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Our Commitment

Against The Grain is committed to baking gluten free products using the natural properties of real foods. We combine innovative, artisan baking techniques with naturally gluten free ingredients to stabilize, bind, and leaven our breads. In fact, we don't use a single ingredient that you couldn't find in your own pantry. The result is a line of products with absolutely no compromise in taste, quality, and texture. We are a celiac-owned family business. Like you, we have to navigate our way through the maze of specialty and mainstream gluten free products, some excellent, some not so good, some we trust implicitly, some that have given us reason to doubt them.

Our Facility and Staff

We are a celiac-family owned business located in Brattleboro, Vermont. We make all of our products ourselves in a dedicated gluten free facility, with all new equipment, that we built from the ground up. We use no co-packers in any product that we sell because we want to oversee and control all aspects of the production process. Likewise, we do not co-pack for any other company or sell any product that we make under other companies' brand names, although we have had ample opportunities over the years to do just that. This simply doesn't interest us. Our mission has always been to create the best possible gluten free products, and we have never wanted to be distracted from this mission by making food for other companies. Everyday, we eat what we make. You won't find higher quality gluten-free bread or pizza products than ours, from the cleanliness of the label, to the integrity of our ingredients, to the passionate care of our employees.

We believe that we hire only the best. We pay our staff livable wages, and we provide them with full medical benefits, paid time off, paid holidays, and retirement benefits. Just as we source our ingredients and materials locally, we have sourced our entire management team from our production floor. All of our front office staff has worked on our production floor at one time or another. This is an important part of who we are.

Our Local Economy

We strongly believe in supporting our local economy and family farms. We buy all of our ingredients, supplies, and services locally whenever possible and don't cut costs at their expense. Many of our major ingredients--milk, eggs, buckwheat, and a good portion of our cheese--all come from local producers, and in the case of the milk, eggs, and buckwheat, these are multi-generational family farms. If we can use a local source and they can supply us in the quantities we require, this is usually our first choice. This applies to our non-food materials as well: our boxes, cartons, bags, labels, and many other materials and services are locally sourced. We work with Efficiency Vermont to source the most energy-efficient heating, cooling, lighting, and equipment. We recycle vast amounts of cardboard, paper, and cans, including composting the tons (literally) of eggshells we produce every day.

We are both proud and humbled by the meteoric growth of Against The Grain from the small two-person company that started in 2006. Our company has become a significant employer in our area, which, like many other communities in New England, has been challenged by the steep loss of jobs in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Against The Grain has been named as the fastest growing company in Vermont every year since 2013, and we are honored to have this distinction. However, we recognize that with success comes responsibility. We encourage and mentor food entrepreneurs all across the country, but especially in Southern Vermont. We particularly believe in and support Vermont's rich heritage of food entrepreneurship.

Nancy: How Did We Get Here?

I remember very clearly my first baking experience. I was nine years old, and I came home from school and announced that I needed to bring a cherry pie to school for a bake sale. My dad, who was the baker in the house, said "sure," but I would have to make it myself; he would direct me. I still remember standing over the butcher block table struggling with that pie crust. If you had asked me back then what I wanted to be when I grow up, it certainly wouldn't have been a baker. In fact, I decided at an early age that I wanted to be an inventor.

Many years intervened between that cherry pie experience and now. I came up with many hair-brained ideas, but they never got off the drawing board. Instead I became an academic, a writer, and I went to work on Wall Street. But all the while the entrepreneurial spirit was gnawing at me. And then Tom and our younger son were diagnosed with celiac disease, setting off a course of events that has led us to begin many days by asking ourselves, "How did we get here, anyway?"

With two teenagers in the house, and one requiring a gluten free diet, I felt I had no option other than to make tasty, naturally gluten free food that everyone would eat. Desperation awakened the nascent inventor in me. It didn't take me long to realize that I absolutely loved taking simple ingredients and turning them into unique gluten free products. I also quickly discovered that I'm totally entertained by sourcing, designing, and modifying baking equipment to bring those products to the market. Someone should have told that nine-year-old girl that Against The Grain Gourmet was my destiny!

