Kathleen Merrigan: the champion of small farmers. Photo borrowed from Wikipedia

Kathleen Merrigan: A “local” hero

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health
Kathleen Merrigan: the champion of small farmers. Photo borrowed from Wikipedia

Kathleen Merrigan: the champion of America's small farmers. Photo borrowed from Wikipedia

A few days ago, I had never heard the name Kathleen Merrigan, but I should have. In 1990, Merrigan authored the bill that set standards for organically-grown foods in the U.S.1 Today, Merrigan is the deputy secretary at the US Department of Agriculture under Tom Vilsack. Merrigan is a hero to the sustainable food movement, an organic food expert and a champion of America’s small farmers. With ideas that include mobile slaughterhouses that would allow small ranches access to processing equipment and ideas to improve and assist community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, her program is aptly named “Know Your Farmers, Know Your Food.” 2

When she stepped into office last spring, none of the 2009 budget set aside for local food had been touched. Merrigan immediately took up the reigns and started shaking up the USDA offices. Merrigan is changing the way that the USDA handles small farmers and has already started a program that will allow conventional farmers to receive grant money to switch to organic farming practices. Much like Jamie Oliver with his school lunch woes, Merrigan is pushing to find ways to make it easier for schools to purchase local produce and improve the menus in our country’s schools.

Merrigan is up against some big players in the USDA and the agricultural industry, but she is not alone in this battle. She has found support on all levels of the USDA from people who were previously afraid to speak out and she has us, members of local food chains voting with our dollars to find things locally and organically.

  1. http://www.whorunsgov.com/Profiles/Kathleen_Merrigan
  2. http://flavormagazinevirginia.com/one-of-us/
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Bob's vanilla cake featuring Charlee and him.

Bob’s Big Birthday News!

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles
Bob's vanilla cake featuring Charlee and him.

Bob's vanilla cake featuring Charlee and him.

We celebrated Bob’s 81st birthday on Monday with cake, cake and more cake. It takes a lot of cake to share with 209 employees. In addition to sharing his cake, Bob announced that he, along with his partners in business,  is passing ownership of this company into the hands of his employees. This ensures the future of Bob’s Red Mill will be managed by employees who care passionately about the company’s success.

Employees were overwhelmed with the announcement and heartened to hear that their future is secure with this new development. For years, Bob has declined offers to buy the company or take the company public. Most of my coworkers have been uncertain about what will happen in five, ten years. Bob’s gift to us has ensured that the employees and the company will have a future together.

What does this mean for you? Really, nothing much. The company will continue to produce high quality whole grains and gluten free foods as we always have. Don’t worry, Bob isn’t going anywhere. Possibly my favorite quote from all of his interviews this week is this one from The Oregonian, “I may have given them the company,” he said, chuckling, “but the boss part is still mine.”

Partners Bob Moore, Robert Agnew, Dennis Gilliam and John Wagner sign over ownership of the company Tuesday morning.

Partners Bob Moore, Robert Agnew, Dennis Gilliam and John Wagner sign over ownership of the company Tuesday morning.

Want more info?

Read the article on the front page of The Oregonian. Read the press release.

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It was very cold serving oatmeal, but the sunshine helped.

Bend Cyclocross Nationals Recap

by Cassidy Stockton in Cycling, Featured Articles
It was very cold serving oatmeal, but the sunshine helped.

It was very cold serving oatmeal, but the sunshine helped.

The weather was frightful, but the oatmeal was delightful! The Nationals for Cyclocross took place last weekend in Bend, Oregon and riders from all over the country flocked to watch and ride against some of the best in the country. We heard the weather was cold, but hit the road to join the fans just the same. Upon arrival in Bend, which is just the most lovely little town, we were confronted with a beautiful winter wonderland. The temps were very cold (the rumored temp was a whopping 10°F), but the sun was shining so we got to work cooking up oats. The race course on day one was very icy, but people were still having fun. We had a good time trying to keep the oatmeal hot and the milk from freezing solid. As the weekend wore on, the weather got warmer and the icy course became the traditional cyclocross mud pit.

Even with the mud, the hard course and the cold weather, every person I met was so happy to be out there racing and cheering on their friends. Thanks to everyone who came out and showed their support. Together we raised over $3000 for the Community Cycling Center this season. That’s over 60 bikes for kids in need! We can’t wait to get back out there next fall and look forward to seeing you!

To give you a picture of what the riders were up against, this was a fairly clear spot.

To give you a picture of what the riders were up against, this was a fairly clear spot.

Team member, Brendan, runs up the slick stairs on Saturday. We were so proud!

Team member, Brendan, runs up the slick stairs on Saturday. We were so proud!

The folks at the Nationals set up what they called the "Bob's Bowl" which was a nearly impossible to navigate corner.

The folks at the Nationals set up what they called the "Bob's Bowl" which was a nearly impossible to navigate corner.

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Ivy Manning's Farm to Table: The Art of Eating Locally is filled with delicious ways to eat with the seasons.

December Giveaways!

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles
Ivy Manning's Farm to Table: The Art of Eating Locally is filled with delicious ways to eat with the seasons.

