Recipe Roundup: April 2021
Food First has roots in Walhalla
by Luann Dart
|Food First’s ProBiotein comes in a powder form in a 1-pound bag or 10-ounce container. Visit www.probiotein.com for a list of retailers.
Photos courtesy Food First
When Robert Thornberg founded a company in 1991 that produced cattle feed, he probably never envisioned the path he and his family would take to where they are today.
In 1991, Thornberg was managing an ethanol plant in Walhalla when he launched a cattle feed supplement business, SweetPro Premium Supplements.
“He was looking for a better way to use the byproducts from making ethanol, which are distillers grains. So, he basically started a cattle feed supplement business from that,” describes Bob’s son, Jordan Thornberg. Soon, the business branched into horse feed as well, using a fermented blend of wheat, oats, flax and barley malt to form the key ingredient, ProBiotein.
Then, customers began asking about the benefits of the ProBiotein product for human consumption.
“So, we got pulled into that different area of the market,” Jordan says. The Food First test kitchen began in a former Dairy Queen building in Walhalla. By 2017, Food First’s ProBiotein plant began operations as a food-grade facility in Walhalla, producing ProBiotein powder and MicroBiome Bars which use ProBiotein as an ingredient.
To create ProBiotein, a fermentation process reduces the starches, concentrates the proteins and provides nutritional yeast, plus four prebiotic fibers, Jordan says.
“Basically, it’s taking the best parts of the ingredients and fermenting away the rest, so you’re getting all the good stuff,” he says.
|Some of the equipment at the Walhalla Food First production facility includes a double-drum dryer, which is used to dry the company’s ProBiotein. In the background to the right is a wrapping machine used to package the MicroBiome Bars.|
Consumers may be familiar with probiotics, but Food First’s products are prebiotics.
“With probiotics, those are the naturally occurring bacteria that are in your gut,” Jordan describes. “We’re taking a little different approach by using prebiotics to feed the good probiotic bacteria that you already have, so it’s a lot more efficient way to strengthen that microbiome.”
The ProBiotein powder can be added to smoothies or as a substitute for a portion of the flour in baking.
“It’s a really good fit with banana bread,” Jordan says.
The MicroBiome Bar comes in four flavors: P-Nutty Cranberry, Sunny-Saskatoon Berry that uses sunflower butter, Razz-Apple Almond and Choco-Cherry Walnut.
Operating under the umbrella company of Harvest Fuel, SweetPro and Food First continue with the Thornberg family, as Bob’s children and other family members are heavily involved with the business.
“There are quite a few Thornbergs still involved,” Jordan says.
The family is proud of their North Dakota small-town roots and appreciate the feedback they’ve received from customers.
“Anytime you hear positive feedback from someone who has had hands-on use of the product, it’s always fun to hear those,” Jordan says.