The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wheat Montana four is superior to just Organic Flour

Johnbbq's picture

Wheat Montana four is superior to just Organic Flour

Some serious mis-information has been posted about the products of Wheat Montana and their products.


To have a "Certified Organic" label a product must meet certain minimum standards.   The producers must be inspected and use only natural fertilizers and no chemicals to have this label.  Period!  

The law does not recognize those producers that go beyond that standard, that produce superior products.  This is why What Montana does not advertise that they are certified organic.   Their flour is certified to be chemical free of well over a 100 known chemicals after it is milled in the latest high tech flour mill.  They do not use chemical fertilizers.  In addition they use NO animal manure.  They will not risk the spread of any bacteria into their products at all.   (Remember some of the recent problems with organic products that had salmonella from manure?)   The grain produced by Wheat Montana goes directly to their own flour mill and directly to the consumer.   Few other flour producers can deliver any product this pure!!!

In addition Wheat Montana uses no Genetically Modified grain whatsoever.   Most flour millers try to achieve this but they have no way of really knowing the origin of their grain to grow the wheat.

This information is posted on their web site and on their menus and in their stores.   I quess if you cannot read and walk up and ask if they are organic, you will get a quick answer that they are not.   They are so much more than the minimum standards--Wheat Montana, in my opinion, if the Gold Standard of pure food.

I am a retired guy who loves to cook.  I do not work for What Montana.   I have been in a few hundred food production plants in my life.  The Organic label is a good guide for those that want food that is chemical free.   It is only a minimum guide and there are many marginal products on the shelves today that  survive only for their organic label, not for the quality of the product they sell.  

The food buyer should always be aware of the whole picture.   Many people pay extra for poor quality food that gets turned out under the shield of being organic.   Nothing in the Organic law says anything about the food quality or taste.   Always use common sense.

America is the land of plenty when it comes to food choices.   And there will always be leaders in food production and their will always be some that cut corners.   Witness the recent mess in peanut butter.

Wheat Montana grows, mills, bakes, sells their own product.  It is a marvelously successful family operation.   They only sell a few products.  The Prairie Gold whole wheat (whole grain) flour is a marvelous high protein, high fiber flour.   In a modern hammer mill, the flour is ground differently than most conventional mills.  Most people rave over the taste of this bread and are shocked to learn that it is whole grain.  I use it exclusively in all breads from Banana bread to Rye (I do add some rye flour) bread.   I challenge anyone to show me a better tasting product or healthy product.


LeadDog's picture

I'm mostly in agreement with what you have said.  I just wanted to point out that when I was in the organic industry that to be certified organic meant you were inspected by an independent third party.  Anyone that makes claims that their food is grown and made without chemicals might not be telling you the truth.  When you are inspected by an independent third party it makes your claim stronger.  I do use whole wheat and rye from Wheat Montana to make my flour for breads just so you know how I feel about their products.

Johnbbq's picture

Wheat Montana does use a third party Independent testing lab to verify all their product is chemical free.

LeadDog's picture

I used to do organic inspections and back then testing for chemical residues was meaningless.  I'm not sure that they haven't gotten any better today.  If I was to get back into selling food I would do what Wheat Montana is doing.  I would tell my customers my cultural practices.  There are pitfalls in going that direction but for me it would be preferred over being Certified Organic..

twgiffin's picture

I get the impression from reading their website that they are not particularly worried about being certified as an Organic producer. They are successfull at what they are doing which in their opinion is better than being certified as an Organic wheat supplier.

The word "Organic" on any food product means absolutely nothing to me!

subfuscpersona's picture

...for your excellent post.

I have purchased whole grain from Wheat Montana for home milling. It makes excellent bread.

Prior to purchase, I researched both the vendor and the specific certifications that they claim. It is unfortunate that the end-user of a product must spend time understanding exactly what is being offered, but in this age of agri-business it is important to be able to cut through the hype to the underlying facts.

Quite a few TFL members who home mill recommend Wheat Montana.

flourgirl51's picture

Being a certified organic farmer means MUCH more than  just not using chemicals. It means a different way of farming  altogether than conventional farming. Certified organic farming means you have to leave buffer strips to make sure that adjoining fields can't contaminate your fields with chemical sprays and GMO crops. This is done by tilling under a large section of your fields that are near neighboring fields. We can't use chemicals in organic farming so we have to remove weeds with the tractor and methods called multiweeding and harrowing. These methods also remove a portion of the crops which you lose so you have to seed heavier to compensate for this  which makes it more expensive than conventional farming is and also means hours and hours spent in the tractor. Water quality is also checked and soil samples are required much of the time. This all costs money.