Ivy Manning's Farm to Table: The Art of Eating Locally is filled with delicious ways to eat with the seasons.

December is definitely the season of giving and we’re no exception. This month to celebrate the holidays, the end of the year, and just celebrate in general, we’re giving away some of our favorite cookbooks. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be giving away five beautiful cookbooks full of delicious recipes.

Today, I’m giving one lucky reader a signed copy of Ivy Manning’s The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally. Ivy has been a guest chef at our cooking school for years and lives here in Portland, Oregon. Her easy-to-tackle recipes feature seasonal vegetables paired with sustainably raised or harvested seafood, meat and poultry.

Ivy has included beautiful photography and helpful information, such as tips for making the most out of your farmer’s market and how to make it through the winter (the season which many of us cannot fathom meals without fresh vegetables). Winter recipes that are making me drool? Hazelnut Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote, Clam and Smoked Salmon Chowder, Twice-Baked Irish Potatoes with Stout Onions and Kale and that’s not the half of it!

How to enter:

Leave me a comment below and tell me what you have done in the last year to make your life a little more sustainable. It doesn’t need to be mind-blowing or have a huge impact, just tell me a little bit about how you are making the world a better place. I’ll select a winner randomly from all those who comment by midnight on Wednesday (12/9).

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Trey and Dave may be on the same cyclocross team, but they have different tastes when it comes to football champs.

Friendly Rivalry

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles
Trey and Dave may be on the same cyclocross team, but they have different tastes when it comes to football champs.

Trey and Dave may be on the same cyclocross team, but they have different tastes when it comes to football champs.

If you’re not from Oregon, it’s possible that you haven’t heard about the big game today and the rivalry involved. Each year, our two major state universities, Oregon State and University of Oregon, battle it out in the Civil War for bragging rights. This year, however, the Civil War yields a better prize than simple bragging rights- a chance to compete in the Rose Bowl on January 1st.

photo courtesy of North 45 Pub http://www.north45pub.com/2007/11/

photo courtesy of North 45 Pub http://www.north45pub.com/2007/11/

Will it be the Oregon State Beavers or the U of O Ducks that take home the title of champs this year? Two of our cyclocross team members, Trey Winthrop and Dave Geiter have long debated the skills of their respective teams and showed up in game day attire today. We couldn’t help fueling the fire by making them pose together. Who are you rooting for?

Us? We’re very proud of everyone and excited to see an Oregon team make it to the Rose Bowl.

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Matt Cox receives Mayor Jeremy Ferguson's lapel pin.

Golden Spurtle Update & Give Away 3

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle
The Milwaukie, Oregon Flag

The Milwaukie, Oregon Flag

It got a little hectic today at the Whole Grain Store during our Bon Voyage party for the Golden Spurtle team. Oats were flying, pears were sizzling and sugar was dripping down the sides of mini-ramekins. We welcomed over a dozen special guests and media representatives to join us for Oregon Orchard Oat Brulee (whew! what a long name!!). Milwaukie, Oregon Mayor, Jeremy Ferguson presented Matt Cox with a City of Milwaukie flag and Jeremy’s very own lapel pin- right off of his jacket- to properly represent Milwaukie in Scotland. Thanks, Jeremy!

With only 11 days until our competition, practice sessions have been heating up with only a few minor burns (that sugar gets HOT when it melts!).  We’re practicing every day to be sure we represent Bob’s Red Mill, Oregon and the United States with the finest batch of oatmeal we can muster.

Watch our progress as we fly from Oregon to Scotland and enter the competition by subscribing to this blog, following us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Now for the last pre-competition give away!

To enter to win a beautiful myrtle-wood spurtle and package of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats- simply guess how many competitors will be strutting their stuff before the Golden Spurtle judges. Closest to correct will win the prize! Just post your guess in the comments section below. If we get too many correct submissions- we’ll randomly select from those who nailed it.

Matt Cox receives Mayor Jeremy Ferguson's lapel pin.

Matt Cox receives Mayor Jeremy Ferguson's lapel pin.

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This is a hazelnut in the husk- a perfect addition to our presentation.

Golden Spurtle: Oregon Hazelnuts and a Giveaway!

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Featured Articles, Golden Spurtle
Nancy and Polly were so helpful and happily toured me around the farm.

Nancy and Polly were so helpful and happily toured me around the farm.

Part of the Golden Spurtle competition is plating your gastronomic creation. Not only does your oatmeal concoction need to taste amazing, it needs to look beautiful too. As part of our plating, we wanted to highlight the beauty in all of our Oregon ingredients- deep green pears, rich red cherries and fresh hazelnuts.

This is a hazelnut in the husk- a perfect addition to our presentation.

Hazelnut in the husk still on the tree.

Oregon provides 99% of all hazelnuts grown in the United States. Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting Rich and Nancy Birkemeier at their hazelnut farm, Birkemeier Farms, in Canby, Oregon. I was on the hunt for the beautiful hazelnut husks to use as part of our plate presentation and was rewarded with a bounty of green, husk covered hazelnuts. Upon arrival, I received a warm welcome from Nancy. Polly, from the Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board, who had so kindly set up my visit, met me at the farm and together they explained all about hazelnut farming in Oregon.

