and why you should be using it if you can
https://wildhivefarm.com/ is a go-to in central NY and sells in NYC, Westchester, and western CT. I use them when I can, for the ethical reasons you mention, but agree that the razor edge between ethics and elitism is tricky to straddle. Hopefully increased demand from those who can buy local will steadily drop prices to where more people can partake.
I'm fairly new to baking, but I'm in Western North Carolina, and we're lucky to have two great local spots (I think--I don't know a ton about either but have used flours from both, and they seem like good people making great stuff!): www.farmandsparrow.com/ and carolinaground.com
I'm all on board with ethical flours, but 80% of the time, I just end up using King Arthur. The cost makes it difficult for me to make anything "fancy" (and honestly, I think you're justified in 'fancy' there, Andrew) my mainstay flours, so I end up using it for the 5% rye, or the pastry flour I use rarely, which is a lot easier on my wallet (and assuages my conscience a little bit). And as a new baker, figuring out how to account for differences in hydration, gluten development, whatever, is too long of a learning curve to make a bunch of not-great bread with flour I just can't afford.
Using mass-produced commercial flour is like a lot of other convenience foods: they're hard to quit because they're cheap, and they work. This and Alicia's recent newsletter has inspired me to try and get the good store more often, since honestly, I can usually afford it in smaller quantities, but also, there's no shame in using what's affordable and what works if it's what's within your skills & means.
While I agree with the sentiment, I think we have to consider practicality as well. Particularly under Covid circumstances, but not just that, not everything is readily available and easily accessible. I think encouraging buying organic and buying local (which are not necessarily one and the same) is good. I think making people feel guilty for choices that are not these is not good. It’s best to assume that people try to do their best, and with more education on food matters might make different choices. I’m happy to hear recommendations for things. That would be great. Judging someone’s ultimate choice is not great.
Sparrowbush Farm in Livingston, NY has wonderful flour that got me through quarantine. Now I’m up in Burlington, VT, and despite being much closer to the Mecca that is New American Stone Mills, I’m finding it much harder to find a diverse range of ethical flours. Nitty Gritty Grain Company sells great whole wheat flour which I can get at City Market, but I’ve been disappointed by the milling quality of the rye I can get, and I haven’t found any high extraction bread flour. If anyone in Chittenden County has flour tips let me know!
Ground Up is local to me, and not only do I like/appreciate that it's ethical, I'm convinced their flours made for better bread.
Here in Western PA (I'm in Pittsburgh), Weatherbury Farm flour is pretty widely available in local markets / CSAs.
Meadowlark Organics https://www.meadowlarkorganics.com/contact. I try to use ethical flours, but Meadowlark is not available in any of my local stores or co-ops, so I have to mail order if I want it. I will purchase some of the specialty flours sometimes my co-op, but even though I can afford it, I admit to sometimes caving to the lower prices.
I’m in New York City and I love Farmer Ground flours (http://www.farmergroundflour.com/) - they’re partners with GrowNYC which runs the farmers markets all over the city, and they often have booths at the markets that I frequent. I’ve also found them at local grocers, and even occasionally at Whole Foods.
Could we include an evaluation of packaging in what makes something ethical? KAF has introduced a lot of plastic packaging recently and so I am avoiding those items where I can.
Meadowlark Organics in Ridegway, WI, (southwest of Madison) has an amazing array of flours, grains, and beans. All grown and milled at their farm. They also offer Grain Shares, like a CSA, but for flours, etc. https://www.meadowlarkorganics.com/our-farm-1 They will ship anywhere in the US. More expensive than the grocery store? Yeah. Worth it if you can afford it? Hells Yeah!
Valencia Mills in New Mexico - they use Navajo grown wheat berries.
Here in Seattle I’ve been using Stone-Buhr flour for the last few years - I haven’t dug into the ethicality/sustainability of their practices but they talk the talk on their website: http://www.stone-buhr.com/story/
Castle Valley Mill near Philadelphia. They have a variety of heritage grains and free shipping on orders that are reasonably sized for most home bread bakers.
I have been a fan of Maine Grains (https://mainegrains.com) for years. I usually bake with KA, but Maine Grains flours are my special treats. I am absolutely smitten with their approach to recreating a Maine grain economy, not just "finding local flour" which is where home bakers like I am come in. Maine used to be a breadbasket, and these folks rebuilt a grain economy one person and one farm at a time. Plus, their jailhouse-turned-mill is also a local business incubator. They are just fantastic.
Looking forward to this resource, and more info about how to adjust hydration levels for different flours (this is something I've struggled with).
For the sake of freshness and local flavor/love, I’m currently using Cairnspring Mills, and experimenting with Fairhaven Mill next.