Wildfire Loaf is a multi-year research project to taste-test and genetically sequence sourdough starters made from smoke-tainted wheat.
Wildfire Loaf asks, “How do wildfires affect the smell, taste and texture of bread?” Climate change is increasing the number and severity of wildfires and this has direct implications for the ways that food products are farmed, assessed, processed and eaten. As we make connections across scales—from the microbial to the planetary—we are asking: what is the future of this iconic and commodified ingredient?
In 2022, Wildfire Loaf was exhibited in Gene Cultures at the new MIT Museum in Cambridge, US. The piece includes a 3-part video installation and Wildfire Loaf recipe, as well as collected samples of smoke-tainted wheat from a field in Oregon, simulated smoked-tainted flour, and the resulting sourdough starter.
Wildfire Loaf was also the topic of our third Planetary Indigestion performative lecture as artists in virtual residence at University of California Santa Cruz (2021-2022 with the Genomics Institute & Open Lab). The Center hosted a Wildfire Loaf discussion, bread-making and tasting event and were joined by the UCSC community along with David Kaisel of Capay Mills, Rob Dunn of North Carolina State University Sourdough Lab, and Natalie Zajac, citizen baker and MFA candidate in UCSC’s Environmental Art and Social Practice. Watch the whole conversation along with input from our three guests here.