Heirloom Corn Tortillas: Why Should You Care?

A few friends went to the farmer's market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco this past Saturday and reported back that the new heirloom corn tortillas were to die for. Skeptical at first, I wondered how they could be much different than a traditional corn tortilla. But what I really wondered was: what is an heirloom corn tortilla in the first place?

I did a little research and the good folks at Rancho Gordo who are making fresh heirloom corn tortillas on Friday evenings and selling them the next morning at our local farmer's market raise a few good points. They source their corn from a small indigenous Mexican farm, hoping that by creating a demand for the heirloom corn products, farmers will be discouraged from continuing to produce GMO, industrialized corn. The theory: heirloom varieties are more interesting, tastier, and better for us.

So what the heck is "heirloom" corn in the first place? Long story short, it's the kind of corn our ancestors grew up eating—it's not a hybrid, manufactured version. Heirloom corn is currently not as easy to track down in stores, but that will change very, very soon. It simply tastes better. And I can't wait to get my hands on one of those tortillas next weekend to seal the deal once and for all. Have you tried any heirloom corn products?

Where to Buy Heirloom Corn Products:
Anson Mills: Try their heirloom cornmeal, polenta & grits
Farm Boy Flapjacks: Known for fabulous heirloom tortilla chips
Rancho Gordo: Great resource for dried corn, beans, and spices

Next time you're in San Francisco:
• Grab a Rancho Gordo heirloom tortilla at the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's Market
• Try Gracias Madre's incredible New Mexican dishes made with organic, heirloom tortillas

Related: How to Make Your Own Corn Tortillas