Great River Organic Milling

Great River Organic Milling

by: Carl Haakensted, Bulk Buyer

In preparation for the Eat Local, America! event that was held during the month of September, staff at Oneota set out to label our products with special signage to better inform customers about our local options.  I was proud to note that our bulk department stocked a number of flours and grains that qualify as local by our Co-op’s definition – within 100 miles.  Most of these flours come from a company called Great River Milling in Fountain City, Wisconsin, just across the river from Winona, MN.  As I sought, and found, more information about this small local milling company, I became excited to be carrying their fine products.  At this time of year with baking season approaching (or already here for some people), I thought it would be perfect to let you know a little more about the Great River Milling products we carry in the Oneota Co-op Bulk Department.

Great River Milling started grinding organic grains harvested from nearby farms in the mid-1970’s.  In their words, “before organic was cool”.  The original mill, Little Bear Trading Company, went bankrupt in 1992.  The mill was later purchased by former employees who then re-opened the mill under the name Great River Milling.  Four years ago, in 2007, Great River was purchased by Rick Halverson.  Rick purchased the mill under one condition: that the current owners stay on and run the mill they resurrected from bankruptcy.  Since then the mill has prospered as sales have grown along with America’s exponential increase of interest in organic, whole, slow foods.

One important reason I am glad to carry flours and grains from Great River Milling is that they source all of their grains from the Midwest.  And if that’s not enough, Great River Milling is one of the few mills in the U.S. that still grinds grain on granite millstones.  Milling on granite stones was the standard for centuries before techniques for milling more refined flours were developed in the 1870’s.  At the time, new milling techniques allowed for longer shelf lives of flours and meals but the nutritional value of the resulting powders suffered. (Hence, the need to enrich white flours was realized and became common practice).  When grains are milled on granite stones, the whole wheat kernel is integrated into the flour and retains the taste and nutritional integrity of the whole grain.

Nutritional value and hearty taste aside, Great River Milling has another great reason to be considered a great local business.  They recently became the first food and beverage company in Wisconsin to be Green E certified.  Being Green E certified means that they purchase only renewable energy credits for 100 percent of their electricity usage.

For all of these reasons and because they taste so darn good, I have decided to carry as many Great River Milling products in the Co-op as possible – including all three of our whole wheat flours in our bulk department.  Current Great River Product we carry: All-Purpose Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Pastry, Whole Wheat Bread, Buckwheat Flour, Barley Flour, and Cracked Wheat.

This recipe is from the Great River Milling website.  A healthy, delicious cake that calls for applesauce hopefully made from some local apples and put up in jars or in your freezer.  I look forward to seeing you among the bins in the bulk department.

Favorite Applesauce Cake

4 cups Great River
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup honey
1 cup canola oil
3 cups unsweetened applesauce, warm
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together flour, soda, salt, spices and cocoa. In a large mixing bowl combine oil and honey. Beat until well blended. Stir in the applesauce, blending thoroughly. Add dry ingredients, blending well. Stir in raisins and walnuts. Spread batter in two 9″ x 9″ or one 9″ x 13″ greased pans. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degree and bake about 20 minutes longer. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.