Have I said how much I love the Pacific Northwest? The other day a friend and I went to legendary Bob’s Red Mill Free Factory Tour and Restaurant in Portland, OR. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a feeling I would love the factory tour because I love any and all factory tours … ever since my stalwart middle school teacher took swarms of 7th graders on public transportation to the Coca Cola Bottling Factory where we could drink as much coke as we wanted!!! For a 14 y.o. in 1970 that was bliss …… but I digress! Factory tours are awesome!

It was pouring rain but easy to get to the SE area of Portland. Parking was a snap. As soon as we walked in, I could tell this was going to be informative! They had posted all sorts of photos and displays along the hallway and directional signage was clear. The welcoming area for the free tour was large. Several people welcomed us; the feeling was laid back yet purposeful. A promo-video ran non-intrusively on a large screen. My friend played the piano that just happened to be there (Bob loves the piano and plays frequently). There were areas with table displays, wall displays, clearly marked restrooms, water, and clearly marked walkways for the 440 staff and billions of tourists to peacefully coexist. This is a working factory! Hairnets, beard nets, and whatnot were easily accessible if needed. The entire public area was well organized and everywhere you looked was something interesting to read, touch (e.g. bowls of grains and beans), watch, or listen.

Our guide led us through an hour of discussion, video, peering through large picture windows to see the factory (oh cool eco-packaging on the conveyor belt, oh look there is a ton of grain, OMG several tons of flour are being mixed right now!). She handled the kids’ and adult questions with aplomb, she was animated and clearly a spot on representative of the company. Like all factories, it was very interesting to see how they do their work. Everything was scrupulously clean.

If you are not familiar with Bob’s Red Mill, please go their website for more information. Their shop and array of products is extensive. Bob’s grinds and sells hundreds of products including flour, baking essentials, gluten free products, mixes, cereals, oats, grains, beans, nuts & seeds, and nutritional boosters. Incidentally, their gluten free products get an entire separate wing of the factory so that no equipment comes in contact with gluten at any time.The gluten free department is its own, whole factory, that’s how seriously Bob’s takes it! Moreover, their standards are so high that everything goes through the organic protocol. This means that the highest levels of clean, safe protocols are used for all their grains and beans. They receive numerous awards and certificates of “excellence” for their processes and procedures. Bob’s is employee owned and there is tremendous pride evident in all they do.

What I like about Bob’s is their devotion to whole grain. As I discuss in session # 5 of my educational video program, a healthy diet includes all kinds of whole grains. It is important to recognize that most products on the grocery shelves are not whole grains. Most products are refined and then enriched. Enriched means that all the goodness of the whole grain has been stripped and chemicals have been added to make it better. That’s weird. Instead of eating a healthy delicious filling whole grain, most people eat nutritionally deficit grains “enriched” with chemicals and additives. The definition of a whole grain means that 100% of the original kernel – all of the bran, germ, and endosperm – must be present to qualify as a whole grain. 100% whole grains can be milled or ground into any type of flour or product.

The health benefits of whole grains are numerous! For example, choosing plant based, vegan foods such as whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, and beans can reduce heart risk factors by 30%! Whole grains can improve satiety (that wonderful feeling of fullness we all love so much), control blood sugar, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and insulin metabolism. Carbohydrates support the growth of healthy bacteria which means that whole grains are essential to healthy intestinal tract. They protect us against constipation and GI disorders. Whole grains are full of healthy micro-nutrients, antioxidants, phyto chemicals, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Go to The Grain Council to see a list of whole grains and learn about each one, including gluten free options. The site will also explain how to cook each grain properly.

Examples of whole grains include: Amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, kasha, bulgur, kamut, millet, oats/oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, spelt, teff, triticale, whole grain cornmeal, whole wheat, whole rye, and wild rice. This is a list of awesome grains to buy and eat. 

Examples of refined “enriched” grains include: Corn flakes, couscous, cream of wheat or rice cereal, de-germed cornmeal, enriched macaroni or spaghetti, grits, pretzels, puffed rice or wheat, white bread, and white rice. This is a list of not very good grains to buy and eat. 

I can hear people now saying, “Oh, but whole grains and carbohydrates make you fat!” NO NO NO, that is not correct! The global populations who eat the most whole grains and beans do not suffer from obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, or other chronic diseases so typical in our developed, “enriched”, refined, phony food world. Migration studies indicate that native people who move to the US experience elevated risk for chronic diseases as a result of giving up traditional grains and beans (carbohydrate) rich meals for meat based nutrition. In other words, when people move to developed countries, they get the diseases of that developed country.

It is easy to add more whole grains to your daily nutrition. Simply look on the label for 100% whole grain and don’t buy food unless it is 100% whole grain. Bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, rice, noodles, wraps, scones, muffins, even cookies and cake, anything can be made with 100% whole grain! The next time you shop, look on the label and only buy 100% whole grain. Your body will thank you!

Next time you come to Portland Oregon, be sure to check out Bob’ Red Mill Free Factory Tour too!