Common Questions

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Common Questions
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Table of Contents

  1. Are we non-GMO?       

     For more information about GMO: FAQ non-GMO Organic Trade Association, Non- GMO Practices in Organic Production by the Organic Trade Association, and Organic and non-GMO

  2. What does organic mean?

  3. What's a heirloom variety?

  4. What does GAP mean?


  1. Is there butter added to our popcorn?

  2. What is the difference between yellow and white popcorn?

  3. Is there a certain way to pop our popcorn?


  1. What's the difference between soft and hard wheat?     (See also: 6 Different Types of Wheat)


  1. Are our oats gluten free?

  2. What's an oat groat?

  3. What are hulless oats?

  4. What's the advantage of hulless oats?

  5. What's the shelf life of hulless oats?

  6. What can you do with hulless oats?     (See also: Comparing Oats)



Are we non-GMO?

YES. Everything we grow is non-GMO. (At least to the extent anything can be called non-GMO today.) I have never knowingly raised any GM crops.

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What does Organic mean?

Simply put, it means farming without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

Specifically: It's a term the USDA has defined legally in an Act (The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) ) outlined by rules referred to as NOP. (National Organic Program.)

Organic production is defined as: A production system that is managed in accordance with the Act and regulations in this part to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

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What's a heirloom variety?

Back when farmers ate everything they grew (when my grandpa was a kid), they generally selected varieties that tasted good. When farming started becoming a specialized business, farmers started growing crops only to sell for cash. Farmers bought seeds from plant breeders (or specialized companies who just grew seed). Plant breeders no longer selected for taste. It wasn't as important as other agronomic traits. Many times taste wasn't considered at all. Now people are looking back to those old varieties to find what's sometimes been lost (taste).

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What does GAP mean?

GAP stands for Good Agriculture Practices and is generally used to refer to food safety. GAP Certified means a third party has verified that our farm has defined and is following procedures to keep it's produce safe.

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Is there butter added to our popcorn?

No. It's just the popcorn seed as it was picked from the field. Shelled and cleaned (with screens, etc.). The amish selected a variety they thought tasted like butter naturally.

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What is the difference between yellow and white popcorn?

Yellow popcorn varieties tend to pop up bigger and yield better. Many think white varieties taste better, and are "more" hulless. But, if you're going to drown the popcorn in butter, salt and seasoning anyway, it probably doesn't matter what the popcorn itself tastes like.

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Is there a certain way to pop our popcorn?

No, you can use a hot air popper, microwave, or oil.

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What's the difference between soft and hard wheat?

The makeup of the starch is different. If you break the kernel and look at a cross section of the seed (and you're eyes are still good enough); the starch in a hard wheat will look translucent (and hard) while the starch in a soft wheat looks white and powdery (and soft). Hard wheats are usually grown in the west, while Illinois farmers usually plant soft wheats. The hard wheats as a group are generally considered a bread wheat and the soft wheats as a pastry wheat. The difference being that the proteins in the hard wheat are strong enough to maintain the structure needed to keep a bread from falling after it rises. While this is good for bread, it can make a pastry chewy.

The environment the wheat is grown in can also greatly influence the proteins. If I grow the same variety of wheat in Illinois as someone else from a western state we'll end up with different protein tests. Illinois's environment generally won't yield a great quality bread wheat.

The wheat we're selling today usually works O.K. for making bread but is considered a pastry wheat variety. It's a good tasting wheat we've found works great for bread sticks, pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, etc.


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Are our oats gluten free?

No. We use the same machinery for both wheat and oats. They are sometimes raised in the same field. If your trying to avoid gluten for the health benefits, our oats are a good way to do this. But if your allergic to gluten, don't use these. Cross contamination could be a problem.

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What's an oat groat?

It's the oat seed without the glumes (hull) attached. Common oats need to be processed to remove the hulls. This process kills the germ of the oat seed. The groat is then the starting product used to make most human food oat products.

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What are hulless oats?

It's a variety (some even classify it as a different species; Avena nuda) of oats different from what is commonly raised today (Avena sativa). It was commonly grown in Europe in the 18th century. It's hulls (the inedible glume surrounding the seed) fall off very easily, usually in the harvesting (combining) process. When common oats are processed for human consumption, the oats are usually steamed and then run through a dehuller machine. Usually this process kills the germ of the common oat seed.   

Wikipedia lists the following: Avena nuda the naked oat or hulless oat, which plays much the same role in Europe as does A. abyssinica in Ethiopia. It is sometimes included in A. sativa and was widely grown in Europe before the latter replaced it. As its nutrient content is somewhat better than that of the common oat, A. nuda has increased in significance in recent years, especially in organic farming


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What's the advantage of hulless oats?

The advantage is that the groats are still raw. They'll still sprout. The disadvantage is they are harder and more expensive to grown (but I've already done that for you)

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What's the shelf life of hulless oats?

Since they haven't been processed and are still in the form God intented them to be stored, it's shelf life is probably measured in years. It's true that they haven't been heated to stabilize the proteins, but they also haven't been processed, so the seed is still intact and the cell membranes are naturally keeping the proteins preserved. Keeping them cool and dry helps prolong the shelf life. Freezing is even better and can kill many of the bugs which may get into them.

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What can you do with hulless oats?

Cut them into pieces and you'll have steel cut oats (Irish oatmeal). Grind them coarsely and you'll have Scottish oatmeal. Roll them coarsely and you'll have rolled oats (traditional oatmeal). Roll them tight and you'll have instant oatmeal. Grind them fine and you'll have oat flour. Or cook them as they are for an old fashioned breakfast cereal. For more specifics, see our list of recipes.

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Author information goes here.
Copyright 1999  [OrganizationName]. All rights reserved.
Revised: July 07, 2015 .

Allergy Notice: Our farm uses some of the same machinery to harvest and handle corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, buckwheat and field peas.

Copyright 2015 Brian Severson Farms, Inc.
Last modified: July 07, 2015