It all began with our quest for a good loaf of bread. In retirement, Darrold, who had been doing most of the cooking for many years, decided he wanted to branch out into bread baking. He was trying to recreate the wonderful European breads he and Marty had eaten on their travels. We wanted whole wheat and the first 6 months saw most of the bread go in the trash as hard, tasteless and pretty much inedible. Looking into the history of modern flour milling and bread making, the more convinced we became that it was time to return to the basics.
Descriptions of whole wheat flours became blurred in words and advertising jargon. It wasn’t possible to know what percentage was whole grain, what the protein content was, when it was milled, what chemicals were used in the growing and milling process. Darrold started milling flour fresh and that made a big difference in his bread. No longer could the loaves be dual purposed as doorstops, but they had a much lighter texture and were getting a better oven bounce. Thus, Sunrise Flour Mill was born. We wanted to source our own grain so we know exactly the where the wheat comes from, and the process used for milling. We started selling at farmers markets. Concurrently Darrold, once very active, was becoming increasingly achy and more lethargic with new symptoms coming every few months including severe sinus problems, headaches, and myriad intestinal issues including gastric reflux so bad that he slept nearly sitting up for almost a year. He saw a number of doctors who could find nothing wrong and had him take a variety of prescription and over the counter medications with little relief. By the time his symptoms were so debilitating that he was spending most of his time either in bed or on the couch, he asked Marty to make an appointment for him at the Mayo Clinic. During two day-long visits there he saw a variety of specialists and, again, nothing could be determined through many images and uncomfortable tests. The recommendation was to continue using over the counter medications, one for each of his symptoms. Not long after that we met friends at an Italian restaurant known for gigantic portions. The next day he felt worse than ever and he starting thinking about all the people who would pass by our stall at the market saying they couldn’t talk to us because they had gluten intolerance.
As many people still think, we thought it was one in the long list of food fads that have been sweeping the country in the name of healthy eating and weight loss in the past few years. We went gluten free that day and within two days he felt better and within two months he was back to his old self. Marty had no expectations about eating heritage wheat since she didn’t have symptoms, she thought, of gluten intolerance. After about 3 months she realized she no longer had the joint pain she’d been experiencing for the past several years. Since we’d gotten used to homemade bread, gluten free bread lacked both the taste and texture we’d come to love. As we ate more gluten free products we noted the long list of ingredients, added sugar and other additives that were on the list of things we’d been reading weren’t so healthy.
Darrold delved more into the issue and discovered that modern wheat is very different from heritage wheat, the kind we ate growing up before the “Green Revolution” of the 1950’s which developed high yielding wheat, modern wheat. We tried several varieties and then we found two varieties, Turkey Red and Red Fife. They both baked and tasted like nothing we had been eating and Darrold could eat products made from them without getting sick. We changed all of our wheat over to the heritage varieties and almost daily hear from customers who are discovering they can eat heritage wheat but not modern wheat.
Our commitment to our customers is simply to provide the best and healthiest heritage organic grains we can find, and to provide education and on-going support for people who want to get back to home baking whether it be bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, pasta, or pizza.