There are many reasons to avoid gluten in your diet: You may have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance (also known as celiac disease) or you may have made a deliberate choice to eat less foodstuffs based on grains which contain gluten.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in several types of grains. When we look at the origin of the word ‘gluten’, it is no coincidene that it sounds a bit like ‘glue’. The latin word ‘gluten’ means exactly that! Grains containing gluten has one very usefull attribute: it ‘glues’ together when ground, mixed with water and heated. During baking or cooking, the food is held together by the gluten protein, giving it an elasticity which results in a chewy, yet light consistency. This is very useful when baking bread or cookies.
Over many years, the agricultural industry focussed on breeding grain varieties with a very high level of gluten. The processed grain flours, and in particular wheat flour, is a an extremly adapted and highly processed product turbo-grain which has obvious benefits for further processing on an industrial scale.
In western countries, people consume gluten (as part of their normal diet) on average in at least two of the three meals daily! Just consider how often we eat breakfast cereals, bread in all its varieties, pasta or convenience foods like pizza or other bread-based fast-food. In addition to this many sweet products like cake or biscuits, desserts and other sweets contain gluten or derivites like wheat starch.
Which cereals contain gluten?
Gluten is present in high concentrations in wheat and all its varieties. Spelt is a fairly well-known variety of wheat, but do you know some older wheat varieties like kamut, farro, durum, bulgur and semolina? Other grauins like rye and barley contain gluten in a lower concentration.
There are several cereals which are gluten-free: millet, corn and rice, as well as the so-called pseudo-cereals such as quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, to name just a few.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, is a chronic and serious genetic autoimmune disorder. For a person with this disease, eating foods containing gluten results in symptons including bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Even worse ist the resulting damage to the small intestine. The small intestine’s inner lining, which plays an important part in absorbing nutrients, is severly disrupted in its function and can become inflamed. As a result, the non-absorbtion of nutrients lead to chronic diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, vitamin and mineral salt deficiency, anemia, fatigue, loss of performance, headache, loss of appetite and vomiting. Children’s growth can be negatively affected.
Why do we bake oatmeal cookies?
It may at first come as a suprise that we, as a gluten-free company, bake oatmeal cookies. We use a special locally grown oat which we carefully select and process. Our oat is gluten-free certified and controlled every single step of the way. No contamination with wheat or other cereals containing gluten is possible from plant to flour. In addition to this, our complete bakery is certified gluten-free!
Oat is full nutrients (significant higher than other cereals), full of fiber and yet easy to digest. According to health experts it has proven health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, blood sugar levels, cancer risk, hypertension and support weight loss. For more specific information on health benefits we always recommend to consult your physician or a nutritionist/dietist.
Each and every product we create has been vegan since day one and without exception. Insisting on that and actually achieving this in a production enviroment has been quite challengng in 2008.
We have spent many years explaining to people what vegan really means. This has dramatically changed in the past three years, and lots of information is available on veganism and its benefits. Not only are animals benefitted, but also our climate, our environment and last, but not least of all, our own personal health and wellbeing. We embrace that these benefits are now quite clear to most people between 15 and 50 in Europe.
For us, being vegan is actually quite simple and logical. Our first principle is avoiding all 14 EU recognized food allergens in each of our organic products. This approach already takes care of milk and eggs. In addition to this we never use honey or any animal-derived ingredients.
It is quite astounding how simple vegan baking can be. Most people are just so used to applying grandmother’s favourite recipes with butter, cream, eggs and honey. We manage to avoid using any of these while achieving the best ever tasting biscuits.
Go ahead and try some of our biscuits: we have four great tasting varieties!
Our Rice Mice Cookies are baked in a bakery which uses only gluten-free grains. We base our products on organic rice and oat. Not only is our factory completely free from gluten, but also from milk and lactose, peanuts and tree-nuts, soy, sesame and lupin. This is unique in Europe.
Food Allergies – awareness increasing
There is an increased awareness of the effects of food allergens. In some people the effects may cause mild to more serious discomfort, but for other people the effects can even be life-threatening. Food allergens typically affect skin, digestive track or respiratory system. Symptoms can be a rash, eczema, diarrhoea, cramps or other discomforts like headache. Respiratory problems can include swelling of the tongue and throat, or in bad cases, asphyxiation. The effects can appear almost immediately or take up to three days to show, making it very difficult to track the culprit food substance.
