THE BLOG
12/26/2011 12:54 pm ET | Updated Feb 25, 2012

Grain Trust: Experts Recommend Their Eco-Favorites

Grain is as American as apple pie. So it's only natural that farmers who want to protect this land -- and its amber waves -- are growing it sustainably. Here are some of the best starchy staples, chosen by experts in the field. 

ANA SORTUN is the chef at Oleana, a Turkish restaurant in Cambridge, Mass. The James Beard Foundation named her the Northeast's best chef in 2005, and her cookbook, Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, remains a best seller on Amazon.

"CAYUGA PURE ORGANICS grows and sells an amazing product called freekeh, which is roasted unripe spelt berries. The roasting of the grain brings a level of complexity to the slightly smoky pistachio flavor. It has an earthy color and is delicious in many salads and soups. Besides following organic standards, Cayuga employs no-till farming, crop rotation, and on-farm composting. All these efforts show in the flavor of their grains." $5.95 for 16 ounces

CYNTHIA HARRIMAN is the director of food and nutrition strategies at Boston's Whole Grains Council and Oldways, a nonprofit that promotes traditional diets. She helped create the Whole Grain Stamp, a label that identifies whole-grain products.

"I'm intrigued by GOOSE VALLEY's Rice and Bean Fusion, a blend of basmati brown rice, heirloom red rice, wild rice, and black and red beans. Blends like these, which are getting more common, rock people off their assumptions, showing them how delicious whole grains and beans can be, especially together. I like that Goose Valley has its own hydroelectric plant and natural methods of weed control and fertilization." $5 for 8 ounces

LEE RICHARDSON was recently named by Food & Wine magazine as one of the Midwest's best new chefs for his work at Ashley's in Little Rock, Ark. (Try his steel-cut oatmeal recipe.)

"My first choice for grain is WAR EAGLE MILL, a historic stone mill in War Eagle, Ark., that's been restored four times since 1832 and is still powered by a waterwheel. They're also committed to working with organic farms. My favorite is their steel-cut oats -- I've been getting rave reviews about the oatmeal I make from them." $2.05 for 16 ounces

JESSICA LUNDBERG chairs the board of directors of Northern California's Lundberg Family Farms, which produces more organic rice than any other U.S. company. She also manages the company's renewable-energy initiatives and helped it become 100 percent renewable-energy powered. 

"The organic yellow popcorn from EDEN satisfies my craving for something crunchy. Pop the kernels plain or with a drizzle of organic butter and a sprinkle of salt. Organic popcorn is important to me because of the impact of chemicals used to grow conventional corn. Eden also certifies that their products are not genetically modified." $3.05 for a 20-ounce bag