It's 4:30am and the workers at rND Bakery are busy prepping dough for the oven.
Not so unusual for a bakery, you may think. But rND is not your usual bakery.
Everything they make is hand-made. Their yeast-free, gluten free, vegan bagels have a distinctively soft, airy texture that comes from Canadian oats. The tagline on their website says it all: "Bread Uncomplicated."
But their approach to creating that bread is anything but uncomplicated.
"We want to avoid the mistakes that western society has made in their growth." says Will Spencer, PhD, owner of rND Bakery. "As a scientist this is what I concentrate on (when developing the recipe for his breads): obesity, diabetes and depression."
Will began his educational career in lab technology, did a Masters in Oncology, a PhD in Microbial Physiology and a Postdoctoral in Human Nutrition.
He has worked with CHEO and the Neonatal unit at the Ottawa General Hospital, looking at nutritional foundations for children, and the development of food allergies later in life. But it was his work in a bakery that influenced his decision to start making scientifically nutritious bagels and breads.
Will is passionate about making the best, most nutritious bagels possible.
"The microbiome, it's called the gut/brain axis, and the major player there is the gut microbes. What you eat affects the dynamic, the metabolic behaviour of those microbes, which influences brain function. That's how diet affects things like Parkinson's, Alzheimers and depression."
"We are working with scientists, doctors, nutritionists and dieticians."
In future, rND plans to partner with universities to work on clinical studies for Agriculture Canada.
They make their bagels with minimal ingredients. Organic oats, tapioca, psyllium. And they are delicious.
"Our breads are hand made, unlike the large, automated bakeries which do things like add extra yeast to make their bread rise evenly for a consistent, assembly line loaf. Extra yeast can contribute to yeast allergies. It's like putting something in that was never intended for the product."
Bagels are the mainstay of his bakery, but Will has some other ambitions.
"Eventually, we want to start hybridizing our oat flours with other grains. I've done some benchwork, looking at different doughs. Sorghum has a lot of advantages, it disrupts the uptake of small sugars in the gastro-intestinal tract, so it helps even out blood sugar. That's one of the benefits of using a low glycemic, high fibre grain, it has a high satiation so you tend to feel less hungry. And oats are well-established as a heart-healthy grain."
He is very interested in developing partnerships with local farmers, and plans a field trial in 2019. He envisions fields of oats growing throughout Lanark county. "There is a huge advantage in planting in this area. Not a lot of farmers grow wheat, so oats can remain uncontaminated by stray wheat seeds."
Part of rND's main focus is their plan to expand and provide more jobs. They are in the process of collaborating with the Gallipeau Centre to build their own bakery. Eventually they will process and mill their own grains, so the entire bread baking journey will be done under one roof, from raw grain to finished bread.
They are also looking at flatbreads, fermentation and sprouting grains.
From a great product to an even greater product, that's the vision of rND Bakery and Will Spencer.
You can find their uncomplicated oat bagels in our freezer or bakery department.