Lucky Pierre bakers

 
 

Illinois has a wide variety of farms. While known for corn and soybeans, there are also many small Illinois farms that produce fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs, and animal products of all kinds. A majority of the farmers Lucky Pierre Bakers source from are dedicated to stewardship and committed to quality and sustainability.

We want to know the story behind our ingredients. Local farmers aren't anonymous. We want to meet the growers and understand their ethics. There's a unique kind of assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye.  

We work hard to find ingredients that are local, sustainable, and/or Fair Trade. We are proud of the fact that we’re not complacent. The job is never finished. We’re always learning about and exploring new and better options for local ingredients that have better production standards and hopefully competitive pricing.

The guidelines for purchasing ingredients at Lucky Pierre are a complex puzzle to piece together, and there are no absolute rules. While we like to purchase both locally-produced and organically-grown food, we find ourselves often striving to find a balance between where something is produced and how it’s produced. Over time, we've come to weigh both of those designations separately. Sometimes a local product is of a high-quality and produced in a sustainable manner, economically and environmentally. Other times a local product is produced in a way that does not align with our values, while another product from further away is aligned with our ethos. In such an instance we would choose to do business with the further away farmer whose practices are more in line with our values.

Certified organic is a great bar and a nice clear distinction, however, it’s not always the answer. It's generally more expensive, and quite often, it’s not local. We take into consideration monoculture organic and while we think it’s not as bad as non-organic monoculture production, it’s still corporate agriculture and can be just as destructive to the land. At Lucky Pierre Bakers, we strive to purchase from farmers who own their land, work their land, live off of their land, and respect and sustainably maintain their land.

In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting easily, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. The smaller, local farmers we buy from, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long and successive harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors.  Livestock diversity is also higher on many small farms. This diversity of plants and animals contributes to the sustainability of the land.

Buying local food also keeps us in touch with the seasons. Farmstead products like cheeses are handcrafted for best flavor and vary with the seasons as the diet of the animals changes. Using local produce makes us adapt or change our products to reflect what is being harvested that week or month. Even local flours can vary between batches. But all these changing variables are worth it because we’re using sustainable, local products at the peak of their freshness.

Currently, we work directly with several farmers to source ingredients locally, including milk, eggs, butter, cheese, fruits, vegetables, oats, flour, and other grains.

We try to buy our flours, oats and other grains from regional farmers using organic and sustainable practices. Also, we avoid GMOs as best we can.

Our eggs need to be from free-range, cage-free hens. We also find that the best eggs come from chickens that are pasture-raised on a partial grass diet.

For fruits and vegetables, there’s such an abundance of high-quality producers in the region, it can be hard to decide whom to use. We prioritize buying directly from local farmers and sourcing from organic, sustainable, and GMO-free growers.

We source our milk from dairies with pasture-raised Jersey cows that are humanely treated and raised without the use of GMO feeds.

Other items that we cannot source locally, such as sugar, some spices, and chocolate, we prioritize sustainable sources, and especially Fair Trade practices.

Sourcing local, sustainable ingredients means that not only do we look to purchase products that are grown or raised in a manner that leaves the land in as good of shape as, or better than before, but we purchase local so that we contribute to our local economy and community.

Buying from small farms within our community keeps our tax dollars within the local economy. Likewise, many of our small local farms tend to buy locally as well, pumping more of their profits back into the community. Supporting local farms helps our fellow community members who work at them, providing employment and creating ample opportunities for these workers to shop at other local small businesses.

We believe supporting local farmers today will help to ensure that there will be farms in our community tomorrow.