January is National Oatmeal Month. The popular, whole-grain product has been a staple on breakfast tables and in baked goods for a long time now.

The health benefits of oatmeal have been well documented — it’s a good source of fiber, antioxidants and can help lower cholesterol.

What isn’t as well known, however, is the role Grain Millers plays in the international oat market. So in the sport of National Oatmeal Month, here are a few fun facts about St. Ansgar’s well-known oat mill:

1. Leading the way with Organic Oats

Grain Millers has been organic certified since 1990, and about 25% of their business is organic, and are a leading producer of organic oats in North America.

2. One of the largest in North America

While it’s definitely the largest employer in town, it hasn’t always been that way. The St. Ansgar plant has grown considerably since it moved here in 1988.  According to their website, Grain Millers is known as “the largest, cleanest, and most technically advanced oat mill in all of North America.”

PHOTO/CHARLES LEBLANC/FLICKR

3. Secretariat

When the mill in St. Ansgar was first bought by Grain Millers, its name was NorOats. One of the services NorOats provided was feed for racehorses, and you’ll probably recognize one of their high-profile customers: Secretariat. The Triple Crown winner in 1973, Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest race horse to ever live. St. Ansgar High School has always had a pretty good track team, maybe there’s something in the oats around here that make you run fast.

4. Innovators

To be an industry leader, you have to, well, lead. And Grain Millers has been at the forefront of innovation in their industry for many years. They developed a proprietary mechanical process in 2001 to produce the first-ever organic oat fiber without using chemical treatment. Again in 2014, Grain Millers pioneered a process to make purer gluten-free oats.

5. Scope of products

If it has oats in it, there’s a good chance it came from Grain Millers. Grain Millers’ products are found in a wide variety of familiar brands, such as breakfast cereals like Fruit Loops and Honey Bunches of Oats, to Blue Moon beer, as well as several popular oatmeal, granola bar and other cereal brands.

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