Planting Seeds: How A Cute Boy Inspired…

Planting Seeds
How A Cute Boy & Some (Un)fortunate Gas Led To Gluten-Free Baking

The Gas

Early on in our pre-marriage dating years, it just didn’t make sense:  How could one person have THAT MUCH GAS?  Seriously!  The guy was amazing, fun to be around, intelligent, good looking and funny – alas a potentially good marriage candidate.  But my goodness, dear man!  The gas…  Something had to be done.  Suggestions were made:  Considered going to a doctor?  Nope. Not going. He was a guy – and that’s just what guys do – they fart. A lot. Well… really?


When the headaches started coming, things looked ominous.  The MRIs, EEGs, the CAT scans – all showed nothing. Nada. Zilch.  Since the man’s father had passed away decades earlier from brain cancer, the headaches were taken far more seriously than the gas – and traditional/allopathic tests just had to be done. When nothing was found (thank goodness) it was again suggested that an alternative doc be consulted.  “You think some quack is going to find something that the real doctors at Northwestern couldn’t?”  Well, yes, actually. And no, this one’s not a quack. (She was an M.D. who received additional “alternative” training in Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and homeopathy. Perfect!)

The Verdict

And so it happened that within 15 minutes after walking in the door of the “alternative” MD, the man was told to stop eating wheat, gluten and sweet potatoes.  Yes, he complied. Two days later the gas stopped and the headaches disappeared. Amazing? Yes. That it took 5 YEARS & thousands of dollars in tests to get to this point, well… Honestly, he feels lucky it’s merely a food-intolerance and/or Celiac Disease. (Never did get properly tested, but gluten = uncomfortable bowel issues + headaches.) Many people suffer for decades – some even a lifetime, before a food-intolerance or allergy is even diagnosed.

New Beginnings

When you stop to think about it, this is by far the best health-related news you can hear: You must stop eating x, and you will feel better. Yes, it does get easier! Yes, the kitchen, health markets and farmer’s markets become new, or even more familiar, stomping grounds.  Sometimes this news inspires a complete life change, planting seeds for a new, healthier baking company – Be Free Bakers.

Every single day I am grateful for this experience.  Nature is truly amazing, overwhelming us with beautiful, organic, natural, healthy and allergen friendly food choices. It is up to us all to fearlessly play in our kitchens and enjoy the experience.  My sincere hope is that you are grateful too as we pass along and share our experiences and baked goods with you.

Be Free: Love What You Eat!

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Packaging 101 – BFB Style

What an adventure!

Creating a simple cookie box can be fun – and take hundreds of hours – if you do it just right. Have we done it just right? Well, that remains to be seen honestly. We have, however, accomplished the main goal – and that is to have our cake and eat it too. The entire package can be composted AND/OR recycled and is made entirely in the U.S. of 100% recycled materials – take THAT, naysayers! No trash, no landfill, no contributing to those large random “hills” with the little pipes sticking out of them. No virgin materials. Nothing made in China. Yippee! Now… if everyone will cooperate and please put the 100% post consumer waste, soy-ink printed, pretty little made in the U.S.A. boxes in the recycling bin and the internal Natureflex® wrapper in their backyard compost bin, we’d be good to go.

It took months, and lots of them, to get to this point. We started with poly-something or other a couple years ago in our quest for the simplest, least expensive package with the lowest impact on mother nature. It could be recycled and had, quite simply, a small round sticker on the back, made from 100% recycled material. It was not printed with soy ink yet, but we were getting there… We thought we were good for a while. Then, miraculously, we discovered Natureflex®. This was good, and well, bad. Good, because it was compostable, but bad, because the mixes shipped fine but arrived as boxes of dust, (the packaging seemed to compost on it’s way to the east coast, miraculously) plus the pretty little compostable bags did not, unfortunately, keep the cookies fresh more than a few days. We embarrassed ourselves shipping flour dust to a few potential customers while simultaneously losing two accounts – a national high-end luxury grocer and a local coffee shop. Oops!

Round two: the search was on for a “better” Natureflex®. Who knew there were so many varieties of the same product? Luckily, we had help from the manufacturer herself. Yippee! That wasn’t too bad. Sigh of relief… The new, custom sized bags were pretty awesome and again we were proud of ourselves–except when the cookies decided to spread just a wee bit on the more humid days and wouldn’t fit into those beautiful new custom sized bags of which we just ordered tens of thousands! Oops(2)! Eventually we figured out what to do with our recipes on those more exciting humid days and things worked out just fine again – until we started shipping them.

Round three – ding! Shipping cookies without proper boundaries for them proved to be exciting at best. Not so much dust arriving as boxes of crumbs! Oops(3)! Besides, having the cookies rely on each other for support didn’t prove to be too pretty in stores or coffee shops either. They just couldn’t keep each other up too well. Some sagged from the pressure; others just gave in. In either case, where there were large quantities of cookies, they couldn’t stand up to the constant abuse of customer handling; where there were scant numbers, they looked sad and lonely. Thus, the box concept was introduced.

Round four: The Box.

We solicited every single local box manufacturer in the KC metro – of which we were aware, that is, from extensive research and networking with locals. Unfortunately, none were really what we were quite looking for, so we ventured outside the KC area. Sigh. Luckily, however, we remained in the Midwest, finding a wind powered facility – YES!!! Excellent discovery! So far, so good! Had you told us that it would be months out, with a dozen FedEx packages back/forth for signatures/approvals/design changes & custom inks, we might have thought you were stark raving mad at that point, but alas, here we are… feels like Round 19 by now, and still no boxes.

In the meantime, nutritional data was being analyzed, changed, ingredients sourced, re-sourced, changed, and modified again, and then re-analyzed multiple times, not to mention recipe changes, sourcing modifications and product redesigns… and you have an entirely different fork in the road going on simultaneously! Thank you to our amazing Food Scientist, Kathryn! We owe you some serious cookies.

Did we forget to tell you that the labels for the boxes were being worked on, designed and modified at the exact same time? UPCs had long ago been purchased but were awaiting their final placement; ingredients and story line just waiting to be sourced and written properly; colors, weights, wording, fonts, disclaimers all vying for top billing in our time management skills. Thank heaven for our Designer Extraordinaire, Todd Zimmer, who kept it all together with style, grace and dignity! Could absolutely, positively not have done it without his expert guidance and professional, beautiful work. We think you might agree once it all comes together – let’s hope by Thanksgiving!

At this point we could teach a class or two on the fine art of putting together a simple cookie box. Any takers?

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