The delicious artisan breads we bake at Pacific Sourdough owe a lot to the provenance of the flour we use. I am always happy to explain our flour farmers to anyone who asks and a surprising number of people do! People are really starting to care how their food is grown and where it comes from. I always get questions like: is the flour organic? Is it local? Is it GMO? My answer is more than just a yes or no. I’d like to introduce you to the farmers.
For most of our breads we use Shepherd’s Grain flours. Shepherd’s Grain is grown by a small group of family farmers on the Columbia Plateau. They grow wheat using the sustainable farming practice of direct seeding. Instead of plowing, the direct seed method pokes a hole in the ground where the wheat seed is dropped. By not plowing, wind erosion and water runoff is reduced. After harvest the stubble is left in the field providing rich wildlife habitat that also enriches the soil, returning nutrients that will feed next years crop. They grow different varieties of wheat depending on how it is used and work with local bakers to ensure we get the kinds of flour we need for our special breads.
Shepherd’s Grain products are certified by The Food Alliance, a third party verifier that assures food is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The family farms are as much artisans as we bakers and they feel as passionate about their work as we do ours and together we promote healthy food grown in a sustainable environment. On every bag of flour there is a number that tells me who grew the wheat and when it was milled. If I have any questions I can call call and talk with a real person at the mill who knows the grower. I like that.
The good news for home bakers is that these same families grow the wheat sold in supermarkets under the Stone-Buhr label and you can buy it too, and it comes in smaller bags then the 50# ones we use! I encourage you to learn more at the Stone-Buhr website and meet the farmers. The next loaf you buy or bake will help change the world!
And, just for the record, as of 2016 there is no GMO wheat commercially available on the US market.