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Purple Straw Wheat

A Variety Revival – Purple Straw Wheat Brings Flavor Back in Vogue

Purple Straw wheat, a variety that nearly went extinct, is making a comeback thanks to plant breeder Brian Ward at Clemson University and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. Named for the color of its stem and husk, the variety’s history has been traced as far back as the early 1700’s when it was being grown in the U.S. before the American Revolution. Purple Straw’s success was due in part to its early maturity which allowed it to escape pests which crippled or destroyed other varieties grown at the time. Unfortunately, Purple Straw fell out of favor in the 1970’s with the rise of higher-yielding hybrid varieties.
Purple Straw was also known for having a distinct flavor including floral overtones, having high protein content and low gluten. These characteristics made the wheat a staple ingredient in biscuits, cakes, and whisky. The variety was especially popular in the South and was a long running standard in Southern fields and kitchens. Thanks to the efforts of researchers at Clemson and Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, this heirloom variety is being resurrected from near extinction. After an extensive search for seed, the collaboration secured a small amount and began the process of increasing the variety to make it available for growers. Quantities are still quite small, but flour from the variety can be found at Barton Springs Mill in Texas. Read more about the comeback of Purple Straw wheat here and here.

Cattle Producer Wins Lawsuit for Premium Beef

A New Mexico jury awarded a cattle producer slightly more than $2.5 million in actual damages and $8 million in punitive damages against Tyson Fresh Meats in a contract dispute for supplying “premium” beef cattle. Plaintiff, Zia Agricultural Consulting, LLC, entered into a verbal contract with Tyson to provide cattle that were grown without the use of steroids and hormones, and others that were certified according to Global Animal Partnership standards, a classification used by Whole Foods. According to Zia, the contract was based on a cost-plus pricing system in which Tyson agreed to pay the cost of procuring and feeding the cattle, plus a price premium. Zia also claimed that since Whole Foods was the primary market for the premium cattle and Tyson was the main packer for Whole Foods, it had limited options for selling the premium beef to other buyers.
The jury found that Tyson breached the contract, including the implied promise of good faith and fair dealing, and made fraudulent misrepresentations to Zia. The award of punitive damages is an interesting result since such damages are not often recoverable in a breach of contract case.

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