Where Food Comes From CARE

It’s Valentine’s week and there couldn’t be a more perfect week for this week’s blog.  What comes to mind when you think of someone speaking from their heart?  When you speak from the heart you’re open and honest with your communication.  One way to speak from the heart is telling a powerful story about your life.  Maybe you talk about an event or something that touched your heart in a specific way.  Today we are happy to speak from our heart about the latest Where Food Comes From Standard.  We would like to introduce you to CARE™ – Food from the Heart.

What is CARE?

John and Leann Saunders, the founders of Where Food Comes started with a vision more than 25 years ago to create traceable, transparent food systems for producers and consumers.  Now, Where Food Comes From has expanded that vision by introducing a new program called CARE.

Let’s tell you a bit about the new program.  Where Food Comes From CARE is a suite of sustainability standards.  If you’ve been following our journey for a while, then your familiar with what sustainability means.  If your new to us, don’t worry, we will give you a quick crash course. You might hear others throwing the word around and it may be used in many different ways.  When Where Food Comes From talks about “Sustainable Agriculture” they mean doing what’s right when it comes to the animals, the environment and the people and communities in which they live.  This means caring for animals, environment, and people through wellbeing policies and practices, while also reducing their waste and energy by creating long-term strategies.

The CARE program certifies participating farmers and ranchers are implementing best practices in animal husbandry, environmental stewardship and a productive engagement with their local communities and the people within them.  Where Food Comes From CARE has been launched in the beef and dairy industries, with more to come in 2020.

The Standards

The BeefCare Standard was the first program introduced into the CARE suite of sustainability Standards.  IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From created new technology platforms to help farmers and ranchers capture and analyze data. This data is critical in understanding what consumers want and to meet requirements in other markets.

IMI Global launching BeefCARE will help to provide a better future for all generations to come by allowing producers to have a continuous improvement plan on their operations.

Speaking of improvement  brings us to the latest addition to the CARE suite – the DairyCARE Standard.  This program will be administered by Validus Verification Services, a division of Where Food Comes From.  Dairy operations will be evaluated under three specific Validus programs, this includes animal welfare, environment and worker review standards.  As a consumer, you’re looking for certain preferences when it comes to your food choices and Where Food Comes From hears your concerns and is answering those through the CARE Standard.

To Learn More  

Today, Where Food Comes From supports more than 15,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries, processors, retailers, distributors, trade associations, consumer brands and restaurants with a wide variety of value-added services.  That’s a lot of support and we’re growing!  The reason why farmers, consumers, brands and other organizations work with Where Food Comes From is because we lead with our heart.  Sustainability is important to everyone at Where Food Comes From. The demand has never been greater and Where Food Comes From is here to deliver on those demands through more transparency and standards.  So this Valentine’s Day week, we thank you for letting us speak to you from our heart about something that we CARE so much about!

For more information, https://wfcfcare.com

WFCF Storybit : Mariah Vineyards

Let’s go where the hospitality is genuine, and the wine is aromatic. Jump in the car, take in the scenery, we are headed down the country roads to check out Mariah Vineyard.  Let’s savor the fantastic taste of their many different grapes grown from sustainable farming practices. Their handcrafted wines are sure to leave you wanting more. From red berry fruit to vanilla spice they truly create a unique wine.  Let’s find out how a dream became a reality.

The Story

Starting in 1975, Vicki and Dan Dooling searched for the perfect land to start a vineyard.  This was prior to the popularity of vineyards and they wanted land outside of the mainstream vineyard areas. Dan was on the road during those days trucking throughout the 11 Western states for a company out of the San Francisco Bay area. Whenever he had a few days free, Vicki and Dan would look for potential vineyard land.  Finally, they found exactly what they were looking for.  The land was located on a mountain top in North West California in Mendocino County, which is 6 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean at 2,700-foot elevation. Dan had also showed the location to a close confidant of his from the local wine scene.  He instantly thought that Dan had found a diamond in the rough. Now, Dan had to turn it into a shining jewel and that he did over the next 25 years. They bought that timbered ground in 1979, cleared it, worked the ground, and established an infrastructure which became Mariah Vineyards.

Dan and Vicki planted their first 20 acres of Zinfendel in 1980 and 1981.  They did this all while living in a very small cabin with their two ranch dogs.  Because they had no employees during those years, Vicki’s mom and dad would come up from San Francisco to help layout the vineyard and plant the grapes.