Tom: It's All Good

I am fond of quoting Judith Martin, aka "Miss Manners," who says couples should not be seated next to each other at dinner parties because they tell the same stories, but they tell them differently. My recollection of the origins of Against The Grain goes like this: I had been on this challenging gluten-free diet for a number of years, and hated the bread products—crumbly faux-sandwich wrap substitutes, astonishingly bad sandwich bread, no burgers or pizza—the whole deal. When my then 14 year-old son was also diagnosed with celiac disease, Nancy went into high gear to make his life normal. Nothing like the maternal instinct! Suddenly I find myself eating really good bread and pizza, and I am telling Nancy, "You really ought to think about making a business out of this." For a little while, she said she was thinking about writing a cookbook. I dissuaded her, saying "Who wants to cook? They want to buy it already made." Or something like that.

Somehow "you" starting the company (Nancy) quickly morphed into "we" (both of us). I was OK with that. I have done many different things over the years: college instructor & opera composer; Wall Street systems management; computer & technical book author, even fiction writing, among other things. I'd never run my own company, although the signs were all there. When I worked for others, my bosses never could quite understand that they should to be reporting to me, rather than the other way around. That Nancy and I knew practically nothing about the food business (other than the waiter/waitress stints we did as graduate students), was no obstacle. If you are resourceful, you can find out what you need to know.

Maybe that is what entrepreneurs do. I am also willing to take risks, which is another thing you have to do. But I knew a good thing when I saw it, and I knew how much people like me desperately wanted what it was that Nancy could make. I never looked back.One thing that has become abundantly clear since we started this is how little the average consumer knows about food manufacturing. Because Nancy and I came into this business with no pre-conceived notions as to how you manufacture food on a large scale, it never occurred to us to take the kind of shortcuts (read: cost savings) in order to make cheap food. If the recipe calls for eggs, you use real eggs; you use real milk; you use real cheese; and so on. None of these chemically engineered additives, enzymes, binders, mold inhibitors, flavor enhancers, and all the other weird inventions of the food industrialists.

If I have a personal mission, it is to make available to everyone what I have been so fortunate to have for myself—Nancy's original and excellent gluten-free creations.

Chester: Our Trusted Receptionist

Although Chester was not a founding member of Against The Grain, he's been our receptionist his entire life. As a senior member of the front office team, his job is to bark at incoming delivery trucks, chase off unwanted salesmen, and otherwise entertain folks who come into our office with his sometimes overbearingly friendly behavior.

He gives us a good reason to go outside and enjoy our surroundings several times a day. He loves to hunt in the field next to our factory, and we've added his image to the funky mural that adorns the entrance of our retail store. He's a major water dog, both frozen and not. You'll either find him bounding through the snow or chasing anything in the water.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

Our company was founded in 2005, and we began shipping in 2006. Initially, our breads were sold in New England, and then we expanded our distribution across the US as interest in our products grew. Breads were our first products, followed by the introduction of pizza shells. Our prepared pizzas were introduced in June 2010. In October 2010, we launched a new line of dairy free breads made with organic coconut milk. Our distribution expanded into the Western part of the country in January 2011 when Whole Foods selected our pizzas for national introduction. In October 2014, we introduced our pita bread. We expanded our pizza line in January 2016 with the introduction of our personal-sized flatbread pizzas.

Do You Have A Gluten Free Baking Philosophy?

Against The Grain is committed to baking gluten free products using the natural properties of real foods. We combine innovative, artisan baking techniques with naturally gluten free ingredients to stabilize, bind, and leaven our breads. In fact, we don't use a single ingredient that you couldn't find in your own pantry. The result is a line of products with absolutely no compromise in taste, quality, and texture.

We bake everything from scratch, including making our own pesto and pizza sauces. Indeed, we spend a good amount of time chopping, shredding, pouring, and blending our ingredients, as well as cracking farm-fresh eggs. There are no boxed or powdered eggs and milk here, and there is no question that you can taste the difference.

We're not interested in imitating gluten-based products typical of the industrial food chain: you won't find industrial formulations in our breads, like enzymes, cellulose, modified starches, and "natural" mold inhibitors. In the words of British chef Jamie Oliver, "Don't worry if the food you bought begins to spoil, worry if it doesn't."

Our Factory Store

In the spring of 2015 we opened the Against The Grain Factory Store. We sell factory seconds, product ideas that we're testing, including new frozen products, shelf-stable products, and various branded non-food items, such as cookbooks/recipe books, tee shirts, and cooking gear. There's a viewing window in the store onto a portion of our factory, where you can see the pizza and pita lines in operation.

Our store is located next to our factory and you can spot it by the funky mural adorning the building, created by Vermont mural artist Tara Goreau. Look also for the propane tanks emblazoned with pigs, cows, and other animals, also painted by Tara. The store hours vary, depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check the ATG Factory Store Facebook page for posting on the hours and specials.