Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bob's Red Mill

Love this company.
More function than feng shui,
our bulk supply of whole grains.
Anyone who visits our kitchen remarks on our bulk supply selection of Bob's Red Mill whole grains.  "It's like being in a bulk co op," says our neighbor.  The metal shelving and recycled white buckets provide easy access to our favorites: we eat oatmeal pretty much every day for breakfast (Gene likes dried fruit toppings; I prefer nuts and dried berries), regularly make 5-minute-a-day artisan bread (a shared pursuit and requested for most pot lucks), and often prepare an awesome 13-bean soup (Gene's forté) and lentil soup (my specialty, plus the soups go well with the bread).

To support our whole-grain habit, we head over to Bob's Red Mill Store in Milwaukie located just a few miles down the road from us a couple times a year and pick up some 25-lb bags of supplies. It's a really fun scene, has great products, and is even more fun to support since Bob turned the company over to all of its employees a few years ago.

Last fall, I had been hankering to take a tour of their manufacturing facility (just a mile down the street from their Store with tours offered every weekday), when serendipitously I attended Zenger Farm's annual fundraiser where Bob's Red Mill -- a huge supporter of Zenger Farm -- had offered a VIP tour as part of the auction.  I won the bid and get excited to go behind the scenes at the mill!  To prepare, I read Bob's inspiring book, "People Before Profit" by Ken Koopman, met with Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dennis Gilliam and assembled a party of 9 friends interested in whole grain goodness. Last weekend all the planets aligned and we took our wonderful VIP behind-the-scenes tour.

Thank you so much to Dennis for your time on a rainy Saturday when you could have been paging through the NY Times, to Lori and Julie for behind-the-scenes cuing up, to my friends for joining me on this adventure (thanks Mitch for sharing your photos), and of course to Bob, whom I've met briefly at the store and admire from afar. For anyone interest in the well-being of the planet, be sure to keep your eyes open for OHSU's findings about maternal nutrition and wellness - fascinating stuff.

Dennis invited me to turn the corn sheller, a restored relic from days of old.  Famous hands have touched this piece of equipment so now I've joined the ranks!
This book is how it all began -- Bob's wife, Charlee, got into whole grains and nutrition, then Bob read this book and got inspired to try his hand at milling with his sons.
Meredith Sorensen and Dennis Gilliam connect over an antique quartz millstone.
We donned hair nets and went behind the scenes.
(Oh My Grain)
Friendly staff.
Surrounded by 300,000 square feet of whole grains.
This is one of their many bagging machines with the labels embedded into the film plastic.
Garbanzo bean flour, apparently very good for making crepes. Who knew?
Katie, Alexis, Meredith, Becky, Jonathan, Ethan, baby Amelia, Gusty, Mitch, Nancy, and Gene.
The good times continued to roll at a yummy lunch down the street at the BRM Store.
Parting shot: Looking forward to trying out the Irish Soda Bread mix.

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