Now, let’s fast forward to the present.  Today, they are in their 41st wine season and live by the philosophy of the Native Americans, “Walk softly on Mother Earth”. This has been their creed as stewards and farmers of the vineyard.  Their calendar year starts in January when they start pruning the previous year’s growth off. This means about 90% of all canes are the cut off, chopped up, and reincorporated into the ground.  They incorporate this with the cover crop of clover from the fall after harvest, then they tie up any arms that need tying and do any repairs to the stakes and trellis that support the vines. Spring cultivation and mowing is next with a few sprays of sulfur to clean up over wintering fungus or mildews.

One of the more important practices that they changed in the last 18 years is the switch to ‘dry farming.”  During that timeframe, they did experience a loss in acres and grapes, but one thing did stick out, the flavor profile.  So, in 1991 they started their own bonded winery and brand, Mariah Wines.  In doing so, they diverted about 2% of the grapes to their own small commercial winery. This gave them diversification in their farming operation regardless of the size.

This means they do not irrigate during summertime.  Instead, they rely on the rain they receive in the winter, which is usually between 80 to 120 inches of rainfall. With high organic content in the soil 9%-13% of the moisture holding capacity of the soil will get them through the growing season. They are not just farmers; they are winemakers and artists in their industry. Their pace maybe unhurried, but the flavors are worth the wait.

Verification Programs

Mariah Vineyards has been tied to the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance (CSWA) for years and have seen the benefits from their guidance and verification. They are currently in the process of upping their game even more in the near future.  This allows Mariah Vineyard to be more in tune with their family heritage of farming ideals. They elected to get involved with CSWA programs because it fit the way they’ve done business dating back to 1981.

Why Verify

Dan and Vicki are both supporters of the verification process because they have experienced the benefits and believe verification helps show credibility and honesty in the relationship between winegrower and customer.  This gives their customers assurance when selecting their wine and grapes.  Understanding the story of your product is important and with so many different brands and types it’s important to be transparent.  They rely and cherish the relationship they have created with their customers. If you enjoy reading about where your food comes from, Dan wants you to know it’s all about working hard with family and nature to produce an honest healthy product that you enjoy consuming. Wine and a good meal, the perfect combo!

Where Can You Find Mariah Wines?

Some of the wineries that buy Mariah grapes for their wines are:

  • Donkey & Goat – Berkeley, Cali.
  • Waist-Mast Wines – San Francisco, Cali.
  • Dogwood and Thistle – Napa, Cali.
  • Newton Wines – St.Helena, Napa Valley, Cali.
  • Seghesio Wines – Healdsburg, Cali.
  • LaRochell – Kenwood, Cali.
  • Wooden Head Wines – Healdsburg, Cali.
  • 1211Wines – San Francisco, Cali.
  • Rockwall Wines- Alameda, Cali.
  • Red Car Wines – Sebastopol, Cali.
  • Bee Hunter – Boonville, Cali.,
  • and their own winery Mariah Wines, Manchester, Cali.

Today they grow many different grape varieties – Old Vine Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, 4 varieties of Pinot Noir, and Primotivo; all of which are dry farmed.

Dan would like to share and give credit to the vineyards, that as stewards of the land they farm, which he says is best done by an old wine god saying :

“Back of the Wine is the Vintner
and back thru the years is his skill
but back of it all, are the Vines in the Sun and the Rain
and the Masters will”
-Bacchus, wine God

Learn more about Mariah on their website or by following them on Facebook!
Did you miss our blog on the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance?  Catch it here, and learn more about the program on their website.

WFCF Storybit : Carolina Ingredients

Savory, sweet, spicy and even cheesy… can you pick a favorite flavor?  To be fair, that’s a hard decision for most of us.  Most likely it will depend on what you’re adding that incredible flavor to.  Lucky for us Carolina Ingredients has all of our seasoning needs covered and best of all use sustainable practices in their quest to help other companies produce their fantastic products.  In fact, the research and development team at Carolina Ingredients work tirelessly to create custom seasoning blends and new products that they know people will love.  This week we’re heading to South Carolina to check out how Carolina Ingredients is decreasing their carbon footprint and optimizing sustainable practices all while helping other companies make the food we eat even more tasty!

