Organic flour is easily found in supermarkets, natural foods stores and online. You may be wondering what distinguishes it from regular flour and if it is worth the high price. What’s also interesting to explore is if flour needs to be organic for making bread. Well, in this article we’ll cover all of these questions in depth!
In recent history, grocery shelves have been flooded by so-called “natural” food items. These meet the growing demand of healthier eating habits among consumers. With the developments in science we now know the impact on how what we eat impacts our bodies. There are now more people than ever who are conscious about their diet.
One such product which seems ubiquitous these days is Organic Wheat Flour or Certified Organic Wheat Flours, depending on where they come from. These flours are made without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. To find out if organic flour is better than conventional flour we need to look at the differences.
Organic vs regular flour, what is the difference?
Certified organic flour is milled from pesticide-free grains. These are grown in soil that’s only fertilised by natural additives. The harvested grains are stored without any harmful fumigants or irradiation. It is more true to what grows naturally, what our ancestors ate, which arguably makes it better for you.
Is organic farming better for the environment?
Many people believe that it is. But, as with most things in life, there are both pros and cons associated with each type of farming.
Non organic wheat farmers will expect higher yields, which can mean that less fields need to be used for farming and more can be left for wildlife. This benefits local endangered species in the countryside and allows more trees to be conserved.
There is also a strong argument against non organic cultivation. Pesticides and fertilizers used in non-organic farms are so powerful that they kill many of the insects which larger animals prey on. Toxic residues (like the pesticide, DDT) in wild animals and insects increases until the animals at the top of the food chain become poisonous. This threatens entire specieses.
Organic producers use natural fertilizers and crop rotation to prevent disease and pests. But this is not as effective as non organic methods when it comes to the size and quantity of the crops grown.
Is organic flour good for you?
While eating wheat containing dangerous fertilizers and chemicals sounds scary, the wheat is properly cleaned at the mill. This makes it perfectly safe to eat. Because the grain is developed slower, there are strong arguments suggesting that the wheat will have a more developed cell structure. This enhances health and flavour benefits making us not needing to eat as much to receive the same amount of minerals.
Is organic white flour bleached?
Organic flour is never bleached or bromated. Many bakers believe that buying unbleached and unbromated flour is important. Bleach, ascorbic acid and potassium bromate are used to accelerate the ageing of flour.
Without oxidising accelerants, flour has to be naturally aged before use. Being exposed to oxygen and left to dry reduces the moisture content and matures the flour. This makes it much better to use for bread dough.
Is organic flour better for sourdough?
A sourdough starter utilises bacteria to foster its development. The flour itself is not of a higher grade, however processes used for cleaning machinery and processing the flour are less intense. This allows more bacteria and mineral content to survive, giving organic blends the advantage for sourdough production.
Is organic flour worth it?
The cost difference between regular and organic flour can be great. Currently on Amazon, Marriages strong white flour is £3.20 a kilo. Where their organic equivalent is £5.04 per kilo. That’s over a 57% increase!
Ending thoughts on organic flour
If you believe that organic flour is better for the environment, switch to organic flour. But if like me you can’t decide, just go with whichever brand you feel works best. I’ve used many types of flour and yes there are differences between all of them. But I wouldn’t say organic flour is vital to making great bread. It’s just different.