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Your Questions Answered: Why aren’t all Bob’s Red Mill products organic?

by Cassidy Stockton in Behind the Scenes, Featured Articles, Whole Grains 101

QuestionA few days ago, we asked our Facebook fans what question they would pose to Bob if they could ask him a single question. We promised to answer as many as we could. Many of these questions are more about our products than Bob specifically, so I’m going to answer some and I’ll have Bob weigh in on some.

USDA Organic Logo 6.15.07Today’s question: Why aren’t all Bob’s Red Mill products organic?

At Bob’s Red Mill, we strive to bring you as many organic choices as possible. There are a few reasons why we do not carry organic choices. In no particular order:

  1. An item is not available organically. For example, our gluten free oats. They are simply not grown organically right now. Because they are not your average oat crop, there is no organic substitute for them available. Ultimately, when this changes, I sincerely believe we will offer them organically.
  2. To offer an item organically would cause the consumer price of said product to be far too expensive. While we understand that some people would pay any price for an organic option, but we believe in affordable quality grains.
  3. We can’t find the quantity we need to take a product to market as organic. It could be the supply just isn’t available on the market that we need. If we can’t keep it in stock, we can’t bring it to you.

With these things in mind, we are always looking for organic varieties of our grains, beans and seeds. When we find the right fit, we often add it in order to bring you even more organic options.

What grain, bean or seed do you wish we would offer organically?

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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46 Responses to “Your Questions Answered: Why aren’t all Bob’s Red Mill products organic?”

    • At Bob’s Red Mill, we have made a commitment to purchase only non-GMO grains. All of our products are made from ingredients that were grown from identity-preserved, non-GMO seed. For more information about our GMO policy, please call our customer service team: 1-800-349-2173.

    • Mary,

      No, we do not use any GMO ingredients in our Pizza Crust Mix. At Bob’s Red Mill, we have made a commitment to purchase only non-GMO grains. All of our products are made from ingredients that were grown from identity-preserved, non-GMO seed. For more information about our GMO policy, please call our customer service team: 1-800-349-2173.

  1. Hi-

    I understand it’s not all certified organic, but there are lots of degrees of non-organic. Do you have standards around the practices of all the farmers you work with besides the non-GMO standard?

    Thanks!

    • We do have many standards for cleanliness and processing of grains. We require suppliers to attest to the safety of their ingredients, among other things and work to maintain good relationships with our farmers.

    • I’m not sure why you would make that assumption, John. Our gluten free oats do not contain any GMOs. Oats are not a crop that have been genetically modified on a large scale. We are currently in the process of becoming non-GMO Project certified.

  2. Well I hope you will attain the non-GMO Project certification because this carb loader loves oatmeat in its purest form. Any chance the oatmeal will be certified in the near future, especially the Extra Thick Rolled Oats?

    • We do offer all of our oats, with the exception of the gluten free oats and instant oats, as organic, so it could just be that your store doesn’t carry them. We are in the process of becoming members of the non-GMO Project. It takes quite a while and a lot of paperwork!

  3. I understand why not all products are organic and it’s great that you use only Non-GMO seeds. I know that ‘organic’ cert means no pesticides, etc. But, if I had no other choice, I would choose GMO grown without pesticides, etc over Non-GMO with pesticides. So, the question is:

    Are the Non-GMO products grown conventional, with pesticides, etc?

    I absoulutely will not purchase any of your Non-organic products unless thsy are freenof pesticides, etc and anything artificial.

    Thank, Tina

    • Tina,

      I am looking into an answer about the glyphosate use, but I think it’s safe to say our non-organic products are grown using industry standards for each particular crop. More info to come.

  4. Yes, please answer the glyphosate question for all too see. Remember the power of 10…..I tell 10 people, they tell 10 people and so on and so forth. Honesty is the best policy:)

    Thanks again, Tina

    • Tina,

      Unfortunately, we are unable to determine which specific chemicals, if any, are used on the conventionally grown products we sell. I can tell you for sure that the farmers must demonstrate safe agricultural practices in accordance to USDA law to work with us. If you are concerned about chemicals being used on crops, I would recommend that you purchase only certified organic products.

  5. Hello Cassidy,

    Thanks so much for letting us know that Bob’s Red Mill products are non-GMO. While it definitely takes a while to get certified, having this knowledge made me try your brand. I tasted my first “Whole Grain 10 Grain Hot Cereal” this week, and I am hooked. Thanks again for putting this out there on your blog. <3

  6. Bob Redmilll is a very large company and should not have any trouble with all the paperwork. This should have bed done awhile ago. Many companies claim
    To be waiting for gmo certification but have the same excuse ( time and paperwork )
    I say just get that paperwork done. Assign several people to the project. My boss would never put up with that excuse.
    I am doing the best job I can to rid my family of the gmo poison. We need help with companies like yours.

