A Pantry Examination

7 Jan

I am keenly aware of the fact that many of the spices and seasonings I have in my cupboard are not organic and definitely not local. I’ve started buying and drying my own herbs from local sources, and buying herbs, spices and staples when available. So I’ve decided to do a bit of research: look at what is in my pantry, see where it was made and see if I can find some local options.


Kokuho Rose Sushi Rice: I happen to know that a LOT of rice is grown in California. Before even looking at the package I assumed this rice was grown in the state. It turns out that it is grown about 150 miles away at Koda Farms. Checking out their website I found this: Koda Farms pursues a positive environmental role by following sound farming practices that add vital wetlands to the arid San Joaquin Valley. Our rice fields vigorously support the local ecosystem by providing living, feeding, and breeding habitat for an amazing array of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.We make our fields available for California State University research projects, bird population studies, and local mosquito control projects. A really nice surprise! I like them already!

California While Grain Brown Rice: This rice was purchased at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market. I knew this was both local and organic. The Massa Organics farm is located near Chico, CA, about 175 miles away. Not quite living the 100 mile life, but not doing too bad either.


Croccantini Crackers: These crackers are made around Seattle, WA. The La Panzanella website says that all of their products are “Made with all natural ingredients and certified Kof-K kosher and parve, La Panzanella’s artisan crackers are carefully mixed and formed by our dedicated bakers. ” So, not exactly local. but not too bad either.

Flours, Meals & Grains

Albers Corn Meal: I don’t really like the fact that I have this in my cupboard. But every now and then, an ingredient is needed quickly. This is one of the many products distributed by Nestle. I’ll use it up and quickly move on to the Bob’s Red Mill corn meal I bought to replace it.

Corn Meal, Buckwheat Flour, Masa Harina, Baking Soda, Tapioca, Semolina: Bob’s Red Mill is located in Oregon about 650 miles north of San Francisco. It’s in another state, sure. However many of the California foods travel up from Los Angeles and the areas around the border of Mexico, both of which are 600+ miles away. BRM is one of the only companies providing such a variety of natural and organics flours, grains and seeds. I’ve contacted them before, and received very friendly ad helpful information. I like this company. A lot.

Almond Meal: Trader Joe’s offers a variety of interesting and organic products. They don’t provide any information on their website about the source of their individual products. I’m sure they have hundreds, though.

Quinoa: this product is also sold by Trader Joe’s, is certified organic, kosher, and from Bolivia.

Kingsford’s Corn Starch: Another spontaneous purchase. This very well could be a GM food. Kingsford’s is owned by ACH Food Companies, which in turn is owned by Associated British Foods.


Organic Whole Wheat, Egg & Garlic Parsley Noodles: These three were given to me as a Christmas gift. They are made by Mrs. Miller’s, a family owned and run business in the Amish country of Ohio. They make many products including Hot Pepper Mustard and Amish Peanut butter. A bulk-order might be in our near future.

There’s quite a bit more in my pantry that what is listed above. But this exercise made me a bit depressed to be honest. Once I started doing the research and found that some of the items I have are a bit of a mystery, I became more resolved to find alternatives. But where to put the focus? Local? Organic? Small farms and businesses? I’m thinking a combination of all three. I’d rather support a small, family owned organic farm in Ohio than a large, Californian company that doesn’t provide any information on it’s practices.

It’s also made me look at every label in the supermarket. I need just one onion, and the farmers’ market is 3 days away. Do I buy one the yellow one that has a sticker from a farm in Arizona? Or the red onion from South America? And if I really “need” something, how badly? Do I need an ingredient badly enough to purchase from a source I’m not comfortable with? Shopping is certainly becoming more.. challenging.


One Response to “A Pantry Examination”

  1. Justine January 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    I try to do local organic if possible, then local, then organic. I think it’s important to try to avoid things that have been transported for long distances, if possible (which it isn’t always).

    There are so many gotchas. As you say, California is a rice-growing state. Yet it does not have the climate of, say, Vietnam or Indonesia. I’m not sure how much California rice is grown with federally subsidized water or water from depleted aquifers, but some certainly is. I’m sure the rice I buy (generally white jasmine and brown basmati) isn’t as virtuous as it could be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: