At last week’s EDCO Pub Talk, Sisters resident Josie Johnson, CEO and founder of Josie’s Best Gluten Free Mixes, explained her mission of redefining gluten-free foods.

She stressed that her gluten-free baking mixes really do provide classic tastes and textures, rather than the usual cardboard quality so many people object to in gluten-free products. She is intent on providing overall great products, not just “good for gluten-free.”

Johnson’s current lineup of products includes a gluten free (GF) pancake mix, a GF waffle mix, GF crepe mix, and GF muffin-and-more flour. The products are available in five-pound (retail) and 25-pound (food service) packages and can be found at Market of Choice across Oregon, Food4Less, Newport Avenue Market and Melvin’s, C.E. Lovejoy’s, and Central Oregon Locavore. They can also be found online at www.josiesbestgf.com and Amazon.

Not only is Josie’s Best gluten-free, it is also soy-free, nut-free, and GMO-free, which sets it apart from other gluten-free mixes.

The Original Pancake House in Bend is a loyal user of her products as well as the Hyatt Hotel in Bellevue, Washington. Johnson reported that 90 percent of her food-service customers used Bob’s Red Mill GF mixes before changing to Josie’s. Bob’s is their biggest competitor. All of their early success has been with Johnson as the only full-time employee.

Johnson’s search for better GF products grew out of her own issues with gluten that showed up when she was in high school. She has been gluten-free for 20 years and she said that has changed her life.

According to Johnson, there are 32 million people in the U.S. who have food allergies, 5.6 million of them children under age 18. That means two children in every classroom are dealing with food allergies. In 2018, gluten-free was a $17.5 billion industry and is forecast to increase 9.1 percent a year through 2025.

Currently in development is a just-add-water pancake mix and a chocolate chip cookie mix. In three years Johnson is aiming to have frozen and packaged GF foods on the market.

Her pitch was for board members who can offer advice and people able to provide mentorship as the business grows and diversifies. When asked what the Sisters community can do to help, Johnson answered, “Go out and buy our product and tell others about us.”