“Why are your breads not labeled as USDA Organic if the Spelt you use is USDA Organic?”
I am so glad you asked! And the short answer is: yes, our Spelt is USDA Organic but using the label is wildly expensive! But If you have some time, I would like to tell you a story that gives you the whole picture!
Before we switched to USDA Organic Spelt, we had been importing Spelt from a world renowned grain grower in Germany. Even though it wasn’t technically “organic” it was very high quality and we had no hesitations whatsoever on their farming methods. In fact, my Mom and our General Manager and Operations Manager actually visited our grain grower and got a first rate education!
Now, we used this Spelt for many many years and to this day, we have nothing but the highest regard for them, their family and their mission!
However, there were a few things that spurred on our transition. The first being, hearing from our customers (or even prospective customers) who wanted the Organic reassurance. And even though we had documentation that there was no glyphosate in the German Spelt, there was just a wariness that was really hard to overcome.
The second thing that pushed us to transitioning is that we had some feedback from customers about our carbon footprint and how importing it from across the world wasn’t great for the environment even if it was a super high quality Spelt.
Thirdly, importing was a nightmare even before the Pandemic. The grain was stored well but it still crossed the ocean via a big ship. We had to facilitate all the many facets of shipping and hope the grain wouldn’t get stuck at a port. There was just a lot of paperwork and we’d frequently hold our breath until we heard our latest shipment made it through customs!
Fourth - the climate in Germany took some very hard hits. It felt like out of nowhere, they were hit with some serious droughts that actually contributed to some intense fires. It made growing nearly any crops - let alone Spelt - a much larger labor than it had been originally.
All of this led us to our big Organic Transition!
So yes, the Spelt grain we now use is grown in North America and is grown significantly closer to us in Berlin, Ohio!
The Spelt we are baking with to this day is USDA Organic and we are so proud of that!
Could we label the breads with that green and white USDA Organic label - I have no doubt that we could!
However, when we looked into all it would cost us to use that label, we were super dissuaded. When we did the math of what it would cost (quarterly fees PLUS a pretty hefty percentage of sales) we figured out what kind of price increase we’d have to do to survive and we just couldn’t do that to you guys.
So we settled on a compromise. We were still able to label the flour on each ingredient list as “Organic Spelt Flour” and we could do our best to keep in communication with you all that YES our Spelt is USDA Organic! Yay!
I wouldn’t normally share quite this big of an insight into our workings but I wanted to share so that you give other small, family owned businesses a shot to explain themselves and that when you come across products in the grocery store with TONS of certifications - you think about how much it cost to use those labels. Because one way or another - you are paying for it!
Not to say that looking out for labels like that is bad. It certainly isn’t! There’s just more going on than “without this label this product is sketchy.”
So always do your due diligence! Ask your questions and get your answers! Hold brands and labels accountable.
I fully stand behind each and every one of our products and I am not afraid of any question out there. I don’t know how many people can say the same.
As always, thank you for taking this journey with me and my family!
Until next time,
The 3rd Generation of Berlin Natural Bakery
the little bakery that could! 🙂