Know Your Flour, Know Your Food

Why you should care who makes your flour, and how. It's no secret how much we Americans love our sugary foods, and our flour is...

Why you should care who makes your flour, and how.It's no secret how much we Americans love our sugary foods, and our flour is no exception. When we overly refine our grain into flour, we gain an extended shelf life, which we pay for with lost nutrients. That companies like Cargill and Monsanto appear less concerned with our ever-expanding waistlines than they do with their bottom lines shouldn't come as a surprise. Thanks to Big Ag and over-processing, most of our flour has been reduced to a big snowy Pixy Stix in a bag.But Stone-Buhr, a small flour milling company in Seattle is hoping to change this model. With David vs. Goliath ambitions, owner and CEO Josh Dorf's mission is simple: to sell sustainably farmed flour from small family farmers, and to deliver a superior product that will truly "perform in your recipe." It makes sense: Why spend all that money and time growing tasty organic food and raising free-range eggs only to compromise the flavor by adding low-quality flour to your recipe?Dorf points out that while Stone-Buhr flour is not organic, the wheat they use is all certified by Food Alliance-the oldest and largest third-party certifier for sustainable agriculture. All the farmers in the program use a less disruptive "direct seed" technique that doesn't require the topsoil to be tilled. By farming in this manner they "pass over the field much less than conventional or organic farmers-using less fuel inputs than either," says Dorf.Ironically, 10 years ago Monsanto actually flew some of these farmers to a test-farm in the Midwest to show them "no-till" agriculture. The farmers, galvanized by their experience, "banded together to develop an alternative method of growing wheat (and other crops), which worked at stopping soil loss." Their dedication to their technique makes sense. "These are multi-generational family farmers who have one asset: about 18 inches of top-soil," says Dorf. "They also saw real environmental benefits-in soil improvements, water usage, wildlife, and [used] less fuel to run their tractors." By joining forces with this progressive group of family farmers, Stone-Buhr's dream became realizable.For Dorf and his farming cohorts, sustainability is about real stewardship of the land; it's about "responsibly producing a crop without depleting the vitality of the soil or surrounding areas." Their model recognizes the sustainability of human labor as well, stressing fair worker pay.As a champion of accountability in our food system, Stone-Buhr developed a tool called FindtheFarmer that allows you to track your flour back to the sustainable wheat farmer who grew it. At a time when consumers are increasingly interested in the provenance of their food, why forget about such an important food staple as our flour?Stone-Buhr's traceable flour is packed with all of the fiber, nutrients, and flavors you probably won't find in your pantry. Now, the next time you bake some delicious cookies, you shouldn't have any problem finding your farmer and sending him a deliciously homemade token of your appreciation.Photo (CC) by Flickr user earlyCJ5
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet