle for Hayden — the radical suggestion that we trade our Wonder Bread or even our Whole Foods baguette for the time and toil required of a homemade loaf.

Unlike the luscious heirloom tomato that seems to burst with juice and lycopene promise, flour — even with Hayden’s subtle honey hue and retro labels ­— still looks like flour. You can’t taste the difference until you transform it. Other than high-end restaurants and bakers doing the local, organic thing, Hayden must convince consumers it’s worth the upgrade.

In addition to Phoenix-area farmers markets, Hayden Flour Mills sells its products online at The mill also supplies to the following area restaurants, among others:

7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale

Café Allegro at the Musical
Instrument Museum

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

Pizzeria Bianco
4743 N. 20th St. and
623 E. Adams, Phoenix

Enter Don Guerra. His Tucson-based Barrio Bread is a “community-supported bakery,” which, like community-supported agriculture, sells its products by subscription, in this case 700 to 800 loaves weekly, 150 to 200 of which are made with Hayden flour. The business model reduces uncertainty, waste and retail hours, leaving Guerra time to teach baking in the community, from the nuts and bolts of starters to the benefits of using single varietals and combining flours for different effects. “Working with local heritage grains adds a whole new level of challenge,” says Guerra, taking a break from the ovens. “Things are not so predictable. In my case, I am testing them and showcasing what’s possible.”

By next June’s harvest, Hayden expects to install a new Danish mill that produces 10 times more flour than the current model, thereby cutting costs. It will need it to reach its goal of 3 million pounds of flour annually in three years. But more merchandise only intensifies the race to build a market. This year, as part of its publicity plan, Hayden will grow its first urban White Sonora wheat on three acres at the corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road in a community garden in bustling downtown Phoenix.

Perhaps a few farm-to-table foodies there will consider the source of their flour and climb on the barricade. The wheat revolution, if it is to occur, rests, like many insurrections, with the masses. Home bakers, the folks who buy flour and bake with it, may be the key to reviving heritage grains, cup by sifted cup. Davids like Hayden have no illusions about challenging the industrial Goliaths; instead, they just want to thrive alongside them.

Chicago-based freelance writer ELAINE GLUSAC will travel for bread. She contributes regularly to The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler and