The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Devin Pickler, who has been working at the Co-op as a dishwasher for six years. For his recommendation, Devin chose R. W. Knudsen Family Lemon Ginger Echinacea juice that is located in the shelf-stable juice aisle. Devin says he drinks this juice often this time of year in order to get an immune system boost from the echinacea, but he also enjoys it year-round. Devin says this juice has a very pleasant flavor that isn’t overly sweet like some lemonades, and that the ginger gives it just the right amount of kick. As you can probably imagine, washing dishes at the Co-op in the summer is a job where you can tend to get a little warm, and Devin often chooses this beverage to keep himself cool and hydrated. In 1961 Russel W. Knudsen began bottling fruit juices from his own organic grape vineyard in Paradise, California. From this humble beginning, the company has grown to selling over 100 types of fruit and vegetable juices, many of them organic, as well as natural sports energy drinks. Their products are still sweetened without artificial flavors or preservatives, and are an official participant of the Non-GMO Project. R.W. Knudsen Family is a subsidiary of the J.M. Smucker Company, which has been around for more than 115 years. The J.M. Smucker Company has consistently been named by Fortune magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America, likely because of the “Basic Beliefs” which guide both their strategic decisions and daily behavior. These “Basic Beliefs” about quality, people, ethics, growth and independence have provided a strong foundation for the company. In particular, they require direct suppliers to contractually agree not to employ children, prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor or to participate in human trafficking, and they perform Quality Assurance audits on suppliers to look for any evidence of these activities (R.W. Knudsen Family, 2016).
Matthew Harbison was the second staff-person I spoke with this month, and he has been working at the Co-op as a produce stocker for the past year. For his recommendation Matthew chose Bubbies sauerkraut. He says he is a fan of all things pickled and thinks that this kraut should be on everybody’s “try” list because it is crisp and fresh tasting in a way that many jarred sauerkrauts are not. Matthew says that this product is about as close as you can get to having homemade kraut without the hassle of making it, but he is happy to help you pick out a head of cabbage if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try to ferment your own. He recommends eating it plain (like a salad) or with the brats made by the Co-op meat department.
In 1982, Leigh Truex began giving her homemade dill pickles to friends and family. Their encouragement led Leigh to begin producing her pickles commercially. While her pickles were delicious, the business struggled and was eventually sold, along with the pickling recipe, to Kathy and John Gray. The Grays changed their labeling, built relationships with customers, distributors and food brokers, and built the business into the successful company it is today. They also expanded the product line to include bread and butter pickles, pickled green tomatoes, naturally fermented dill relish, naturally fermented sauerkraut, two kinds of horseradish and pickled herring. They are still a privately held company and, as the owner John Gray says, “We make products that are authentic, wholesome and they just taste better, and we will continue to listen to our customers and promote who and what we really are” (Bubbies, 2018).
Bubbies. (2018). Bubbies Story. Retrieved from Bubbies: https://bubbies.com/story
R.W. Knudsen Family. (2016). Transparency in the Supply Chain. Retrieved from R.W. Knudsen Family: https://www.rwknudsenfamily.com/transparency