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An Old Bakery with New Ingredients

Barnesville, Minn. — James Nelson kept a family tradition alive when he reopened the bakery his Dad established in 1937. But it’s the nontraditional goods that make Son-Rise Bakery unique.

Son-Rise offers “diabetic-friendly” doughnuts and cookies made with healthy ingredients and Minnesota-grown organic flours.

Nelson’s enduring love for baking began in third grade when he helped out at his father’s bakery. “I grew up frying doughnuts in 400 degree oil, standing on a box,” he remembers. His career in teaching and coaching took him away from Minnesota — most recently to Boise, Idaho.

In 1998, after suffering a heart attack, Nelson’s interest in heathy foods escalated and he started developing organic baked goods.

In 2006, Nelson learned that his father’s Barnesville bakery was vacant and he decided to move back to his childhood home and reopen the bakery under a new name. He brought in his son, Myron, as co-owner.

The father-son team has sourced ingredients, developed their organic product line, trained new staff and upgraded the facility. After more than a year searching for a suitable organic flour, Nelson discovered Natural Way Mills in Middle River, Minn. “Ray Juhl at Natural Way is the miller who made it possible for us to get the flour produced just the way we needed it,” he says.

Nelson also researched and found a supplier of organic stevia (STEE-vee-uh), a natural plant-based sweetener that “tastes great in doughnuts and cookies and gives an energy burst” without the blood sugar “crash” after eating high-sugar foods, Nelson says.

The bakery’s organic goodies also contain inulin, a dietary fiber that “promotes healthy bacteria in the gut,” Nelson says. “We chose inulin to replace the fats and sugars that are common in traditional bakery products.”

To develop their product line, the Nelsons conducted scores of tests on baking methods and ingredients with the help of Charan Wadhawan, AURI food scientist in Crookston. Wadhawan sourced ingredients, analyzed nutritional and sensory values, and advised on regulatory issues. “Without Charan, I wouldn’t have made it,” Nelson says.

Son-Rise used AURI food laboratory equipment, including a sheeter, proofer and mixer, to help develop their processes. “Sometimes things go very wrong and you have to start all over,” Nelson says. “The best way to learn is to experiment.”

“That’s what AURI is here for,” Wadhawan says. “More and more consumers are demanding low-calorie, healthy foods, but they don’t want to sacrifice great taste, Son-Rise recognized this trend and developed baked goods that are both healthy and appetizing.”

The result is bakery goods that are “98.7 percent organic,” Nelson says. “I think they’re the finest in the world.”

Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland, Nelson says. At a recent tradeshow, “I convinced a very reluctant gentleman to try an organic doughnut,” he says. “He didn’t speak English, but once he tasted the doughnut, he ran away to get his grandson who came back and translated how much his grandfather loved the food.”

Son-Rise is also marketing organic product mixes to consumers and industrial markets such as schools. “We sold 3,500 pounds of mix this week,” Nelson says. “I know my organic products can help people live more healthily, and that’s my lifelong dream.”

For more information on Son-Rise Bakery products or to purchase mixes, contact James Nelson at (208) 908-2301.