In the small town of Wilsonville, Alabama, Frank McEwen moves amidst a fine cloud of grits dust. For the last 10 years, he has stone-ground organic white, yellow, and blue corn. Frank’s mill sits just a few miles from 270 acres of land his family has farmed since the 19th Century. At one time, the farm was industrial—focused on 10,000 laying hens and commercial hatching eggs, which were sold to various industrial enterprises, including Purina, Marshall Durbin and Goldkist. These days, however, Frank and his teenage sons are transforming it into a small sustainable farm.

Later, Frank will drive up the road to Birmingham to hand deliver his grits and polenta to Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill, Chris Hastings’s Hot and Hot Fish Club, and some of the city’s other fine restaurants and markets. In those kitchens and stockrooms, he is simply known as “The Grit Man.”

But for now, with sunbeams sieving the hanging dust, he studies the grits as they spill into their bins.

Text by Tanner Latham ( Video by Jennifer Davick (

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