In honor of the new year, I’m offering up an easy resolution for greener living: Bake more. Thanks to Shepherd’s Grain, a small collective of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho wheat farmers, baking cookies has become the moral equivalent of buying carbon offsets. Like filling your tank with biodiesel, only tastier.

Hear me out.

Cookies are made with flour. Flour comes from wheat. And traditional wheat comes from farms where the soil is exposed and tilled each year. This requires large quantities of fuel and releases carbon out of the soil and back into the atmosphere, effectively battering the land and the air we breathe.

But according to Josh Dorf, president of Stone-Buhr Flour, a San Francisco–based company that buys grain from the Shepherd’s Grain collective, all wheat is not bad for the planet. In fact collective farmers have developed a direct-seed, no-till agriculture method that’s radically different from conventional farming, and almost
carbon neutral.

And get this: According to a study Stone-Buhr is conducting with researchers in Pullman, Washington, all-purpose flour (grown by Shepherd’s Grain farmers in our very backyard) actually sequesters 0.96 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That means that a million pounds of fresh, local flour offsets 960,000 miles worth of emissions from cars running at an average of 20 miles per gallon.

I drive about 10,000 miles per year, so if I can consume a little more than 10,000 pounds of local flour every year, I can offset my driving footprint entirely. Okay, so that probably won’t happen. But it’s still true that the more batter I mix, the smaller my footprint becomes. And as luck would have it, I really like to bake. Now, eco-conscious flour can cost a little bit more: Since wheat is a traded commodity, large-scale farmers don’t get to pick their prices, whereas Stone-Buhr does. “The product is reality based instead of commodity market based,” says Dorf. At QFC, for instance, a five-pound bag of the company’s all-purpose flour will run you $4.69—$1.20 more than General Mills’ Gold Medal, the country’s best seller. “Competing against the big brands is a huge challenge,” Dorf admits. But that’s the price we pay for trying to do the right thing.”

Find Stone-Buhr flour at QFC, Safeway, Albertson’s, and Fred Meyer. To learn which farm your flour comes from, visit www.findthefarmer.com and enter the code on the top of the bag.

Filed under