Nora Mill and Whole Grains

Recently Earth Momma, her 8 year old daughter C, and I went to the North Georgia mountains for a mini-vacation.

Unfortunately Black Hair, their youngest daughter, and El Guapo couldn’t make it to this weekend getaway but they were missed and we made sure to photo-document even more thoroughly.

Even down to our entertainment misadventures.

sad sad tape

We had a great time looking at creeks,


mountain vistas,


and eating hearty German food.

gypsy schnitzel


But one of the highlights of the trip was when we visited Nora Mill, a 135 year old working grist mill outside of Helen, GA.

Nora Mill

When we walked in, the first thing we noticed was the sound of the millstone grinding away at hundreds of pounds of  yellow corn. After perusing the shop (which is located in the operational mill) for a while, we grabbed some bags of grits and Pioneer Porridge (tasty stuff) and headed over to the whirling millstone to take a peep.


The millstones are original.

sign by the millstone

While there, we were intercepted by Tom, who was apparently the owner of the mill. I guess we looked curious and ready to learn, because Tom told us all about how milling grain actually works.

Tom demonstrating

First of all, everything at Nora Mill is powered by water. The mill sits beside the Chattahoochee River and harnesses it’s energy to operate the millstones and grain elevators.

the water that powers it

pathway to the mechanical side

a gear or pulley of some sort

The water being returned to the river:

water after being used

In Nora Mill, the grain is manually emptied (by lifting a lever) into a hole in the floor which dumps it into the grain elevator.

The grain elevator then transports the grain to a large funnel-like thing that sits over the whirring mill stone and steadily disperses it to be milled.

grain being milled

The milled grain falls into another hole in the ground which leads to a separate grain elevator which takes the freshly milled grain (now particulate) up to a place in the attic where it is sifted and separated by size.

Tom showing texture differences

Tom let C touch the grain to see the different particulate sizes.

The finely ground particles are used for cornmeal.

The medium-sized particulate are used for grits and porridge.

The large particulate are used to feed the river ducks. Nothing gets wasted.

loads of product

Nora Mill uses the whole grain, Tom made sure to point out. Nothing is enriched–because nothing was taken out of it.

This is in direct contrast to the grain mill that was invented around 1833.

You see, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing by then and the supply of flour and meal from traditional grist mills could not meet the demand from society.

from stephaniesyjuco

That’s why the Industrial Revolution happened, actually. Supply and demand.

from nonsoloart

Anyway, the demand was too high for what these small, locally owned, water-powered mills could provide, so an automatic milling machine was invented somewhere around 1833. However, this new machine got really hot while it milled the grain and the heat caused oils to leach out of the grains, which in turn led to using only part of the grain.

from wholegraincouncil

Grist mills never get hot and thusly use the whole grain instead of only part of it.

This heat and oil-leaching caused vital nutrients to escape from the grain, which led to the enrichment of these grains–to put back some of the nutrients lost in the milling process.


Which is why you should always opt for whole grain instead of enriched grain.

from nutritionmythbusters

And why (if you can) you should find a local mill and purchase grains from them. It’s much healthier, it tastes better, and you’re supporting a local business. Everyone wins.

I hope you’ve been edified and are as sold on whole grains as I am.

suck it, martha.

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  1. Kale & Eggs & Grits | suck it, martha - March 12, 2012

    […] got mine at Nora Mill. For more information on Nora Mill, go here. It’s pretty […]

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