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Bread. Is there a more misunderstood food product today? Over the course of history, it has been a dietary staple. In biblical times, wheat was considered the staff of life. But somewhere along the way bread got taken for granted. How did this happen and what can be done about it?

say_no_to_bread_factoriesAs populations grew, life became more hectic and foods became more processed to keep up with population growth and the need for convenience. Bread became just another mass produced food. The smell of bread baking at home went the way of canning our own foods. The idea of scratch baking bread for the family got replaced by the need to shuttle kids all over the place to soccer or dance or tutoring. And, grind your own flour? Forget it.

Bread went from the way it ought to be (scratch baked from stone ground flour and made by hand with love) to Wonder Bread. It all started with the growth of commercial flour mills.

When flour is mass milled, it can become highly processed. For white flour, most of the nutrients are stripped out in the interest of economy. For commercial whole wheat flour, all components are restored, but not in the same proportions that Mother Nature created. They are removed during the milling process and then restored but not always in their most natural form. Further processing, such as heat treatment, can creep in here.

Is that the way bread ought to be made? No. It is just another highly processed food added to our diet; short on flavor and short on nutrition. That is how bread became devalued. But here at Great Harvest, we always bake… Bread. The way it ought to be. We start with only the finest wheat from the Golden Triangle in Montana. Every kernel of wheat that makes it into Great Harvest has undergone a rigorous test process to ensure that only the best makes it into our stores. And we only buy from family owned farms.

great_harvest_the_way_bread_ought_to_beOnce we buy the wheat we ship it in raw wheat berry form to each of our stores where it is fresh milled daily on site and then baked into delicious, healthy breads for you. When we mill our wheat it never undergoes further processing. There is no separation in the interest of economy. It goes into the mill in raw form and goes straight to the mixing bowl as raw, untouched whole grain flour. Everything is made by hand and fresh baked just for you. See the resemblance to traditional bread making, the way your grandmother used to do it? That isn’t coincidental.

The real boom in processed foods took root in the 1970’s. That is the same time Great Harvest started with a single bakery in Great Falls, Montana, making bread freshly by hand….. the way it ought to be. From our very humble beginnings our founders developed a culture of only doing things the old fashioned way. Everything made by hand daily, using only fresh milled wheat that is never processed. With wheat grown right here in our backyard, on family owned farms. Bread. The way it ought to be.

The slow food movement is taking food back to its roots and away from highly processed foods. We totally support that and it is how I live my life. But at Great Harvest, there is no need to “return” to days gone by. We never left the world of natural, scratch baked, hand formed food. It is the only way we know how to bake and it is the only way we have ever done things at Great Harvest. From our very first loaf of bread, for as long as we bake, we’re sticking to our old fashioned, high-quality approach. Try some, and see if it doesn’t restore your faith in the value of bread.

Bread. The way it ought to be. That is Great Harvest.

Find out where you can get a properly made loaf of handmade bread here:

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I am Mike Ferretti, the Chairman and CEO of Great Harvest. But, I am also a dad who grew up in a world with old fashioned business ethics. Before Great Harvest, I thought those days and companies were gone. Luckily, I now get to work with a group with a strong moral compass that genuinely lives "Give generously to others" and "Run fast to serve customers." And we do it with more than just lip service in a way that allows us to set an example for others. I am proud that my kids are proud of what I do for a living.