Nestled among endless pine trees along U.S. Highway 82 in rural Bullock County, there’s a company changing lifestyles and eating habits for those seeking an alternative to ordinary wheat flour.
To Your Health Sprouted Flour (TYHSF) began in Peggy Sutton’s home kitchen 11 years ago before expanding to the factory that produced 1.5 million pounds of sprouted flour last year. Initially, Sutton soaked the grain in Mason jars, dried it, then ground it into flour. With that, Peggy, 58, made her first loaf of sprouted flour bread, and the idea of TYHSF was born. Her growing customer list includes top brands like Kashi®, a national producer of granola bars, crackers, cookies and cereals.
“Bullock County is where my heart is,” said Sutton, a Bullock County native, who formerly worked for the Columbus, Georgia Chamber of Commerce before returning home in 1988. “The ideal place for this business would be in the middle of the Grain Belt for easy accessibility to the raw grains we use, but being here allowed us to create much-needed jobs.”
Growing up on her family’s farm taught Sutton to appreciate quality food and fostered a deep connection to community, she said. As a child, her family raised everything they ate. That, along with a passion for quality food, led Sutton to research health foods. She said she hit the jackpot with sprouted flour, which can be used in breads, grits, crackers, brown rice, lentils and cereals.
“What’s most important to me about our product is that it offers a healthy alternative to traditional processed wheat flour,” said Sutton, whose husband Jeff is TYHSF’s chief executive officer. “Sprouted flour has more nutrients than dormant wheat seeds used to make processed flour.”
At TYHSF, which is located in Fitzpatrick, wheat seeds are soaked in water and placed in a specialized sprouting machine. A giant rolling drum aerates the damp seeds, sprouting new growth. The once-dormant seeds germinate in the sprouting process. Sutton said vitamins, minerals and fiber of intact whole grains are released in sprouted flour, creating a healthy product the body easily absorbs.
Alabama farmers could benefit from Sutton’s plans for growth. She said she’d like to see a cooperative of Alabama organic wheat farmers who could supply TYHSF with locally grown grains. TYHSF currently buys grain from Washington, Oregon and Canada.
“If I can say to a local or regional farmer, ‘I’ll contract with you to buy everything you grow before you even plant,’ they wouldn’t have to worry about who they’re going to sell to,” Sutton said.
As a pioneer in the sprouted flour industry, Sutton said demand for her product grew as interest in health and food production escalated.
Kashi Senior Brand Manager David Uzzell said Kashi discovered Sutton’s company in 2014 as a supplier for its Organic Promise Sprouted Grains Cereal.
“For us, Ms. Peggy is exactly the type of company we want to keep,” Uzzell said.
TYHSF significantly impacted Bullock County, where creating one job has the same impact as 27 jobs in larger cities like Montgomery, Sutton said. TYHSF has 35 employees and is open five days a week.
TYHSF products are found in mainstream stores including Publix, Target and Wal-Mart and some local markets. A company expansion is scheduled for completion by 2017 and will create 15-20 new jobs for Bullock County.
Bullock County Development Authority’s Dr. Julian Cope called TYHSF an asset to the rural county.
“We’re thankful to have been a part of TYHSF’s growth since its beginning in 2006,” Cope said. “TYHSF will be an attraction for more businesses to come here.”
For more information on TYHSF, visit healthyflour.com. The site includes available products and recipes.