Food allergies are also not always recognized or diagnosed correctly, but even when diagnosed, life with food allergies can be very complicated. The prevalence of food allergies and the trend of its increase amongst the general population, especially children, has fortunately not gone unnoticed by the authorities. It has led to improved legislation in the EU and strict requirements for the labelling of products produced and sold in Europe.
Here is the list of 14 food allergens:
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts and Queensland nuts)
- Cereals containing gluten (including wheat, rye, barley and oats)
- Sesame seeds
- Crustaceans (including prawns, crab and lobster)
- Molluscs (including squid, mussels, cockles, whelks and snails)
- Sulphur dioxide/sulphites (level max 10mg/kg)
We know from own experience how extremely important it is, to avoid allergens in foods. All our products are produced with special recipes containing none of the allergens recognized in the EU.
Our experience has also shown that it is best to keep the recipes as simple and pure as possible. We use as few as possible ingredients and we require these to be natural, in fact almost all ingredients we use are certified organic. You will not find highly-processed or unnatural ingredients like taste enhancers, alternative sweeteners or colourants in our products.
Our production sites
In some instances we cannot avoid having some allergens on site where our products are manufactured. Unfortunately, a 100% allergen-free production environment and complete food chain is not feasible. However, in our opinion some allergens can cause more problems than others. Peanuts are the leading cause of severe food allergic reactions, followed by shellfish, fish, tree nuts and eggs. (Source: Food Allergy Network). Since peanuts can cause a severe allergic reaction from even the smallest quantities, we have no peanuts on any of our production sites. For coeliac sufferers we guarantee complete gluten-free production environments.
Pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetic engineering or land exploitation … not exactly our cup of tea!
…The first step towards creating high quality products is the use of high quality raw materials. From personal experience we’ve built our philosophy for all our products. We firmly believe in using organic ingredients.
Our raw material suppliers share the same passion for quality and we’ve been working with reliable partners for many years. Our cooperati0n is supported by comprehensive organic inspection and certification (DE-ÖKO-013) as well as product quality controls such as frequent monitoring of quality by international laboratories.
What does organic actually mean?
Organic foods are products originating from organic agriculture. In contrast to so-called ‘conventional’ agriculture the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and sewage sludge “fertilizers” are prohibited! Genetically modified organisms are also strictly prohibited. The BASIC principle of organic agriculture is to produce food in HARMONY with nature. The way in which we use our natural resouces – soil, water and air – should be sensibly and responsibly.
Organic is better for the environment!
Organic agriculture supports (as opposed to exploits) nature. By applying sensible and traditional organic agricultural principles we can increase the fertiliness of soil by working in agricultural cycles. Mono-culture empties the soil completely of the minerals which plants need to grow, and farmes end up in a vicious cycle of adding chemical concoctions to force any growth at all. Most important is the avoidance of pesticides. While pesticides might ‘save’ a crop under certain circumstances, the impact on the environment, specifically insects, birds and other animals, is devastating in the long run. Water p0lution through sewage sludges is particularly disastrous to the environment. Applying organic agricultural principles has a non-destructive impact on the surrounding non-agriucultural land areas, insects and other animals, biodiversity in general is maintained.
Organic is best for health!
Respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, all this and more can be the result of consumption of foods affected by sewage sludge fertilizer, pesticides and other abusive, but unfortunately fairly common, agricultaral practices. Organic food is more strictly controlled than non-organic food, and the food in itself has so many more good qualities including higher andioxidants, which helps to prevent cancer and heart disease. Several studies have proven the health benefits of organic produce. Even though all our products are vegan, we cannot stress enough how beneficial organic farming is to animal wellfare, a fact which should play a role in your everyday shopping choices.
Trust, but verify…
It is important that consumers can clearly and without a doubt recognize which foods are organic. The organic logo, such as the EU green leaf (or in combination with the soil association logo), may only be used if the actual food has been certified as organic. Organic certification is a strict and repeating process for any business directly involved in organic food production.
As a german-based company we use the EU green leaf logo on all our products which we sell throughout Europe. Our certifier is QC&I with the Id number DE-ÖKO-013. We have both announced and unannounced regular inspections where the detail of all our dealing in organic food is controlled and monitored on a very detailed lever. All our partners need to have an organic certification adn all new products have to go through a stricht procedure before the use of the organic logo is allowed
So why do we choose organic, without exception?
Because we feel strongly about its benefits for the environment, for your and our health and for the future of next generations in a sustainable