What is Eco Friendly Flour?
More and more people these days are turning to wheat flour alternatives, and there are many reasons to do so. Many people seek out alternative and eco friendly flours out of a desire to be healthier while lowering their carbon footprint. The good news is, this increased consumer demand has made it so much easier to find alternative flour products in grocery stores these days, even compared to just a few short years ago. Consumers are no longer relegated to giving up the products that they love or searching high and low for alternatives. The not-so-good news is that the production of many wheat alternative flours can be pretty rough on the environment (we’re looking at you in particular, almond flour!)
So what’s a consumer to do, when you care about both the environment and your health? Fear not, because it is possible to find a wheat flour alternative that doesn’t contribute to environmental destruction. Though they aren’t as widely publicized as many or the popular nut-based alternative flours (thankfully, this is changing), there are eco friendly flour options out there for the environmentally conscious consumer.
What Does it Mean to Be an Eco Friendly Consumer?
According to the blog All About Eco Friendly: “Living eco-friendly means making choices every day to choose products and services that have a reduced impact on the environment.” This can include purchasing products that are produced sustainably, that use recycled materials and/or packaging, that have a low carbon footprint, or that are upcycled. Upcycling is the process of taking a product that has already been produced and improving it in some way. You can read more about upcycling in our blog post, here.
Eco friendly consumers recognize that there is more to our purchases than how convenient they are and how well they serve us - they also recognize that we have a duty to make environmentally and socially responsible purchases to help combat some of the negative impacts of our consumption.
Why Should You Look for Eco Friendly Flour?
Flour might not be at the top of your list when you think of consumer choices that can lessen your impact on the environment, but you’d be surprised at the environmental impact of many alternative flours.
When it comes to flour, being eco friendly means that the flour you purchase focuses on reducing food waste and uses environmentally friendly production practices. Many people are not aware of the environmental impact of many popular alternative flours. Take almond flour for instance. Not only are there serious supply and demand issues, brought about by the recent increase in the demand for non-dairy almond milk and gluten-friendly almond flour, but the environmental impact of almond flour production has the potential to be pretty devastating. California produces 100% of the almonds harvested in the U.S., and over 82% of the almonds produced globally. If you’ve been following them news at all the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the devastating wildfires and constant drought that California has experienced. Couple those events with the fact that it takes almost 2,000 gallons of water to produce ONE POUND of almond flour, and you can see where we’re going with this.
Similarly, the rise in popularity of coconut products including coconut milk and coconut flour as caused farmers to resort to growing coconuts on the same land over and over again, a process known as monoculture. As the land becomes depleted of nutrients due to the same crop (with the same nutritional needs) being grown on it year after year, farmers turn to the use of chemical pesticides to fight the insects that inevitably try to take over. Not only are these pesticides harmful for the soil and the nearby water supply (not to mention the pests, some of which may play an important beneficial role in the region’s ecosystem, despite the havoc they wreak on crops), but consuming a product that has been grown with the use of chemical pesticides is never ideal, and is something that we personally recommend avoiding whenever possible.
Rice flour is another popular flour alternative. Rice farming is thought to account for approximately 2.5% of global warming caused by humans due to the off gassing of methane and nitrous oxide from flooded rice fields. In an effort to reduce methane gas production, it became a common practice to intermittently flood and dry rice fields, but this practice has recently been shown to actually cause increased nitrous oxide production, compared to leaving the fields constantly flooded.
Once you learn about the environmental impacts of these wheat flour alternatives, it’s hard not to want to make the switch to a more eco friendly flour.
Spent Grain Flour is Better for You AND the Environment
If you’re looking for an eco friendly, versatile, and healthy alternative flour, spent grain flour should be at the top of your list. First of all, spent grain flour is made from the byproducts of barley used in the beer-making process, meaning that the food waste that would normally be produced during this procedure is instead used to make an eco friendly flour. By upcycling this spent grain and eliminating the waste of the brewing byproducts, spent grain flour is eco friendly on several levels.
Not to mention, at Grain4Grain, we’ve developed a new process to develop the spent grain into flour, taking a method that used to take several hours and reducing it to under 30 minutes. Reducing the carbon footprint of the production process is yet another way that our low carb, high protein Barely Barley spent grain flour earns its eco friendly chops.
Whether you’re a consumer of alternative flours for dietary or medical reasons, it is important to learn about eco friendly flour alternatives, and the myriad of reasons you may want to lessen your consumption of many of the most popular alternative flours in favor of eco friendly flour made from upcycled products like spent grain.