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The Birkett Mill Buckwheat Factory

January 16, 2008

We are proud to announce that our whole grain of the Winter season is buckwheat. Monday evening, Emma and I took off on our long journey to the town of Penn Yan in upstate New York in order to visit the Birkett Mills, producers of Buckwheat and Wheat products. Tuesday morning we filmed an interview with Cliff Orr, V.P. of Marketing and Sales for the Birkett Mills, followed by a tour of the Mills by Plant Supervisor Andrew Schuck. He told us lots of interesting information about the history and nutrition of buckwheat, which will soon be in a video clip for all of you viewers out there.

The Birkett Mills is largest manufacturer of buckwheat products in the world, and is the oldest continuously operated mill in the United States. Buckwheat originated in Tibet, and made its way to Europe via Russia, where it has become a staple food in Jewish culture. It was the Dutch who brought buckwheat over to the United States and planted it in Pennsylvania (Penn Yan = Pennsylvania Yankees). Buckwheat counts in our list of Whole Grains, although it is not a grain at all, but actually a fruit (related to rhubarb). Buckwheat made Dr. Perricone's list of Superfoods for Oprah.com because of its nutritious profile.

Why is buckwheat so healthy? Since buckwheat is actually a plant, it is gluten free, and therefore safe for people with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Buckwheat also has a higher amino acid profile than wheat, corn, rice, and oats, making it more powerful when combined with legumes to make a complete protein. Buckwheat stays longer in the digestive tract, which makes you feel full longer, providing you with sustained energy and cushioning against sugar cravings. Recent studies have shown that a carbohydrate found in buckwheat actually lowers blood glucose levels. Cliff was telling us that his uncle, who has adult onset diabetes, started eating 3-4 oz. of buckwheat a day and now does not take his insulin medication. Of course, we all need to do our homework before making any drastic changes, but it shows how nutrition can help shape up many medical problems that our nation is facing today, namely diabetes. Buckwheat is also effective in lowering (bad) cholesterol levels, therefore it is heart healthy as well.

I also wanted to add that Emma is from Pennsylvania and her last name is Burkett, and the Pennsylvanians are the ones that took the buckwheat up north and started the Birkett Mills. Does anyone else think that Emma might have a stronger connection to buckwheat than previously thought?

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