The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Willow Smith, who has been working at the Co-op as a Deli Server for five months. For her pick this month Willow chose the Garden of Eatin’ Kale Chips (which are more like a kale-flavored tortilla chip than a dried kale chip). Willow chose this product because she likes that they are a little different from your standard tortilla chip. They have more flavor and are more nutritious. She says she enjoys them with salsa and hummus, but feels they go best with the Co-op’s pesto or artichoke spinach dip.
Garden of Eatin’ was founded almost 45 years ago by Al Jacobsen and is considered to be one of the original flagship organic companies. Jacobsen grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania and first became interested in a healthy plant-based diet in the early 1900s when he discovered that his favorite barnyard companion (the chicken) was sometimes the centerpiece of family dinners. In the 1940s, Al began working as a product demonstrator for Hain Pure Foods, and eventually he started Garden of Eatin’ in the early 1970s.
When Garden of Eatin’ was founded, the entire company was built around one product, a whole wheat pita bread. Today there are 43 products that fall within four product lines. All of their products are made with natural and organic ingredients, which they believe is better for the environment, better for animals, and better for people. All of their organic corn is harvested by sustainable farming partners, made with expeller pressed oil, and certified Kosher (http://www.gardenofeatin.com/history/).
The second staff-person I spoke with this month was Brice McLaughlin. He has worked at the Co-op for two and a half years as a Produce Stocker. His pick this month is the Field Day organic black refried beans. Brice says he really likes Field Day products in general because they have a very consumer-friendly price point; however, he especially enjoys the refried beans. He says the beans have quite a bit of flavor on their own without having to add anything to them. When he compared them to competing brands, he noticed that they had significantly less sodium, and the black beans also didn’t contain canola (which several competing brands did).
Brice says his favorite way to prepare the black beans is to heat them on the stove or in the microwave, add a little chopped cilantro and green onions, and to eat them as a dip. He says you can add avocado if you are feeling really decadent.
Field Day is a brand located within a division of United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), which was incorporated in 1994 and is the leading national distributor of natural, organic, and specialty products. UNFI was formed when People’s Warehouse in Auburn, California, and Cornucopia Natural Foods in Rhode Island merged in 1996; each company had operated independently for 20 years before that. Since then, UNFI has grown substantially through acquisition of other smaller companies and consumer demand. Their largest customer is currently Whole Foods, but they also deliver to number of other grocery chains and smaller natural food stores. The mission of UNFI is to connect farms to families by delivering more organic and natural food to more plates across North America. They also support the movement that calls for the labeling of genetically modified and engineered foods (https://www.unfi.com/our-history).