Bread Lover’s wheat allergy leads to a second career in heritage grains

by Darold Glanville And the Martha Glanville, Next Avenue

Before we moved to rural North Branch (Minnesota) in 2006, Darold owned a small biotech business and Martha was a special education teacher in Minneapolis. We have a passion for cooking, baking and sharing meals with others. We particularly enjoy bread, pizza and pasta. As a retirement project, we milled our own flour with tabletop mills in a room attached to our garage. We ate some and sold the rest at the local farmers market.

Darold started making more bread and developing products to sell, so we were eating more wheat. He became increasingly achy and lethargic. Over the course of a few months, he developed several health problems and the doctors could not figure out the cause. After a large dinner of pasta, symptoms peaked. Like many others, Darold began to wonder if gluten was the cause—modern wheat gluten, that is.

Together, we became gluten-free that day. Within just two days, Darold felt better, and within two months he was symptom-free. But we missed eating bread, pasta, and pizza, and so we tried to figure out how to get our favorite foods back.

Heritage varieties beat hybrids, calm down

This is where our heritage journey to wheat began. The journey that led us to discover these special varieties of wheat that do not cause any problems. We’ve tried spelling, emmer, and einkorn. We thought they baked a bit heavy, so we tried Turkey Red, Red Fife, White Sonora and Pima Club. This heritage grain does contain some gluten but we find it easier to digest than the hybrid wheat varieties you find in most commercial flours now.

The joy that we felt being able to eat our favorite foods again was immeasurable. Sunrise Flour Mill grew out of our desire to help thousands of gluten-affected home bakers find their way back to their favorite foods. If the Inherited Wheat could help even one person the way it helped Darold, it would be worth it.

We started selling our Heritage flour at our local farmers market in 2011 or 2012, and slowly but surely people started realizing that this flour was special. They could eat foods made from inherited wheat without the inconveniences they have with modern wheat.

By 2017, we were in our 70s and work was more than we could handle. We had to decide whether to stop or grow old. We chose the latter.

Expansion of pancakes and pasta

We hired a consultant who spent two months working at the plant and helped us get an MDA grant and bank loans. This enabled us to purchase a 5,200 square foot building and hire a General Manager with a background in e-commerce.

We slowly added equipment and staff, which allowed us to grow to the size we are today. We also added production lines, starting with pancake batter, then pasta; We’re getting ready to launch some baked good. We added baking accessories like knives and beaters two years ago when the Covid-19 era of baking came into being.

We still go to Mill City Farmers Market; One market is all we feel we can do more. We have a presence in many shops, specialty stores and restaurants, but our primary sales channel is e-commerce.

If you find that you have a passion for something, don’t let age stand in your way. Sunrise Flour Mill is so much more than anything we thought it would be, and wouldn’t want it any other way.

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