Since the season of cherry pie and strawberry shortcake is upon us, Local Pickins readers may be wondering: where do our neighborhood bakeries procure their flour? How do they choose their flour and, most importantly, is it local? We decided to do a little investigating at several renowned Boston area bakeries – Petsi Pies Bakery and Café, Flour Bakery and Café, and Bricco Panetteria. We were extremely excited to learn that all three buy flour either from Vermont-based King Arthur Flour Company, or from suppliers that work with King Arthur, such as Siegel Egg or JAR Baker’s Supply.
King Arthur Flour Company was founded in 1790 as an importer of European flour to Long Wharf in Boston and it is the oldest flour company in America! Now headquartered in Norwich, VT, King Arthur has been selling flour grown exclusively in the United States since 1896. Since 1996, this extraordinary flour purveyor has been 100% employee-owned, and, since 2007, a socially responsible “B Corporation”. What does this designation mean? In simple terms, this means that King Arthur consistently aims to reduce energy consumption and solid waste production at its facility in Vermont. The company also promotes volunteering among its employees by offering compensation for up to 40 hours of volunteering a year, and strongly encourages biking to work, recycling, and composting. Classification as a “B Corporation” also indicates that King Arthur only purchases flour grown in the United States without harmful additives.
While their website was informative, I wanted more details about the inner-workings of King Arthur, so I decided to speak directly to a representative. King Arthur’s Media Coordinator Alison Furbish was quick to emphasize that King Arthur does not fit the most standard definition of “local,” as most of their flour is grown and milled in the Midwest. However, since farms milling grain in large quantities are essentially unheard of in the East Coast, King Arthur is about as “local” as New England can get. King Arthur clearly cares about its employees, customers, and the environment, all excellent reasons to be excited about bakeries that source their flour from King Arthur and other “B Corporation”-type companies.
For do-it-yourself readers, all this chatter about flour might be inspiring you to bake, or at least to hunt down some baked goods. For the would-be bakers, make use of all the great flour-options out there, like self-rising flour (a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt, gluten-free flour) and cake flour, which offers a lighter crumb and fluffier texture due to low protein content. If you’re interested in visiting a cute, neighborhood bakery, cooling off with an iced latte, and enjoying a fresh baked good, check out our “baked goods” listings!