A Visit to Bob’s Red Mill

Last month I entered a Pinterest contest to promote the new Gluten Free Muesli from Bob’s Red Mill. I was one of the lucky winners, and for my prize I received a case of their Gluten Free Muesli, a fancy Le Creuset cereal bowl and a $50 gift card for their Whole Grains Store. Since I am a hands-on person who likes to know exactly where my food comes from, I chose to drive the 40 minutes across the Portland metro area to the Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters to redeem my gift card, rather than shop via their online store.

Free 90-minute guided factory tours are offered at their World Headquarters in Milwaukie, Oregon at 10 AM Monday – Friday throughout the year. That’s where my husband and I began our visit. The tour began with a 14-minute video outlining a brief history of the mill, their first ever commercial and some of the quality control measures they take to ensure all of their products meet a high standard. Our tour guide, Christie, then led us to several observation windows where we got to observe their factory workers in action and learn how their products are made.

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We spent most of our time just outside their gluten free facility, where they take great measures to ensure there’s no cross-contamination from their facility that process wheat and other gluten-containing grains. We learned about how milling grains the old-fashioned way is oftentimes more effective than using highly-modernized technology. I was impressed to learn that Bob’s Red Mill only uses grains that are free from genetically-modified organisms and that they buy their grains as close to their factory as possible (much of it comes from farms in Oregon and Washington).

A highlight of the tour for me was seeing company founder Bob Moore himself. At 84, he still manages to come to work almost every day. Today he was testing out a newly tuned piano they’re preparing to move to the Whole Grain Store for Friday afternoon jam sessions. He said playing the piano keeps his mind active well into his 80s.

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At the end of the tour, we got to take home free samples of several items in their “Grains of Discovery” product line, which features diverse grains from around the world such as amaranth, sorghum and teff. I look forward to getting creative in the kitchen soon!

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We then headed a mile up the road to their Whole Grain Store for lunch and shopping.

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Their restaurant is open until 3 PM Monday – Saturday. I was pleased to learn they serve breakfast all day, so I opted for a late second breakfast of scrambled eggs, grits, steamed spinach and delicious buttermilk biscuits. It was enough food for two meals. My husband seemed quite happy with his turkey swiss melt sandwich served with carrot sticks and whole grain chips. Meals are reasonably priced at $5 – $9 and nothing is fake or processed. Even the condiments on the table were free from high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients (this is something I always check when eating out).

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With nearly 400 products to chose from in their Whole Grains Store, it wasn’t hard to spend my $50 gift certificate, but a bit of a challenge to decide which products we wanted to try.

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I ended up spending $65, mostly because I decided to buy a copy of Bob’s biography. My husband and I will definitely be eating well for at least the next month!

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I would recommend a visit to Bob’s Red Mill as a fun and informative half-day trip in the Portland, Oregon metro area to foodies, healthy-conscious people, nerdie types and tactile learners alike. In an age when so many US-based food companies are sacrificing health and quality in favor of large profits for managers and CEOs, it’s nice to know there are still companies around that do things the old-fashioned way.

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