The Story 

Since 1990 Carolina Ingredients has been working hard with businesses you trust to meet and exceed their seasoning needs for products that make their way onto your grocery shelves.  Since 1990 the business has grown substantially and in 2009 Carolina Ingredients relocated to Rock Hill, SC. Just a year later in 2010, Carolina Ingredients became the first seasoning manufacturer to achieve Silver Award LEED status.  So, what does LEED mean?  LEED stands for The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. Carolina Ingredients earned the Silver Award Status by using green material on their building.  The greener features the higher the LEED rating. We don’t mean the color green of course. When we reference green, we mean using material, design, and construction that are safer for the environment.  This helps generate savings with water and energy while decreasing waste.  Every story involving a LEED partner is a story about the people who support the best environmental practices.  So now that we know how they are helping to conserve the environment, what about sustainability when it comes to food?

Today, Carolina Ingredients has the ability to package as small as 1oz seasoning packets to as large as full totes. The companies that they sell to, that ultimately make delicious products that we consume, seasoning needs are met through their comprehensive warehouse and global sourcing departments.  They provide the service, expertise and consistency in snack seasoning notes, flavor profiles and flavor systems to become each company’s personal blending room. They have a highly trained research and development team that helps blend “Better for You” products.  So, what makes these seasonings so unique?

All of their seasonings are created with the consumer in mind.  They create recipes by removing artificial flavor and colors.  They even eliminate high fructose syrup and companies can even customize sodium level requirements. Maybe they are looking for a seasoning that’s Gluten free?  No problem! Carolina Ingredients has them covered on that too.  Maybe they want seasonings with vitamins.  Yes, they can even add vitamin fortification to their blends. Maybe they want to cater to those with a more basic palette and prefer simple flavors like French Onion, Garden tomato, or cheese blends.  They can find it all at Carolina Ingredients.  Carolina Ingredients can also provide more complex blends like Ancho Chili, Avocado Cilantro, and even Birthday Cake.  Yes! We did say Birthday Cake.  Can you imagine that delicious flavor on something like your popcorn? Sign us up!

So, what’s their trick to being so successful?  That’s easy!  Partnering and listening to their customer’s needs and understanding consumers.

In January 2019, Mitsubishi International Food Ingredients acquired 100% of Carolina Ingredients and they continue to stress the importance of partnering with their customers and creating value. 

Verification

Carolina Ingredients is USDA Organic Certified through International Certification Services (ICS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Where Food Comes From, Inc.  This means that they can meet all of their customer’s organic seasoning needs! The best part is if there is something that a customer wants but they don’t see an organic flavor they need, the team and Carolina will develop a sample especially for them.  How awesome is that?!

Carolina Ingredients also carries many Non-GMO seasoning blends.  The Non-GMO Project Verification is the leading independent verifier of Non-GMO foods.  Carolina Ingredients is leading the way when it comes to evolving seasonings in the food industry.  You can learn more about their products and their customized blends by visiting their website.

Why Verify

As you can see from their efforts, sustainability and verification is extremely important to the team at Carolina Ingredients.  In fact, it’s part of their core values. They pride themselves in being a steward and leader of sustainability.  It’s not just about being environmentally responsible, it’s about being environmentally responsible while also providing a quality food product to their customers that will help them make the best products for you and your family to enjoy.

WFCF Storybit : Kuaiwi Farm

For many of us, the best part of getting ready for our day is drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning.  There is nothing that can put the appropriate amount of “pep in your step” like your favorite cup of joe to start the day.  Most of us have probably even seen coffee popping up as an ingredient in everything from delicious desserts to beer and to even being used in a rub blend for your pork roast.  Coffee certainly has a lot of different uses, but drinking it will likely always be the most popular!  You’ve probably already guessed that we are going to be talking about coffee verification today.  That’s right, our International Certification Services (ICS) division, whom specializes in organic certification, works to verify coffee!  So, grab a cup of joe and let’s chat about Kuaiwi Farm and what sustainability and being Certified Organic means to them.

Their Story

It all started back in 1977 when Una Greenway and family made the move to the Captain Cook region of Hawaii.  The move to this beautiful region came with the purchase of a 5-acre farm above the Kona coast.  The farm was acquired with the full intention of healing the land and bringing it back to a natural state.  That’s where Una Greenaway and her husband stepped in to make the necessary changes for the future of Kuaiwi Farm.  For more than 4 decades their practices have helped Kuaiwi Farms thrive.  Their practices are based on respecting the earth and cultivating the land in a sustainable manner.  Today, their five acres are being worked organically and they also create their own amendments, which means they use compost and recycle all of the organic matter from the farm.  Una and husband Leon are very proud of what they have helped cultivate in Kuaiwi Farm.  So proud in fact that they even provide tours of Kuaiwi Farm to those interested in seeing things up close.  In those tours they treat their guests to “Old Kona Coffee” while showing off the many highlights of the farm which include some coffee trees that are more than 100 years old!

