Grain connoisseurs find one of the world’s best selections of grains at the Bob’s Red Mill store, located just a few miles south of Portland in Milwaukie. This huge, red landmark contains everything from amaranth to teff in packaged or bulk forms. Don’t know how to cook kamut? No problem. Files of free recipes sit in the bulk section, waiting for would-be chefs. The store also houses a restaurant with lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
Bob Moore, an 80-something in a red vest, is the beloved face of the company. He and his wife Charlee got interested in whole grains back in the ‘50s, when TV dinners were more popular than whole foods. Over the years, they slowly built their empire, despite setbacks like losing an earlier store to arson. They’ve grown into a major wholesaler with products sold in all major U.S. and Canadian grocery chains and more than 80 foreign markets.
The store and its restaurant are a major draw for vegans, vegetarians, and (especially) folks who follow a gluten-free diet. The Moores got into the gluten-free market in the 1980s and have developed an extensive list of products, including pancake and muffin mixes. They make all gluten-free products in a separate building and have four dedicated gluten-free packaging lines. The whole plant also prides itself on being GMO-free and kosher.
If you’re really interested in grains, you can take the 90-minute factory tour. Just show up at 10 a.m. on weekdays at the 160,000 square foot distribution warehouse. You’ll be able to peek through windows, see products being milled, mixed and packaged, hear stories about the company’s history, touch exotic grains, see historic mill equipment, and take home free samples.