By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
CANNON BEACH — Bob Moore said at the outset that he hoped what he had to say didn’t sound like a sales talk.
But there was no way to dampen the enthusiasm the amazingly bright and energetic 92-year-old showed regarding what he is most passionate — healthy whole grain foods, the joys and challenges of enterpreneurship, the importance of treating employees well.
And his Christian faith.
“I’ve had a wonderful life,” Moore summed up, without a hint of winding his activities down anytime soon.
Moore shared his thoughts March 24 at the 11th conference of Christian Chefs International, hosted by the Christian Culinary Academy and held at the Cannon Beach Conference Center. Both the academy, which is housed at the center, and the chefs association are headed by Ira Krizo, who introduced Moore to the audience of about 50. Krizo noted that Moore spoke at the group’s first conference more than a decade ago.
“Bob has a heart for the Lord, and for service and for hospitality,” said Krizo. “It’s really inspiring to me.”
Moore is one of the most recognizable business people in the Northwest. Wearing his trademark cap and red vest, he has become a bit of a celebrity in Oregon; his image is featured on packages for the roughly 400 different Bob’s Red Mill food products made at the company’s massive 325,000 square-foot – and still expanding — facility in Milwaukie. Its 22 mills run around the clock. Sales of the grain products, beans, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, herbs and spices are worldwide.
From its inception in 1978, the company has always been firmly based on using the whole grain, and on grinding with quartz millstones. Moore was fascinated decades ago to learn how millstones date to ancient times, such as in the Roman-era city of Pompeii. He went on to describe the benefits of stone grinding today.
“They’re so utterly simple, and they do such a beautiful job.” he said.
With Scripture references, Moore outlined how the Bible emphasizes the important role millstones had in ancient life. For instance, Deuteronomy 24:6 describes a dependence on millstone use for daily sustenance.
Moore said that in Genesis 1, verses 11 and 29 — “the first page of the Bible, it tells you what real food is.”
“I believe Godly grains and whole grain foods for every meal of the day is important,” he added.
Moore said he has found that the Word of God and the business world are very compatible. But he stressed that means treating your workers in a Godly way, as suggested in The Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12.
That thinking prompted him to establish a profit-sharing plan with his employees 30 years ago. Eleven years ago, Moore made headlines when he transferred ownership of his company to his workers using an employee stock ownership plan. Today 470 workers are sharing in that, and product packages state clearly that Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned company.
Moore is convinced that the healthy diet he promotes is a huge factor in his long life.
“I keep looking for some reason why I should be so old, and still able to do this,” he said. “I think this is why.”
Washington resident Graham Kerr, who decades ago was the famed “Galloping Gourmet” on TV, also spoke to the conference by video. For more on the association and the academy, go to christianchefs.org