Verification  

Today, Kuaiwi Farm is an ICS client.  As you may recall from our earlier stories, ICS (a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc.) specializes in organic, gluten-free, and other related services.  In fact, ICS, founded in 1979, was one of the first organic certification companies in the U.S.  Needless to say, they have some experience when it comes to food certification.  In order to get Certified Organic through ICS, Kona had to follow specific guidelines within five different steps, including an onsite audit.  The team at both Kona and ICS share the same values about Organic practices for the land, environment, animals, and people.

Why Verify

Kuaiwi Farm grows a wide range of crops including Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, avocados, bananas, pineapple, tea, citrus, vegetable gardens and so much more.  Just like Where Food Comes From, they want to be transparent with their consumers because the story behind your food matters.  Kuaiwi Farm offers farm tours to consumers to learn more about their products and see the organic farm practices firsthand!  Come drink some coffee, taste jams, macadamia nuts and chat with the team at Kuaiwi Farm.

Learn more about Kona Old Style Coffee.
Learn more about Where Food Comes From, Inc.
Learn more about ICS.

Certified Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance Verifies Sustainable Operations

Has the craziness of the holiday season finally caught up with you?  Are you looking to unwind and relax?  Well, if you’re a wine lover there is nothing like a glass of wine at the end of the day to unwind with. You probably have your favorites to celebrate special occasions or just a nice table wine after a long day.  Regardless of the situation, you want a delicious wine made from the best grapes.  You want the best wine choices just like you do when you grocery shop for food.  Well, this week we are here to tell you about some very sustainable options.  Sit back, relax, and learn all about California Certified Sustainable wines from grapes to glass.

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

We’re here in sunny California to share with you the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance program, and what it means to drink a certified sustainable wine.  Introduced in 2010, the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE) is administered by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA).  The CSWA is a leader in promoting sustainable practices when it comes to winegrowing within the California wine community.  For all of us that are wine drinkers, we know that quite a bit of the domestic wine we drink comes from the California wine community.

At this point, you probably have wine on the brain and are wondering how wine and Where Food Comes From go together?  Let’s start by telling you a little about SureHarvest, a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc. since 2016.  SureHarvest works with diverse programs and collaborations to help with sustainability performance management.  But, what does that really mean?  This means that SureHarvest provides a platform solution that helps groups like the California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance manage their sustainability efforts more effectively.  Today, SureHarvest, through the assistance of Where Food Comes From, helps deliver the story to you, the consumer, about where your wine comes from with CSWA. You can say we are one big happy family.

Certification Requirements  

On an annual basis, vineyards who participate with CSWA are audited to maintain their certifications. They must meet 58 vineyard and 37 winery prerequisite practices exceeding an overall score of 85%, which equates to a 2 or higher on a 1-4 scale.  Having flashbacks yet of taking your ACT test? Well, this is a kind of a test for sustainable wine growers.  Besides adhering to certain practices, they must also implement an integrated pest management approach that complies with restrictions on crop protection.  An approved list of appropriate alternatives is provided.  All of this must be documented along with their performance metrics, which include water, energy, and many other resources. All of this is a continual improvement process that the wineries and vineyards must prioritize and implement regularly.  See, we weren’t kidding.  The CSWA takes sustainable winegrowing very seriously, which equates to the best possible wine for consumers like you.

Benefits of CSWA Certified Sustainable Wine

There are many benefits when it comes to sustainability, one of them being the environment.  During the sustainable winegrowing process, natural resources are preserved.  It also improves air and water quality, which we need to survive every day.  Sustainable growers and vintners help steward both human and natural resources.  Cultivating and preserving the land, and contributing economically within those communities, is what sustainability is all about.

What’s the major takeaway?  Vitners and growers attribute high-quality grapes used for wine production to their sustainable practices.  This is a very detailed process that requires continuous improvement.  Rest assured the CSWA always has your wine loving needs at heart.  When it comes to the benefits, here’s the short version; high quality wine, good neighbors and employers, thriving business, and environmental protection.  Who could ask for more?

How to Find CSWA Certified Vineyards and Wineries

Today, more than 2,000 vineyards and 149 wineries are CSWA Certified Sustainable.  As of July 2019, more than 255,000,000 total cases of wine have been verified CSWA Certified Sustainable.  That’s a ton of wine…actually that is much, much more than a ton of wine! The program’s growth continues to increase every year. CSWA Certified Sustainable is included in the domestic and international communication efforts of CSWA and the Wine Institute, which has export marketing programs for 25 countries.

