Day 16–Great Harvest Bread Company

Owner Paige Williams (right) and her staff LOVE to feed people good bread

I love fresh bread. I love kneading it, love the smell of yeast and baking bread in my house, and I LOVE to eat it. Back in the day, I used to make fresh bread every week, but with greater demands on my schedule, that isn’t always possible. I still love to make it, but when short on time, how does one find locally produced, sustainably produced healthy bread? One alternative for us is Great Harvest Bread Company in Cary. Although they are a chain of bakeries, their wheat comes from family owned farms in Montana that grown high protein, non GMO wheat. And the honey they use in almost all of their bread comes from a beekeeper named Heidi in Hillsborough, NC, just 15 minutes from here.

What is unique about Great Harvest is that they get the wheat from the farm and grind their own flour on site. Cary store owner Paige Williams and her staff grind the wheat and bake fresh bread, rolls, muffins and other tasty bakery items right there in the store. According to them, they use all flour within 48 hours of milling. I am fairly certain they are the only bakery in our town to grind their own wheat. Their bread has only natural ingredients (all bread has a base of 5 ingredients: whole wheat flour, honey, salt, yeast and water), no fillers, no egg, no milk and no high fructose corn syrup.

Whole wheat ready for milling at Great Harvest Bread Company Freshly ground whole wheat flour at Great Harvest Bread Co.

I sampled their high protein/low carb bread and expected it to be sort of like cardboard. But it wasn’t! It was actually moist and delicious. I’ve been eating it all week for breakfast with some homemade apple butter and it keeps me amazingly full all morning. Great Harvest offer tours, too, and ours was fascinating–especially seeing the milling room. Jennifer, our guide was hilarious and now we all know the magic of yeast is really the power of a single cell fungi burping. A lot. Something to think about over your morning toast!

Great Harvest does not offer any gluten-free products (we asked). Because the bakery itself is so small and because all grain is milled in one milling room, the opportunity for contamination of gluten-free products is too great. If you’re not in Cary, there are probably great local finds like this in your area. We are having fun learning about food production and seeking out local resources. Feel free to share your finds as well!

At $4.00 a loaf for honey whole wheat or farmhouse white (more for specialty flavored breads), these loaves are on not much more than average, but they are amazingly good and good quality. And, as we found out, when you eat whole wheat bread, you stay full longer and you don’t need as much to satisfy you. We’re trying our lunch sandwiches on honey whole wheat this week and we’ll let you know how we do with that. We also tried cinnamon chip (YUM) and the garlic cheddar, which is great with chili.

Great Harvest Bread Company is on the corner of Maynard and High House Roads in Cary and is only closed on Sundays.

Now, on to our family farmer’s market pizza challenge!

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