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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Man Grows Gluten-Free Oat Business from Seeds of FFA Project

      Diagnosed with celiac disease when he was just two years old, Smith spent most of his life avoiding gluten. An FFA project milling gluten-free oats turned into a booming business.

    Caption: Image: CC--sebilden

    Celiac.com 05/16/2019 - Diagnosed with celiac disease when he was just two years old, Smith spent most of his life avoiding gluten, including the stray grains of wheat and rye that can contaminate otherwise gluten-free grains, like oats. 

    Sith began sorting and rolling gluten-free oats as a high school student, armed with a loan from the FFA Parent Support Group, a tabletop mill, and a 50-pound bag of groats. 

    He began the first year by selling to his oats to fifteen family members, who also had celiac disease. The next year, Smith reached out to a group of local residents with celiac disease. The group gathered once a month for support and potluck suppers, and became regular buyers of his gluten-free oats. That year, he sold 500 pounds of gluten-free oats.

    At a show in Casper, Wyoming, during his junior year, Smith met a writer from California and a doctor from New York. As word of Smith’s oats began to spread, his company, Gluten-free Harvest, began to grow. Gluten-free Harvest currently employs more than a dozen people, and the company’s mill runs 24-hour a day, four days a week.

    At that time, his tabletop mill could only roll 1 pound of oats in 15 minutes, and keep pace with the growing business was tough. Smith found a mill that could handle the load, but the machinery needed 150-man hours of cleaning to prevent cross contamination before the oats could then be processed quickly. 

    gluten-free Harvest now ships gluten-free oats to Scotland, Australia, Mexico and Chile, and is exploring markets in Taiwan. Sales are mainly internet-based, though some brick and mortar stores in Wyoming stock gluten-free Harvest products. Amazon ranks the company 11th among purveyors of oatmeal.

    Smith currently sources conventional oats within 30 miles of Powell. He's working on nailing down the trickier supply chain for organic gluten-free oats. Look for gluten-free Harvest oats online at Glutenfreeoats.com.


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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    Diana Gitig Ph.D.
    Should Celiacs Eat Oats? Depends on the Oat
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    Gut doi:10.1136/gut.2010.225268

    Jefferson Adams
    Oats Not Safe for Some People with Celiac Disease
    Celiac.com 12/01/2014 - For years, a debate has raged among researchers and among people with celiac disease about the safety of oats.
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    This is somewhat earth-shaking, in that it lends scientific credibility to the idea that some people with celiac disease cannot safely eat oats.
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    Jefferson Adams
    Quaker Oats Launches Gluten-free Products
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    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 08/17/2016 - Cereal-maker General Mills is looking to patent method and system for manufacturing gluten-free oats.
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    Mechanical separation techniques, such as these covered by the patent application, have the potential to be highly efficient and economical. The patent does not mention more expensive optical systems.
    Oats are naturally gluten-free, but, according to the patent, "oats cultivated in North America, Europe and other parts of the world commonly are contaminated by gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale."
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    General Mills experienced problems with wheat contamination of gluten-free products last year, when they were forced to recall an estimated 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios at its Lodi, Calif., plant. The product was contaminated with gluten. However, the company has maintained that the gluten contamination was due to an employee processing error, not any defect in their grain sorting equipment covered under the patent protection.
    Stay tuned to find out if General Mills receives their patent, and if their process has a significant impact on the quality, availability and cost of gluten-free oats.

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