Hazelnuts being harvested.

Hazelnuts being harvested.

I was very lucky to visit during harvest season and was witness to the hustle and bustle that takes place for six weeks of the year.  The beauty of the farm- rolling hills of tree upon tree- was breathtaking. The ground had a golden sheen from the thousands of freshly fallen hazelnuts, no doubt representative of their immense worth to these people. I learned all about how hazelnuts are grown, harvested and the challenges the farmers face each year.

Thanks again to Rick, Nancy and Polly for giving me the grand tour yesterday!

Giveaway:

Hazelnuts are delicious on their own, but they can also be used to turn an average dessert into something truly decadent and a savory meal into something out of this world. This week, we’re giving away our second spurtle set. To enter- simply post a link to your favorite or any delicious sounding hazelnut recipe in the comment field. On Friday, we will randomly select a winner from all who post.

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Bob proudly displays our Muesli

Ain’t it grand? Hawthorne Fred Meyer’s Grand Re-opening

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles
Jan Chernus, Jessica Olson, Bob and Fans at the Grand Re-opening of Hawthorne Fred Meyer

Jan Chernus, Jessica Olson, Bob and Fans at the Grand Re-opening of Hawthorne Fred Meyer

On Friday, July 31st, Hawthorne Fred Meyer celebrated the Grand Re-opening of their newly remodeled store. The new “Green Living” store is the first of its kind in the Fred Meyer family (owned by Kroger) and is designed to be an Earth-friendly grocery experience. The store is certified under the US Green Building Council’s LEED program. New store features include an expanded Nutrition Center (where our products are found), a fresh sushi bar, gourmet cheeses and desserts, an expanded deli and even an electric car charging station!

Bob was asked to come out and celebrate the Grand Opening. With Jan Chernus and Jessica Olson (both from our Western sales team) in tow, Bob made a grand spectacle by handing out samples of our Gluten Free Brownie Mix (which was a big hit) and taking photos with customers. The event had a great turnout and Bob was the star of the show. People were continually amazed that he is indeed a real person and right in their own back yard.

For those of you in the Portland area, there are still Grand Opening events going on through the end of next week. Visit FredMeyer.com for a schedule of events.

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Crowds gathered to show support and raise funds for autism awareness.

Autism Walk-a-thon Recap

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles
Crowds gathered to show support and raise funds for autism awareness. 

 

Crowds gathered to show support and raise funds for autism awareness.

On Sunday, April 19th, 11 Bob’s Red Mill employees along with their friends and family (making a total of 34 walkers) joined together to support the Autism Society of Oregon by participating in the ASO walk-a-thon. The walk-a-thon took place at Oaks Parkhere in Portland, Oregon on a beautiful, sunny day. Over 4,000 people walked to show their support for the ASO and raise money for their programs. The ASO has many beneficial programs that assist families living with autism, including everything from support groups for parents, Respite Care Programs to aid caregivers, and assistance with therapy and school programs for children on the autism spectrum.

The Bob's Red Mill Team

The Bob's Red Mill Team

Bob’s Red Mill is proud to support the ASO and Autism Speaks and bring more awareness to autism spectrum disorder. As a team, we raised $1271 for their programs. If you are interested in helping support ASO or Autism Speaks, there are many ways to get involved. Visit the websites below for more information. We are sponsoring a walk in Portland with Autism Speaks in September. Watch for ways that you can get involved this fall!

This was our youngest walker, Josephine, all tuckered out from the sun.

This was our youngest walker, Josephine, all tuckered out from the sun.

Autism Society of Oregonwww.oregonautism.com

Autism Speaks:www.autismspeaks.org

 

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obama gift basket

A Brush with the Executive Wing

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles
A few months ago, Bob had the lucky chance to get seated next to David Zimmel, a Portland real estate developer on a flight back from Hawaii. Bob and Dave hit it off and spent the entire flight talking about Portland, Bob‘s Red Mill, and Dave’s real estate in Hawaii. At the end of the flight, the two parted ways and that was that, or so we thought.

During the hustle and bustle of December, Bob received a phone call from Dave inviting us to include some of our favorite products in the Oregon-only welcome baskets he was making. The gift baskets would welcome the families that were renting his homes in Hawaii for the Christmas holiday.

And guess what?

The person renting the home was none other than President-elect Barack Obama and his family. Of course, we were very excited to be included in the gift baskets for the Obamas and their guests. We hurried around the mill and collected granolas, cereals, pancake mixes, oats and anything else we could think of that he or his girls might like.

A few days ago, we heard from Dave that our products were well received by the Obamas. The chef cooking for them was familiar with our products and prepared them for the guests.

Some of the other fine Oregon companies that were included in the baskets were Tillamook Cheese, Pelican Brewery, ArborBrook Vineyards and the Trailblazers.

To read more about the Obamas’ stay in Hawaii, check out this great article from the Portland Tribune.

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