Important UPDATE 9/30/22: Due to the testing efforts from Gluten-Free Watchdog, I can no longer recommend this brand of oats. They are currently testing above 20 parts per million gluten, which is NOT safe for those who must avoid gluten.
Today I’m writing about two things that are intrinsically connected: a farmer and the food we eat. When you are gluten-free by necessity, you know the importance of the food you eat being truly gluten-free. The farmers growing the food we eat are critically important yet we don’t talk about them much. Please let me introduce you to one family farm who is making a difference and ask you to join me in supporting their quest to bring safe oats to the kitchen table.
Because your time is valuable and limited, here’s a quick rundown of what I’m sharing today:
- Why you should buy purity protocol oats, not sorted oats (clean versus dirty oats)
- How you can support a gluten-free farm by purchasing oats today
- Why it is important right now to support farms growing purity protocol oats
- ACTION STEP: (Update As of 9/30/22, do not buy these oats…)
Let’s Get Started…
A couple of weeks ago, Tricia from Gluten Free Watchdog shared this article about the Smith family, the folks behind GF Harvest, a family farm in Wyoming growing purity protocol oats; a family farm owned by people with Celiac disease. They were among the first in the U.S. to grow oats that were certified gluten-free. But they took their oats much further than simply getting certified, they grow oats according to purity protocol. This means there is no “sorting” to remove gluten grains from their oats because there are never any there in the first place. They keep their own pure seed to plant, they walk the fields prior to harvest to make certain there are no errant grains growing in the fields, they use a third party to also walk the fields prior to harvest, use dedicated harvesting equipment and have even built a dedicated gluten-free mill. At several steps along the way, they test their oats to make sure they are safe for those of us who must avoid gluten. It’s a textbook example of growing and milling oats that are safe for those of us with Celiac disease, non-Celiac gluten sensitivity and other medical issues that necessitate eliminating gluten. And who better to know what is truly safe for those of us who must avoid gluten than farmers who themselves have to be gluten-free? Twelve members Smith family, including Seaton and Forrest, have been diagnosed with Celiac disease. They know first hand about the challenge to eat food that is truly gluten-free.
In the article, there is mention of the struggle to compete with dirty oats, those that are mechanically and optically sorted, the oats that have made many gluten-free people sick and continue to do so. Yet many food manufacturers prefer to use dirty oats that they label gluten-free after attempts to sort them because they are cheap. Some manufacturers have said there are simply not enough purity protocol oats available to purchase. In the article above, Seaton Smith of GF Harvest says, ““We still have a majority of that product (the 2015 harvest) in storage. Because we still have oats on hand, I went personally to see every grower and told them where we’re at. I said you need to think of something else as a crop for a year because we may not be contracting acreage in 2016.”
On one hand, we hear big food companies say they can’t get enough clean oats to make their gluten-free products. On the other hand, purity protocol oat farmers report having plenty of product ready to sell.
And now you know why some consumers and many big food manufacturers have gone the route of sorted/dirty oats: cost. It’s cheap. You deserve better. If you have to be gluten-free, why would you risk eating oats with gluten in them? Why not just buy a product grown following purity protocol so you don’t risk getting sick?
How You Can Help
Buy yourself some purity protocol oats today from GF Harvest! They have put together a terrific starter package for $29.95, including shipping. The package includes 20 ounces of traditional gluten free oatmeal, 20 ounces of traditional gluten free quick oats, 20 ounces of traditional steel cut oats plus while supplies last, a tshirt or travel mug! Let’s help this family farm empty their warehouse and get delicious, safe oats on the kitchen table.
Are you an Amazon shopper? You can also buy their oats on Amazon. Organic rolled oats, Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola, Steel Cut Oats, Old Fashioned Rolled Oats… It’s right there to snag with Prime shipping.
Want to get their oats into your local grocery store? Take this product request form to your store. But in the meantime, order oats for yourself, your neighbors, your family members. These are the best oats you’ll ever taste and there’s no better day than today to support a gluten-free farm.
Why Purity Protocol Oats Are Important
Perhaps you read this announcement last week. One of the purity protocol oat companies in Canada announced they are no longer purity protocol and have switched to sorted (dirty) oats. One less place we can safely buy oats. There are only two, TWO, companies in the U.S. producing purity protocol oats. If we don’t support these farms now, who will we buy oats from? Or will we just have to not have oatmeal, overnight oats, oatmeal cookies? I won’t debate whether or not raisins belong in the cookies, but I will put up a good fight to keep soft, warm from the oven, oatmeal cookies in my kitchen. Will you join me in this please? We simply must support these farmers right now so that we will have safe oats to eat for many, many years.
On a Personal Note…
I grew up in a farming community. I couldn’t wait to get out of that podunk town and move to the city. Then I got sick and realized what an important role in my wellness farming plays. Now I have my own little micro-farm in town, with a tiny flock of chickens, including my sweet hen Genevieve who came to me by the way of an FFA project. Which brings me to my point: GF Harvest is the outgrowth of an FFA project. Forrest Smith, who was diagnosed with Celiac disease at the age of 2, started GF Harvest with a countertop oat mill in his parents’ kitchen while he was in high school. And look at what he and his family have accomplished. Isn’t that worth supporting? I believe in what they are doing and hope you do, too. Let’s go order some oats!
Because someone is sure to ask, I want to be transparent about this project: At no point did GF Harvest contact me and ask that I write about their quest to grow oats we can all enjoy. I’m the one who did the reaching out and asked them to put together a starter pack of oats. My intention was to rally the troops, other gluten-free food writers, to host a virtual cash mob of sorts. I’ve been to a few in-person cash mobs to support businesses I believe in. This is no different. I believe in what GF Harvest is doing, I believe in the necessity of purity protocol oats and I believe in supporting American farmers who work harder than most of us can imagine. Thank you for joining me in giving them a boost to keep up the good work feeding all of us!
All photos in this post courtesy of GF Harvest.