Free as a bird

• Panna Artisan Bakery and Patisserie owner Susan Walsh.

THE smell of rich, freshly-ground flour greets us as we step into the new Panna Artisan Bakery and Patisserie in Palmyra.

Small, but no ordinary bakery, it’s a gluten-free customer’s dream.

Behind the counter we met owner and baker Susan Walsh, a healthy foods advocate.

Commercially produced gluten-free bread is often tasteless and bland, she says.

“The only loaf I could get was awful; it was like a solid brick.”

Suffering from coeliac disease and a compromised immune system, Ms Welsh constantly felt ill.

Off the shelf gluten-free breads actually made her feel worse, she says.

“There are gluten-free bread products available commercially, but most contain a variety of cellulose and other gums, plus multiple additives and are predominately constructed out of a mix of highly refined white starches, which have zero nutritional benefit.”

Ms Walsh spent three years researching and testing a variety of grains she ground into flour, and came up with recipes for more wholesome bread.

“Finally, I felt so much better and my body thanked me for eating actual food,” Ms Walsh says.

Panna’s breads are made from a variety of whole grains that are ground behind the counter in a stone mill.

“I don’t know of anyone else doing that in Perth,” Mrs Walsh says.

The company tries to buy mostly Australian organic grains, and the eggs and olive oil are locally-sourced.

“I want to support Australian growers,” Ms Walsh says.

“I have people coming in after eating my bread saying they hadn’t eaten anything like it before.”

Ms Walsh says she plans to hold educational sessions to raise awareness of healthy food and lifestyles.

She is an advocate for clearer labelling on foods, and for more transparent and smaller-scale food production.

by ATSU TSURU

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