Baking from scratch was the norm for our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. They were concerned about making great-tasting food to nourish their family’s bodies. So is Great Harvest. Through the generations, our world has turned to cheaper, easier, less time-consuming methods of food preparation, losing the benefits of handmade, healthy baking and cooking. Not Great Harvest. We still believe in our elaborately long, traditional methods of bread making. We don’t rush it. Time allows our bread to develop its exquisite flavor and texture naturally, without the use of additives.
Great Harvest was born out of a single (and amazingly delicious) whole grain bread recipe, developed by our founders to feed their friends and family. Over time, we’ve branched out to develop an array of products with a nod to our roots. Our bakery cafes are locally famous for their great-tasting, slow-made-from-scratch food that goes far beyond our five-ingredient Honey Whole Wheat.
Today, you may get hooked on our addictively good sandwiches, grain bowls, or cookies before you even purchase your first loaf of Great Harvest whole wheat bread! Still, we approach the creation of all our food with the same basic principles baked into our first loaf of bread.
Over the years, we have adapted our great-tasting products to many different palates, trends, and dietary needs, but since the inception of our bread making business, one thing is invariable — Great Harvest bread is truly one of a kind. It’s simple. Handmade. Wholesome. And tasty. Bread. The way it ought to be!TM
We believe that a life of eating real food is a journey, not a destination. We want you to know where we’re at along the path.
We are proud of the progress we’ve already made in these areas:
We wish we could give you a virtual taste of our products through our website. Taste is the #1 criteria for everything we create. Please stop into your local Great Harvest and enjoy a free slice from the breadboard to taste for yourself.
Wheat is the foundational whole grain in our products, and we are proud to be millers and bakers of whole wheat bread and goodies. We also bake products using oats, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, and rye.
Great Harvest has been baking bread the way it ought to be from the beginning, and we still believe in using pure, simple ingredients. Our signature bread – Honey Whole Wheat – is made from just five high-quality ingredients: fresh-ground whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and honey. That’s it.
100% Whole Wheat Flour, Freshly Ground Daily
We grind our premium whole wheat kernels into fresh, 100% whole wheat flour every day, at each of our bakeries and bakery cafes. We mill and use fresh whole grain wheat flour not only for flavor, but also because it allows less time for nutrients to deteriorate. Our whole grain flour maintains all three components present in the intact whole grain (germ, bran, and endosperm). We put whole grain wheat kernels into our mill and that is exactly what comes out. In contrast, during commercial milling each kernel has its parts separated then recombined in the same relative proportions. Commercial flour also often has its bran and germ toasted to prolong shelf life. That is not something we do to our fresh milled flour.
High Fiber Content
Keeping the grain whole maintains all of the parts of the kernel, including the fibrous bran. Per the USDA, most healthy women and men should aim to consume 25-38 grams of fiber per day, respectively. Our whole grain breads, including Honey Whole Wheat, Dakota, and Nine Grain, pack an impressive 4 grams of fiber per 2 oz. slice. High Five Fiber bread contains additional fiber from oat bran, wheat bran, as well as a variety of seeds, and can load you up with 5 grams in a single 2 oz. slice.
Supporting Family-Owned Farms
We devote lots of time and attention to finding the best wheat for our flour. Over the years, we’ve developed strong relationships with the farmers who grow our wheat in the Golden Triangle area of Montana. We find this region yields the perfect combination of soil, altitude and moisture for our wheat.
Real Food Made from Scratch, by Hand
Our bread making process is long. Many commercially made breads use shortcuts, like additives, to speed up the process so that large amounts of bread can be produced quickly. We make our breads using traditional methods, allowing exquisite flavors and textures to develop naturally over time without having to use additives. We start early, so we can sell our fresh bread hot out of the oven.
We know freshness and taste go hand in hand, so we sell only fresh breads and goodies. We try to accurately predict what to make, but when we guess wrong, local bakery owners donate the leftover bread to food banks and local organizations that can put these products to good use. If we can’t sell it fresh, we might as well give it away fresh!
We know our menu options can be overwhelming at times. Each of our breads, cookies, scones, goodies, salads, soups, sandwiches and new made-to-order items delivers a unique spin on delicious. While each local bakery cafe owner sets their own product line and menu, in any Great Harvest you are sure to find wonderful options, whether in great-tasting everyday breads, a cookie for your sweet tooth, or special occasion products.
What we are working to improve on:
GMO-Free Ingredient Sourcing
According to the USDA, there are no genetically engineered wheat varieties commercially available in the U.S., so we are confident our wheat flour is not genetically modified. However, there are many other ingredients we use beyond whole wheat and white flour, and some of these do contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Our goal is to provide suitable alternative ingredients for local Great Harvest owners to purchase if they choose. We realize this will take time, but we are committed to pursuing this endeavor (see our update on non-GMO ingredients here). We are also actively working with our state’s Department of Agriculture to prevent genetically engineered wheat from entering Montana.
Locally Owned Businesses Using Local Products
All of our wheat comes from Montana’s Golden Triangle (a region famous for its favorable wheat-growing conditions) and is locally milled into fresh flour at each location. Some of our locally owned bakeries and cafes work together with local ingredient suppliers to offer seasonal specialty products. For example, bakers use beer from local breweries to make Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread and incorporate locally grown fruit into various scones, breads, and muffins.
Chemicals Used by Wheat Farmers
Most of the wheat used in Great Harvest’s products is not organic, though some of our bakeries and cafes do offer organic bread products. We are committed to making bread that is of phenomenal quality and is healthy, without sacrificing one for the other. At present, we have found our best solution is non-organic wheat grown with minimal chemical usage. Only very rarely is there a need for our farmers to use a chemical treatment after the wheat kernel has formed on the plant, but they do apply a post-emergent herbicide and pesticide to the plant when it's in the leaf stage. This is to ensure that our wheat gets the right nutrients and has a consistent level of quality. Since the 2014 harvest, we have been quality testing all of our wheat for chemicals. We use the results to make improvements in cooperation with all the parties in our supply chain.
Artificial Trans Fats
These fats are produced through a process called partial hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are commonly found in margarine, shortening and baked foods with a long shelf life. Note trans fats can also be naturally occurring in dairy products and some meats. The FDA has determined artificial Trans Fats are not "generally recognized as safe" for human consumption and will be eliminated from the food supply by June 18, 2018. We have already removed all PHOs from our recommended recipes. To do this, we found new sources for ingredients such as cinnamon chips, chocolate chips, and caramel chips. We strongly discourage the use of trans fat-containing ingredients; however, each local bakery cafe owner has the freedom to choose their own recipes and purchase their own ingredients. You can get more information about this from your local Great Harvest.
New Product Development
We know that you, our customers, trust us to have great tasting food. We are honored you ask us for specialized products. Trying new products in our test kitchen is always fun. Stay tuned to our blog and your local healthy bakery or bakery cafe for these exciting new products!