This seems to be the penultimate question for all Real foodies out there. Is it better to buy your ingredients based off of where they are grown, or how they are grown?
Local foods promote the local economy, use minimal resources for transport and packaging, and are also much fresher and generally in season. However certain items either can’t grow locally, or are only available locally via non-organic certified farms.
On the other hand, buying organic products from places like New Zealand, Mexico and even the Pacific Northwest not only uses a ridiculous amount of resources, but also doesn’t really help my local economy. But what if I really want those organic blueberries from Oregon?
Not every food decision comes down to an either/or, however.
I love my local co-op and I buy all my flour in bulk because I also love baking – mmmm, muffins…. Currently, I am faced with the choice between buying an organic unbleached flour, or a local, minimally processed flour that is not organic.
My biggest issue with buying non-organic flour is the possibility of it containing GMO’s. Organic labeling, by law, means there are no genetically modified ingredients. So why is this a concern for me? Primarily because there is so much speculation regarding the contribution of genetically modified grains to things like wheat allergies. And the last thing I want is for anyone in my family, especially my son, to develop a wheat allergy! Living without bread would be like torture, and I don’t want to inflict that on anyone, especially my little man.
Luckily, however, there is something here in New Mexico called the Northern New Mexico Organic Wheat Project. What is this, you might ask? Basically it is an SARE program started less than a decade ago by a Santa Fe baker who wanted to use locally grown wheat.
Why it is that I am not buying this flour? Currently it is only being sold to a couple of local bakeries in the Santa Fe and Taos area and is not available to the public except for in its final form (locally crafted bread). However, it is my understanding that soon (as in, before the summer is out) this is going to change. I should be able to buy this flour at my local Co-Op beginning August 1. This means not only do I have a local source for a primary ingredient in my cooking, but I can also be assured that it is non GMO, totally organic, and fresh!
The other huge advantage of this cooperative is that the farmers in Northern New Mexico who participate in this project are growing native and diverse types of wheat for use in the flour, rather than mass producing one type of crop. So not only is it organic and local, it is also ecologically sound and sustainable. What could be better?
I imagine the only thing that could improve the situation would be a little yeast, some water, a hot oven and a thick slab of butter. Happy Eating!
This post is my weekly contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays found here.