    • Barbara,

      Thank you. The paperwork has been submitted and we are awaiting certification. This is a problem with having only one certifying agency- The Non GMO Project. Believe me, we want the certification as badly as you do. We have endless customer requests for this and would like nothing more than to prove that we are, indeed, purveyors of non-GMO projects.

  7. Yes, I can see on the non gmo project sight that you are enrolled for verification.
    Thanks for your response.

  8. How long can any of your flours be stored in art tight Tupperware if kept in refrigerator. If stored in Tupperware on the shelf. My polenta stored on shelf spoiled.( I kept it too long and we do get allot of heat in the summer. We are going Paleo, but I want to break rules and make coconut flour pancakes for my diabetic husband on a rare occasion. I invested allot originally in your different products. Send answer to
    monroejoan16@gmail.com (Joan Monroe)

  9. I would like to see organic corn, rice, sorghum and buckwheat, available individually. All four are in the Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal (which, by the way, I did not find tasty at all); none of the four are noted on the label as being organic. I bought the Cereal in haste, without thinking about it not being organic. Won’t make that mistake again!

    • Thank you! We will pass along your suggestion. We do offer organic corn grits, organic brown rice farina and organic creamy buckwheat- all of which are organic versions of the ingredients in the Mighty Tasty Cereal. At this time, we do not have organic sorghum. We are so sorry that you didn’t enjoy our mighty tasty cereal.

  10. What is the difference between the label “organic” and “organically grown”? I’ve noticed the change in the label for the unbleached unbromated white flour. thank you!

    • Alex,

      I’m not really sure. We use both on our label, but I do not believe “Organically Grown” is regulated by the USDA. From what I can tell, it used to be, but is no longer. Likely, this claim on our label is just from an era when it was regulated and was never removed. The organic symbol (typically green and white) that says “USDA/Organic” is the regulated claim for organic now.

  11. Hi Cassidy,
    I do really appreciate all the company is doing for Non-GMO labelling – thank you!!! I very much like the Gluten Free product listing everything in one section. Is it possible to filter out all of the certified organic products too?
    This is all very new to me and it’s pretty confusing knowing what to buy and what not to. Reading this thread was educational for me – thanks! I’m not gluten intolerant, just finding that my body seems better without it; I am more concerned about ensuring my purchases are organic. I so want a decent GF organic bread receipe :) which cook book would you recommend?
    One last question: so the soya lethin(sp) is non-GMO, what about organic?

    Also, from what I’ve learned so far about products, I seek out to purchase as organic: corn, rice, barley, kamut, sorghum, telf, green pea, black bean.

    Kind regards,
    Penelope

  12. Hi Cassidy,

    I’ve recently become a big fan of some of your products I’ve tried. In haste, I hadn’t realized the organic & non-GMO issue. I must say, I was quite surprised to see that none of the products I’ve been eating are organic or certified non-GMO. So, here are my questions:

    1. If they are non-GMO, is that just the seed or is it also applicable re: any pesticides or other chemicals applied?

    2. If so, is it safe to assume that all products are non-GMO as described above?

    3. Will each (or any) of the following products be coming in organic, non-GMO and gluten-free varieties? (I mean all 3 of those applied to each product):

    a. shredded unsweetened coconut (0/3 based on the packaging)
    b. organic g-f coconut flour (obviously, this already has 2 out of 3)
    c. G-F Muesli (1 out of 3)
    d. Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal (currently 0/3) (incidentally, for the customer, above, who didn’t find it mighty tasty, I completely agree – when made w/ water. When I made it w/ coconut milk, it tasted AMAZING. Cassidy, you may wish to pass that along to others and customer service)
    e. G-F Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (1/3)

    Thank you so much. I love what you guys stand for. I must say it is a bit hard to imagine it has taken so long to get non-GMO certification. Its also difficult to understand same relating to Organic. I know you must be doing everything possible, but I imagine I and others will feel a lot better knowing EVERYTHING is non-GMO (not just the seeds, but also the chemicals not applied) and organic.

    Thank you very much.

    Best,

    Mitch

    • Hi Mitch,

      These would be great questions for our customer service team at 800-349-2173, but I’ll do my best to answer them. I think it’s important to realize that many ingredients are not even available in the market as GMO items. Secondly, there is a big difference between using pesticides and a product’s GMO status. I understand the desire to avoid both, but farmers can grow a non-GMO crop using conventional pesticides.

