news

Week of May 9, 2016

Rob Salvino

Last week I explained that I purposefully shop for organic food in my business. I wanted to follow up on last week’s message to talk specifically about the cost of organic foods.

Organic food may cost more to grow, but two other factors play larger roles in creating the organic food price premium. One is that the demand for organic far outstrips supply thus leading to price inflation. The other is that food industry pricing practices magnify the off-the-farm organic price premium as a product passes from one business to the next. Without getting into the details of how this happens, the result is that organic flour that may sell at a $0.30 per lb. premium from the mill will end up with a premium of $0.60 or more per lb. by the time it reaches you. The distributor, the store, and other businesses upstream from the mill will have added $0.30 to the premium even though their handling costs for organic and conventional are the same.

I am ok with paying organic farmers and millers a premium—especially if I know them and their business practices. I’m not so excited about paying a distributor or a store a premium for organic.  I get around this occasionally by buying direct from the farmer or mill. It can be inconvenient to do this. Sometimes I have to run up to Burlington to pick up a few bags of flour. But that visit also allows me to talk to Kevin, the owner of the mill, and ask him to mill us up a special batch of stone ground Expresso wheat flour sifted just the way I want it. It isn’t a bad deal—I avoid paying some of the organic premium by buying direct and I get a one-of-a-kind flour to bake with.

 What's in the Box?

Methow Red flour boule (Methow Red wheat)

Methow Red wheat is an heirloom wheat. It is an open-pollinated variety of wheat that was developed decades ago. It was grown and milled by Bluebird Grain Farms.

 Rhubarb muffins (Sonora wheat)

Sonora wheat makes a nice flavorful crumb for locally grown organic rhubarb.

 Black currant almond granola

This is our popular Cereal Box Bakery granola and features real black currants. Real currants are not raisins. They have a tart flavor and they are anti-oxidant-rich. Zante currants—the kind you see in stores—are actually a variety of raisin.

 Twice-baked crisps (Sonora wheat)

This week’s crackers are made of Sonora flour and a number of add-ins like sunflowers seeds, pumpkin seeds, Montmorency dried cherries, and rosemary.