Ninety-five percent of Americans don’t get enough whole grain in their diets. Front of package (FOP) labels touting “better for you” foods disguise the fact that 93% of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are high in sugar and 60% are low in fiber. A recent survey by General Mills showed that 81% of respondents associate whole grain with breakfast – and ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. AND the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) – made up of 17 companies including General Mills and Kellogg Company – allows “healthy options” like cookies, desserts, sugary cereals, pizza, and even Burger King hamburgers.
It’s number like these that have Bob and Charlee Moore, founders of Bob’s Red Mill, seeing red. “Making healthy, whole grain food is what I believe in, and what I have focused on for 30-plus years,” said Bob, the company’s CEO. “Far too many kids are overweight – and so are their parents – it’s a serious problem.”
Realistic and yet concerned, Bob is very aware that the way big companies make money is not focused on the best of health, the best of morals, and the best world to live in. “So we have to sit down like intelligent people and analyze the parts that need to change.”
Putting his money – and his company – on the line, Moore has held his ground. Bob’s Red Mill makes no ready-to-eat breakfast cereal; the company only offers hot cereal. “I will go on making hot cereal that people need to get up 10 minutes early to cook,” said Bob. “The company has been growing 20% or more every year for the last 10 years. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to do that. If you do, I promise you’ll feel better during the day and you’ll be healthier!”
The recent establishment of an Employees Stock Ownership Plan, made it possible for the Moores to liquidate part of their ownership in the company and donate $5 million to a new research center at Oregon State University that will focus on whole grain foods nutrition. The center will be called the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition, and Preventative Health.
Most of the gift – $4 million – will be used to provide endowments for the center’s director and an additional professor. Because this portion of the donation qualifies for funds from a matching program, the money earmarked for recruitment and support of these faculty and their research focused on healthy eating is actually $4,675,000.
$200,000 will be used for research and to support graduate students. Part goes for the study of the health and nutritional benefits of whole grain foods and part to focus on public health obesity prevention strategies.
$300,000 will be used to renovate a food research lab and the remaining $500,000 will be used for ongoing research, teaching, and outreach.
“The money was supposed to go to the University when I died, but when we sold the company to the ESOP, it was possible to give the money to them while I can still participate. Even though we’re in our 80s, we’ll be able to visit OSU and watch their progress. I think it’s a wonderful way to make the world a better place.”
Take a virtual tour of Bob’s Red Mill here: