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At True Grain, we remain committed to the time honoured method of freshly crafting pure, natural, stone ground, organic grain products; the way nature intended:

  • Pure – we seek non-hybridized heritage and ancient grains like Red Fife, Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, Khorasan, & Rye
  • Natural – we mill on natural stones and do not add conditioners or preservatives
  • Stone Ground – we grind slowly and at low temperatures to maintain the integrity & nutrients of the grain
  • Organic – we value organic farming methods which foster healthy communities

The True Grain Mill Process

These mills are very simple technology that has been around for hundreds of years. The grain is poured into a hopper at the top. The grain gets crushed between 2 stones. The lower stone is stationary, the upper stone turns slowly. The ground “whole grain” comes out of the main chute. If a coarser meal is desired, the stones are adjusted apart and the grain is cracked instead of ground. If a finer, sifted product is desired the whole grain is run through a series of sifter screens where brushes push the grain along the chamber. The sifted wheat drops through the mesh sieves and the coarser middlings and bran come out the later chutes.

What are the benefits of stone milling?

Stone milling is generally fresher because it is done in smaller scale settings. The second benefit is that because of the lower temperature it is believed that the nutrients remain more intact. Aside from the temperature, stone-milling simply does not remove as much of the bran, which is the vitamin rich part of the kernel, so more ends up in the bread.

At True Grain, we found three more advantages of milling grain ourselves that were more important.; Food Security (and Food Miles), hybridization of wheat, and commercial milling practices of white flour.

Food Security (and Food Miles)

When people think about grain in Canada, they think of the prairies. No doubt, Canadian prairie farmers are some of the most talented and dedicated in the world. But it’s still a long way from BC. Since we started sourcing all of or organic grain from BC farms, we estimate we’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions related to inbound transportation of flour and grain, by a whopping 68%. That’s an annual net reduction of 11 Metric tonnes of CO2.

One aspect of a sustainable food system is agricultural diversity. We’ve purchased BC organic grain from farmers on Vancouver Island, the North Okanagan, the Kootenays, and the Peace River Valley.

Buying local organic grain allows us to encourage organic farmers to grow more ancient grains and heritage wheat, instead of the more-of-the-same choice of modern wheat. It allows farmers to increase their knowledge and experience growing these more challenging varieties, and it means a more varied, more nutritious diet for all of us.

Modern Wheat Hybridization

“Are these ancient grains gluten free?” is a question we get asked a lot at our bakeries. Quick answer – no they’re not.
However, the gluten found in ancient grains like Emmer, Spelt, Khorasan and Rye, which have been around thousands of years, is not the same as that of modern wheat. Why? The answer is hybridization.
Humans have been interbreeding plants for centuries. It’s done to increase the positive attributes and breed out the negative ones. In Canada, much hybridization of wheat has occurred since the 1940s, mainly to produce wheat with a shorter growing time, and to dwarf the plants in order to achieve higher yield per acre.
When a plant is hybridized, up to five per cent of the protein (gluten) found in the offspring do not exist in either parent plant. (Ref article: Identification of differently expressed proteins between hybrid and parents in wheat)
Now imagine the wheat is hybridized over and over again, hundreds of times. The new wheat gluten is nothing like what it once was. The 1% of Canadians who suffer from Celiac disease cannot eat any form of gluten, whether modern wheat or ancient grains. However, for those who do not have Celiac Disease but have found digestive issues when eating modern wheat, bread made with ancient grain or heritage wheat may offer a solution.*
*We are not doctors. We recommend consulting a physician and discussing different options before experimenting.

Commercial Milling Practices of White Flour

Canadian laws require two main criteria that must be met in order to call flour, “white flour:”
  • It must be ground fine and bran must be removed to a threshold of under 149 microns.
  • It must be enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and iron. In most cases, the enriched minerals are outlined on the label, but not required by the legislation. These requirements are not applicable to sifted grains such as spelt, emmer or red fife, but it is for modern wheat.

In addition, the law allows manufactures to add a host of additives, none of which are required to be named on the ingredient label. If you dare, read the full list here.

These additives are used to preserve the flour, make it look more appetizing, and make it perform better by enhancing gluten development and baking properties. Some of these additives have been the cause of controversy, such as azodicarbonamide, a chemical used as whitening agent in flour.

At True Grain Bread, we don’t think this should be in our food, so we either mill our own grain or buy organic wheat that we have steel milled into unbleached, untreated white flour.

True Grain tip:

  • Look for flour labelled as “unbleached”. That takes care of the chlorines and bleaching agents.
  • Organic flour typically has less added to it than conventional flour, (but not necessarily)
  • Ask questions of the manufacturer for a list of exactly what is in it.
  • Seek out small scale producers or retailer who sell sifted wheat instead of flour or flour that declares untreated and unbleached