Nothing tastes more soulful and Southern than a plate of creamy grits with, perhaps, a side of cornbread! We have all watched the conversation go South, literally, when we mention grits to anyone whose time below the Mason-Dixon line has been limited.
The Delta Grind is a small Mid-South business that produces stone ground, fresh-to-order, all-natural grits, cornmeal, masa and polenta. Since February 2008. Becky and John Tatum have owned Delta Grind, located just outside of Oxford in Water Valley, Mississippi.
Grits and cornmeal are familiar to most (Southerners, that is), but you may be wondering just what masa and polenta are—Masa is a dough often used in Mexican cuisine (as for tortillas and tamales), and Becky describes polenta as “grits with an Italian accent!”
For all of her products, Becky grinds yellow corn, whereas most commercial companies use white corn. The corn comes from local farmers in north Mississippi, and Delta Grind, in turn, supplies their corn products to more than 40 Mid-South area restaurants as well as local farmers’ markets and grocery stores.
The Delta Grind is also available in restaurants and retail businesses throughout Mississippi, and Becky fills orders from all over the country from cities as far away as San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Jacksonville, Florida … pretty impressive for a business run by a staff of one! (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a current list of Memphis area businesses where you can find Delta Grind products.)
“The lady who started the business was looking to retire and I was about to be out of a job,” Becky explains. “The restaurant I worked in at the time was closing. The former owner of Delta Grind came into the restaurant where I worked; one thing led to another; and my husband encouraged me to become the next ‘grit lady’ … so it goes!”
When the Tatums took over the business, they purchased an updated Meadow stone grist mill from a longstanding company in North Carolina. They learned most of what they needed to know about the grits business from the former owner. John is ultra-supportive of his wife’s endeavor, but he has another full-time job. Becky says that John has taught her a lot about patience and perseverance along the way as she has learned a new trade and grown the business. She is on the road three days every two weeks, delivering to every single restaurant and grocery store that carries her products. She tells her vendors, “Unless you order on an off week, you will see my face!”
We asked this super woman, staff of one and mother of two young children to describe her typical week at the Delta Grind:
Monday to Tuesday: Take orders for Memphis. Purchase and grind corn for Memphis.
Wednesday: Double check orders and grind more if needed. Deliver Memphis. Grind for Mississippi Delta (Clarksdale, Cleveland, Greenwood and Indianola).
Thursday: Deliver Mississippi Delta. Take orders for Jackson, Mississippi. Purchase and grind corn for Jackson.
Friday: Deliver Jackson. Pass out!
Becky humbly reports that her company’s popularity is primarily due to the fact that “there aren’t many doing the same thing around here.” However, her work ethic and talent for running every stage of this business are, we believe, 99 percent of the reason for her success!
Thank you, Becky, for taking a few moments away from your family and Delta Grind to share your wonderful story of creativity, hard work and determination.
We will keep an eye out for your products at the following Memphis locations: Alchemy, Automatic Slims, Cafe 1912, Cafe Eclectic, Felicia Suzanne’s, Interim, Restaurant Iris, Second Line, Itta Bena, High Point Grocery, Local (both locations), Memphis Country Club, McEwen’s, Muddy’s Bake Shop, Miss Cordelia’s, Napa Café, Sweet Grass, Trolley Stop, University Club, Southward, Slider Inn, and Whole Foods.
Learn more about Delta Grind, here: deltagrind.com