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Bob’s Red Mill Visit

by Karen on February 6th, 2012


I spent a great day with Bob Moore at Bob’s Red Mill last week!

Bob runs quite an impressive operation.
(Actually the employees own the place now, more on that in a minute.)

After the visit, I thought a lot about Stone Ground Whole Grain Flour………

…..many people may not realize what this means exactly…….though it is quite simple:

Pure whole grains go into the stone grinding mill, for example: corn kernels go in and depending on the setting it comes out as corn flour or corn meal. Bob’s stone mills ensure the most nutritious parts of the whole grain remain, so all-natural goodness goes right into your bag.  They grind whole grains at cool temperatures with traditional stone mills from Denmark (they have over 10!), a time-honored technique for quality results.

A stone grinding mill

Bob’s is the source for any kind of gluten free flour you may need: amaranth, teff, brown rice, tapioca, corn, sorghum, coconut, almond, millet….  He really feeds the world with his flour — wheat-filled flour is also a part of his product mix.  Distribution is nationwide AND to 71 countries!  I had no idea his business had grown so large.

Bob took the time to listen to early leaders in the gluten free world.  I was on the Board for the Gluten Intolerance Group many years ago and watched this process unfold.

Bob’s is Dedicated to Gluten Free

Bob’s 325,000 square foot manufacturing facility includes a separate, dedicated, gluten free facility using only pure, gluten free grains. He produces over 50 gluten free items. Each batch is tested and documented in his state-of-the-art lab to assure its gluten free status.   You can rest assured every effort has been made to provide you with the highest quality pure gluten free products.

This might be a good moment to let new readers know that I don’t give praise unless it is something I truly believe and/or admire!  The wide availability of his products has greatly simplified the lives of many on a gluten free diet.

A Can-do Spirit of Whole Grain Goodness

Bob has taken his expertise as an engineer and his commitment to whole grain goodness and turned it into a business that is quite self-sufficient.  If a specialized machine is needed to solve a problem, they build it in the welding room.  When their 25-pound bags needed to be customized on-site, they set up a printing press in the facility to print the bags.

Customizing the label on printing press

25-pound bags for commercial use.

For most grocery stores, product is shipped in 4-to-a-pack boxes so the individual bags stand tall on the shelf and are protected during shipment. In-store staff remove the top portion of the box when it is placed on the shelf.

Bob with the 4 to a pack boxes

There is a test kitchen for recipe development,

Bob's Red Mill recipe test kitchen

a lab for product testing, and a world class warehouse.

Nutrition and Wellness

I think it takes a special person to bring a business to life.

Bob and his wife Charlee encountered many challenges developing the business and turned them into opportunities that have enriched their lives and the lives of their employees.

Most recently they established a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University to finance research that measurably reduces chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and metabolic disorders and emphasizes the health value of whole grains.  This is important research with far reaching implications.  We must begin to change our ways dramatically.  With 10,000 people turning 65 every day for the next 20 years it is imperative that our society consist of much healthier people—otherwise it will be impossible to address rampant chronic disease within our current medical infrastructure.  (I spent a portion of the past year working with chronic disease patients, I have seen where we are heading on this issue and it is mind boggling.)

An Amazing Gluten Free Experience   

After the tour with Bob, we went to the Whole Grain Store and Visitor’s Center down the street for lunch and an incredible shopping extravaganza in all things gluten free (they have many products for those on gluten-filled diets too, something for everyone).

Everyone knows Bob—we have known him through his likeness on our flour bags for years and we have appreciated his efforts for so long, it only stands to reason that when he walks in the door at the store he is THE Rock Star.  But what I loved the most during my visit were the little kids eating lunch there.  And let me tell you, the place was packed for lunch— probably because it is a community gathering place with good food, a warm welcome, and a special goodness that embraces you.   It seems the children know Bob as well as they know Santa— they know he carries around special coins that turn into a cookie when redeemed at the bakery counter!

I bet they also know he sometimes plays a lively tune on the piano upstairs…..

Many in the community must know that on Bob’s 81st birthday he gave each employee a stake in the company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) which will insure its stability locally and prevent a corporate buy-out —–so naturally Bob is thanked on a daily basis by those who see him in the store.  (Click onto the video here to see the Diane Sawyer American Heart story.)

Breakfast and Lunch at Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store  

Plan to visit and stay to eat!

For lunch, I purposely selected a Reuben sandwich on wheat free bread to see how the bread would stand up to a messy sandwich.  Bob said they use a recipe from Carol Fenster, I am happy to report it was delicious and the bread did not fall apart.  The bread is made in the on-site bakeryat the store; it is noted as wheat free as opposed to gluten free.  Wheat free can mean many things, but at Bob’s Red Mill it is called wheat free because it is an open-air bakery within the store so there is a possibility of cross contamination with flour dust in the air. Not everyone is that sensitive but some people are— so the bakery food must be called wheat free.  This is another example of the extraordinary attention to detail at Bob’s Red Mill.  (This is not to be confused with the manufacturing facility down the road which features a dedicated gluten free facility.)

Gluten Free Shopping  

Just a glimpse of the huge store

I felt like a kid in a candy store and shopped for at least an hour stocking up on gluten free flour, cooking utensils, and baked goods.

All gluten free cookbooks

There is a wall of gluten free cookbooks and a wide variety of gluten free grocery items.

Schedule a Mill Tour at Bob’s World Headquarters Manufacturing Facility 

On your way to the Oregon wine country, plan a trip to Bob’s for a mill tour (check out the details on their beautiful, easy-to-use website and then to the Whole Grain Store for a tax-free “stock-up on essentials” spree. You can also save 10% on case packs and there are in-store specials too. 

When I was there I discovered a new book called the Gluten Free Asian Kitchen , for me it is the only other gluten free book I need  (–besides my own of course because Asian food has always been a challenge to adapt).  Laura includes recipes for all of the Asian sauces you cannot buy and helps you identify sources of gluten in common Asian ingredients with a great chart for alternatives.  She explains common Asian ingredients, has recipes for dumplings and pancakes.  I cannot wait to adapt my friend Michiko’s pot sticker recipe using Laura’s gluten free “gyoza” dough!

Laura has a cooking class on soup coming up at Bob’s, this is an excellent time for a visit!  There is also a 10% store discount for those taking cooking classes.

I hope you have a chance to visit this year!

And be sure to look for Bob and share your appreciation.

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