Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Local or Organic? June 18, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Fight Back Fridays,Politics — realfoodmama @ 2:51 pm
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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.


5 Responses to “Local or Organic?”

  1. FoodRenegade Says:

    I think we all pick our lines. I favor local if I know the farmer, if they testify that they’re growing chemical-free or beyond organic. Organic certification is expensive, and can be a paperwork nightmare for a small farm. So, I understand if they can’t/won’t grow certified organic food, and I don’t mind.

    Thanks for participating in today’s Fight Back Fridays carnival.

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

    • realfoodmama Says:

      Thank you for bringing up that good point! I have discussed this with several of the vendors at my local farmer’s market and agree that it is frequently the case that locally grown products are often in line with (and frequently exceed) the federal requirements for organic, they just haven’t the cash (or really the need) to go through the process of becoming certified.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Peggy Says:

    I have lost my ‘hard and fast’ rules, and tend to approach each item individually. Sure, if I have a choice, local AND organic is always at the top of my list. If my choices are a red bell pepper organically grown in Holland or a conventional pepper, I’d probably choose to make a different dish. If it was really important to me to have that red bell pepper, I’d probably choose the organic if I were feeding the growing children, immune compromised individuals or an elderly person with it, and the conventional for serving to healthy adults.

    I guess I work my way through food choices that way rather than having a set of rules. It takes longer and it’s definitely harder than rules, but it’s freeing somehow to consider each item individually.

  3. […] few pounds of the local organic wheat flour sold here at my Co-Op. As some of you may have read in this post, there is a local wheat grower’s Co-Op in New Mexico which provides local, organic and […]

  4. Pam Says:

    Where can I buy this in Albuquerque and how is it labeled?

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