This following guest post was written by Annsley Klehr, NFCA volunteer, blogger, and owner of Gluten Freedoms, LLC
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I found myself craving oatmeal. I mean, the cravings were so bad that I started dreaming about it, too! I had been to afraid to try oats once I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I didn’t trust that they could really be safe. So, I did a good deal of research and came across the GF Harvest Company. Honestly, it sounded too good to be true. Of course I called them up to legitimize my cravings. Not only did they kindly sent me samples of Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, and Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola, but they also provided lots of useful information. (They also carry gluten-free groats and gluten-free oat flour.) I was overjoyed to have satisfied my craving, with the knowledge that these were gluten-free right down to the ground.
It turned out that Seaton Smith, the owner of this small, Celiac disease-family run company, was tickled pink to talk and tell me all about their oats while assuaging my fears and anxieties. And, in 2013 they were even awarded the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics. I learned so much about the processing of their oats and the scrutiny his oats go through to make sure there is no cross-contamination. Here are a few things I learned and why I am now GF Harvest’s biggest fan:
1. It’s Owned & Operated by a Celiac Family: The GF Harvest company began when Forrest Smith (son of Seaton Smith) became determined as a teenager to develop uncontaminated gluten-free oats for him and the three generations of his family diagnosed with celiac disease. His desire led to an FFA entrepreneur project, which became Gluten Free Oats, LLC.
2. The Oats Go Through Intense and Thorough Screening for Cross-Contamination: Seaton Smith, the owner and president, makes sure that there is mandatory family activity in the growing fields. Since the fields rotate crops, all fields must lie fallow of any gluten grains for 2 full years before use. Once the oats are grown, the GF Harvest inspection team walks every field, in addition to a QC (quality control) inspection by the University of Wyoming Seed Certification Service. By doing an inspection of the whole field, GF Harvest tests a much larger percentage of their oats. After the field passes inspection by the University, the product can only then come into contact with grain bins, augers, and combines that are certified by the University to prevent cross-contamination as well. When it is time to harvest the grain, the farm trucks harvest the raw oats, and each truck batch is tested before it is allowed to unload at the mill. (Farm trucks are smaller than industrial size trucks, carrying only 16-25 thousand pounds of grain, which means a larger percentage of their grain is tested compared to larger operations). Once the oats are rolled, they are tested again in GF Harvest’s own lab in addition to a preset regiment of 3rd party inspections by the University of Nebraska and GFCO (which is the GF certifying organization under the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)).
3. A Quick Cook: Their old-fashioned rolled oats are super fast to cook over the stovetop, which amounts to about 5 minutes.
The Taste Test
Did I keep you in suspense long enough? So, not only are their oats safe to eat, they are incredibly delicious. I have been cooking with them in every way that I can. My favorite is their Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, but you can’t go wrong with the Steel Cut ones, too. The steel cut oats take quite a bit longer to cook, but equally delicious. Regardless of which ones you try, the texture is rich and creamy, and slightly sweet by itself. The flakes melted in my mouth, but held their texture and didn’t turn to mush. I could taste the quality in every bite! Every morning my daughter begs for oatmeal, and often it’s gone before I can get my own spoon in it. Needless to say, it’s a big hit around here.
The Oatmeal Cookie Crisp Granola was a perfect addition to my yogurt. It’s sweet and slightly crunchy with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla.
To date I have made:
I even gave some oats to my gluten eating friend who made me gluten-free oatmeal cookies and without prompting told me they were the best she’d ever had!
In my book, GF Harvest gets a 5 star review. If you are interested in ordering from them, check out their website: www.glutenfreeoats.com
Their oats are slightly higher priced than other companies’, but well worth the difference.
A special thank you goes out to Seaton Smith and his GF Harvest team for providing me lots of information about oats and for the samples they sent me!
Looking for more information on celiac disease and gluten-free oats? Download NFCA’s Getting Started Guide and head to page 15 for more details.