      1. Our products are grown from non-GMO seed. If they are not organic, they were grown using normal farming practices. We can not verify the GMO status of the pesticides. I’m not sure if The Non-GMO Project even looks at that.
      2. Our products are sourced non-GMO and we are working on our verification of all items. If you are concerned about pesticides, I encourage you to only choose organic products.
      3. a) Yes, our coconut will go through the verification process with all of our other items. We are seeking organic coconut, but have not found a reliable source yet. I do not believe we will start testing coconut for gluten, but it’s possible.
      b.) Part of the USDA’s National Organic Program requires that organic foods also be non-GMO. It is safe to assume that an organic product is non-GMO.
      c) GF Muesli will not become and organic product, but will be verified non-GMO in the future.
      d) Same as GF Muesli
      e) GF Oats will be submitted for non-GMO verification, though oats are not (yet) available as GMO crops. Gluten free grown oats are not yet widely available as organic, either. As soon as we can find a source, we will be bringing organic gluten free oats to market.

      As I said in another comment on this topic, “The Non-GMO Project is a wonderful group, but one that has far more requests for participation than resources to deal with those requests. We’ve been enrolled for almost a year and are just starting to get our products verified. It’s a slow process, but we are working diligently to get everything verified. Once items become verified, we will begin adding the logo to our packaging. You can view a list of items that have been verified here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/search/?brandId=3657 As you can see, it’s only one item to date, but, I assure you, it’s not for lack of effort on both sides. It’s just a slow process.”

  13. Cassidy,

    Thanks very much for your responses. I hadn’t even known about glyphosate until reading this blog, but having researched it, it does seem like quite a concerning issue. Given your firm holds itself out to be a provider of healthy foods, certainly, I would think this is an important issue both to you and your customers. I hope that doesn’t sound attacking; its not intended that way – more as an observation of the obvious. But I suppose its a bit unnerving to think that if your co does’nt know the answer, who knows how much of that stuff is in products I get from other sources?! Would you be able to please explain about not being able to answer? Is it that you don’t know what the farmers use? Would it seem like an issue for the co to pursue? It would be such a shame to go through all the effort to make everything so healthy, yet have something as toxic as glyphosate still be in the products – it kind of obviates the all the other efforts, no?

    Many thanks for your help!!! And pls be sure to see my comment about coconut milk making mighty tasty hot cereal actually taste “mighty tasty!” :)

    Thanks.

    Best,

    Mitch

    • Mitch,

      We appreciate your interest in issues related to our food products. Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc. is a miller of grains, beans and seeds. We also prepare mixes of grain based items as well as baking ingredients. Lastly we are a packager of these various food items. Bob’s does not directly control the way grains, beans and seeds are grown by the farmer. For that reason we cannot say how each crop is grown and treated before or after harvest.

      However, the farmers from whom we source our raw ingredients are expected to use the Best Agricultural Practices in the performance of that objective. Fertilizers and pesticides, if used, must be applied as the product label dictates or the farmer could be in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Farmers simply cannot use inappropriate chemicals or chemicals at the wrong concentration because they have a lot at stake, legally and financially.

      For customers who wish to eliminate the concern of chemicals in their food stream, the USDA has adopted and enforced a code of rules, the National Organic Program, which addresses the use or prohibition of chemicals for growing, processing and handling food deemed and marketed as organically processed. Bob’s Red Mill adheres to the National Organic Program standards in the production of its own organic product line. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides would not be allowable for use on organic crops at any stage in the production process.

  14. Glyphosate as a harvest chemical is a big concern to me, too. Nasty stuff. Especially to someone who has walked through gut-related sickness. I just wanted to say I’d LOVE to see some of your gluten-free mixes available with as many organic grains as possible. :) That would also ease my mind on the rice (conventional is said to be high in arsenic).

  15. Glyphosate is the chemical name for Roundup from Monsanto, a chemical used as a herbicide to kill weeds in GMO crop fields, but also as pre-harvesting chemical to assist drying crops that are NOT GMO. There are several dozen labs in the U.S. that test for glyphosates, so for Bob’s Red Mill to simply answer that “we don’t know what the farmers use” is a cop-put, plain and simple. If you really want to help people with celiac disease and other ailments who buy your “non-GMO” labelled products, then learn about the connection between glyphosate and celiac disease and get regular batches tested, and tell the farmers you buy from that if the grains test positive for glyphosate that they will lose your business. Please research this subject: many people who exhibit symptoms of gluten intolerance are actually reacting to the dangerous chemical glyphosate.

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