Healthy Food Technologies

Date Published: Sun, 01 Sep 2013

A Doughnut A Day?

Perpetually afraid of getting lost and arriving late, even in a town as familiar as Almonte, I left for my interview with Ed Atwell, the creative mind behind Healthy Food Technologies (HFT), about twenty minutes early. I soon found though, that the otherwise ambiguous-looking building on Industrial Avenue has earned a definite presence in uptown Almonte. Signs reading “Donuts today!”, adorned with balloons and arrows pointing toward the HFT headquarters, were placed conveniently along my route, and, as with anywhere in Almonte, I was able to get there in about four minutes. This meant I had a little waiting to do in the lobby of the building, greeted first by Ed’s wife Doris and daughter Faith. During the few minutes I waited, the flow of doughnut-seeking customers was constant. Since HFT has only been selling doughnuts for a mere couple of weeks, many had questions about what exactly makes them healthier.

Almonte doughnuts & fritters from HFC

Faith and Doris were prepared, explaining that HFT uses an effective fry-bake technology that reduces the fat in the doughnuts by 50–70%. I heard Faith say to one customer, “Don’t worry — we don’t put any carrots in them to make them healthy!” My interest was piqued.

Ed and Doris Atwell are the creators of Healthy Food Technology (HFT), a research and development centre that created a machine that, according to Ed, deep fries anything but leaves the finished product with about half the fat.

Initially, Ed and his team of developers were using doughnuts simply as tests for the machine. They were making doughnuts, taste-testing them, and then throwing them out. So, they decided to sell them. “We thought, ‘we’re not a doughnut shop, but maybe what we can do is connect with the public,’” he explained.

Now, after months of taste-testing the product of his invention, Ed says he could never go back to eating mainstream doughnuts.

“Four months go by and I go into a major doughnut shop chain and, just for fun, I buy a doughnut. So I walk out to my car, I take a bite, and I say to myself, ‘There’s something wrong with this,’” he says. “So I go to walk back into the doughnut shop to say that there’s something wrong with their product, and that’s when it hit me — there’s nothing wrong with that product. It’s just that bad.”

The difference, Ed says, is the amount of time that the product spends in the oil.

“Flavour profile is created exactly where the product meets the oil — the immediate contact,” he says. “The other flavour profile is the actual ingredients in the product. That being said, when you have a flavour profile at immediate contact, anything more than that actually dilutes from the flavour profile of the actual product. Nobody takes a can of Crisco, reaches into it with their finger and just eats it.”

The machine currently being tested at HFT has a capacity of about 200 dozen doughnuts per hour, Ed says. In six months he hopes to be testing a newer machine with a capacity of 400 per hour. Ed says drawings are also in the works for a machine specifically designed for French fries, offers for which he’d gladly accept from McDonald’s or any other large chain.

Ed says HFT’s main overarching goal is to attack the current obesity epidemic, not by taking away the public’s treats, but by replacing them with something that’s just as good, but more good-for-you.

According to Jean-Yves Lemoine, who is in charge of marketing for HFT, the company takes a more realistic approach to combating the obesity epidemic. “We try not to change people’s eating habits, and just change what exists right now,” he says.

Ed adds that, while corrective measures like exercise are effective in combating obesity, it’s important to take a close look at the root of the problem — in this case, high-fat foods. But, while some might remove those foods altogether, HFT has decided that’s not necessary.

“Essentially, everyone’s trying to put a band-aid on what’s cutting, and what we’ve done is just dulled the knife,” Ed says.

The machine also has environmental benefits — its innovative heat distribution system, Ed says, makes it more energy efficient than what’s currently available in the industry.

HFC's owners Ed & Doris Atwell

Ed, who over the years has worked in high level management for Country Style Donuts, Tim Hortons, and as a consultant for businesses within the doughnut industry, has also had a long-time dream of pursuing music, and often finds links between his two passions.

“I’ve been writing some of my greatest music during this project,” he says, “because I’d get hit with some huge issue with the patent, with the wording of the patent, my patent writing. So, late at night when I can’t sleep and it’s bugging me… I’d get up and start hammering on the music.”

Ed says he often jokes that HFT technology is just a front for his real passion — music — but, in all seriousness, he would like to record an album once the company becomes more established.

“I’m an inventor,” he says. “I’m a creative thinker. I constantly like to turn things upside down.”

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