We have to rotate the crops each year which helps to keep the soils from being depleted of nutrients , which means you can' t grow the same crop on the same field two years in a row. You have to let some fields "rest" or lie fallow for a year which helps to remove weeds by not planting that field that year, you just keep tilling the weeds under to kill them. When a field lies fallow you don't make any money from it that year, but it helps to produce a better crop the next year.

We grow a specialty legume crop that produces nitrogen for the ground instead of using a deadly chemical such as annhydrous ammonia. Nitrogen is key to the protein content of the wheat and we are proud of our  14% high protein wheat-produced organically.

Being certified organic means that you have to pay to join a certifying agency. THEY in turn choose an inspector to send out to the farm each year to perform an all day inspection. You can't choose your own independent inspection company in certified organic farming.  Companies can't do inspections, only certifiying agencies can. The inspector checks the fields and crops, the machinery and grain bins and the mountain of paperwork and records that you have to have. You have to have certificates and affidavits for many things.  The machinery, grain bins and trucks have to be cleaned out between crops and be rodent proof and the trucks and combine are checked to make sure that they aren't leaking anything that could contaminate organic soil. The semi trucks that haul the grains to the mills have to also be cleaned out and have affidavits also. If you use any fertilizers such as molasses, you have to provide the paperwork that shows that they are approved by your certifying agency, and also provide the labels for these. If you have too many weeds in your fields the crops can be condemned and are not certifiable. Just because an inspector comes and checks your farm does NOT mean that your farm will be certified organic. All of the certifying agency's requirements have to be met in order to become certified. If they choose not to certify your crops you don't get your money back and you can't sell your crops as certified organic.

We CHOSE to be certified organic farmers because we believe that it is so much better for us, our families,  the earth and our customers who buy directly from us and ultimately for the consumers who end up with our high quality grains and flours. We work hard to grow these crops while we also try to build up the soils to replace what the crops remove each year.

I hope that this has helped to educate some people about what it really means to be Certified Organic. Going the extra mile to become a cerfied organic farm means that our customers can be assured that we have done everything possible to provide them with the highest quality wheats and flours that we can while we also are stewards of the land that is so precious to us.

Yerffej's picture

Excellent post, thank you for the organic picture.

As a point of clarification Wheat Montana is not an organic grower and they fertilize with chemicals.  If anyone feels they need verification of this information, Wheat Montana can be reached at (800) 535-2798.

If a grower were to go beyond organic standards I imagine that they would be employing biodynamic growing methods.   Wheat Montana does not use biodynamic methods.


suave's picture

I assume biodynamic refers to oxen-powered ploughs?

Johnbbq's picture

I totally agree with what is defined as Certified Organic.   But it is still a minimum standard.   There are those that chose to go beyond that standard.  

As a comparison, the personal computer today is dominated by companies that all chose to be better than IBM to the point that IBM does not make PC's anymore!

Automobiles are another example.   Remember when GM was king of the world and we all laughed at imports, especially from Japan?   Then the quality standards as we knew them changed.

Food has changed.  Organic has been a part of that change.   In the 80's the term organic was being badly abused and a lot of bad stuff was sold as organic.   Good producers demanded standards and it took time but finally the Certified Organic program was developed.   For many it has been a place to market and make a profit and care for the land.

There will always be some folks that want to make a product better, just like bread bakers are always looking for that perfect loaf.   Look at the recent evolution in the use of no knead wet doughs.   Who would have thought that could create a New Hearth in baking?   Some one challenged the standard and it will keep happening in America.   Just as Organic changed and developed a certified standard, just as Black Angus changed and became a brand standard, people will look to do better.

When we think we have all the right answers and are never challenging to get better, rot and decay will set in.   Certified Organic is a fine standard but there are those that move beyond that and having a degree in Agricultural Economics and Natural Resources and spending a lifetime enjoying fine food and learning where and how if was produced, I think you will find that Wheat Montana is one of the leading innovators from growing a crop to delivering the grain/flour to the customer.   Others will challenge them but they have raised the bar in a unique way as family farmers.

Now, let us get back to baking bread.  I, for one, love the new no knead baking ideas.    People started hallenging the old ideas and came up with new ways that are, for me, easier to do, better tasting, and I can adjust the recipe as I see fit.

I like a fine crumb in my bread with plenty of fiber and lots of seeds.   I keep a dozen different seeds that I use in breads and have been known to put all of them in a loaf.  Talk about nutrition and digestion and flavor!    Wow!





flourgirl51's picture

So, how many certified organic acres do you farm?