The further the distance from California, the more important it becomes for wine regions and American Viticulture Area’s (AVA) to identify as being under the California umbrella. California winegrape growers and vintners have multiple factors to consider when choosing the right certification program.  CSWA Certified Sustainable has more than 8 years of recognition in the wine marketplace, which should give you comfort when selecting wines certified by CSWA.

We’re glad you stuck around and hope we educated your palette when it comes to your next wine purchase.  For a complete list of all Certified Sustainable wineries, vineyards, and wines check out the links below.  Happy Holidays and happy wine tasting!

For a complete list of CSWA CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE wineries, click HERE.

For a complete list of CSWA CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE vineyards, click HERE.
For a complete list of CSWA CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE wines, click HERE.

WFCF Storybit : Diestel Family Ranch

It’s almost game day!  It’s the evitable question – chicken, ham or turkey?  Time to ruffle some feathers because turkey is coming in for the win!  Gather around the table and enjoy a mouthwatering premium turkey from Diestel Family Ranch.  This week we are giving you all the juicy details on Diestel Turkey’s.

The Story

Part of the fourth generation Diestel family, Heidi shares the story of her Great-Great Uncle Ernest Bottini who set their entire story in motion after migrating from Western Europe more than 70 years ago.  Ernest landed in Sonora, CA, where he purchased 400 acres to start a turkey ranch. Heidi’s father, Tim, grew up working with turkeys alongside Ernest and his father Jack, who officially founded the Diestel Family Ranch in 1949. Passionate about carrying on the family’s tradition, her parents purchased the farm in the 1980s and changed the food game. Her mother, Joan, a registered dietitian, was determined to make high-quality, farm-to-table food more accessible to people.  Her father supported these efforts and helped define new industry standards for animal practices for antibiotic-free and organic poultry.

Today, the ranch is led by the fourth generation, which includes Heidi, her brother Jason, and her husband Jared. They’ve continued to adopt her parents’ passion for doing things the right way without compromise.  Along with their partner ranches, Heidi and team raise their birds with strict animal welfare standards. All the turkeys are given room to roam and provided a wholesome, nourishing environment with access to fresh water and clean air.  The turkeys are also fed an all-vegetarian diet without fillers, growth stimulants, or antibiotics, ever.  Because family is an important part of their lives, they are humbled to help support yours by providing a high-quality product.  Diestel turkeys can be found at select natural grocers across the country and online at DiestelTurkey.com.

Why Verify?

With so much information out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the best food to feed your family. That’s why transparency is so important and it’s why Diestal Family Ranch chooses to take part in verification programs, specifically the Where Food Comes From Source Verified program.  Third-party verification programs like help build trust between brands and consumers to help you make informed decisions when shopping. The Diestel family wants you to know you have the power to vote with your dollar. By choosing responsibly produced products, from verified sources, you’re showing the food industry that you value companies that hold themselves to a higher standard.  As a consumer you should also feel empowered to ask questions about your food and where it comes from.

Learn More  

The team at Diestel Family Ranch are dedicated and passionate about their business, which is why we wanted to share their story. Remember you don’t need a holiday to share a delicious turkey with the family.  What else can they say?  Their birds are flocking incredible.  Be sure to check out their website to learn more about this family owned ranch, including the lean and clean products they offer.

 

WFCF Storybit : Riverview’s Louriston Dairy

Do you enjoy pizza, cheeseburgers, maybe even a little mac n’ cheese?  If you are nodding your head yes than you’re guilty of being a cheese lover like the rest of us.  We just happen to know a few friends that support the super delicious cheese industry starting at the source.  This week we introduce you to Riverview’s Louriston Dairy.  A dairy who has a special passion for not just dairy cows, but the agriculture industry as a whole. In fact, they even work with some pretty popular food chains and products that we bet you would easily recognize.  So, this week let us tell you a little about Louriston’s story that’s sure to put a cheesy grin on your face!

The Story

What began as a family-owned crop and beef farm all the way back in 1939, has grown into a multi-faceted, ever-changing partnership. In the mid-1970s, the family farm business was incorporated under the name of Riverview. This new company continued farming and raising beef cattle for two decades until 1995 when the company’s business structure changed to a partnership.  This new structure allowed several community members to invest in the new 800-head dairy operation, complete with a double-24 parallel parlor. Over the following years, the vision of an adaptable, integrated agricultural operation continued to grow as more dairy operations, beef feedlots, agronomy systems, and construction crews were added. Today, Riverview as a whole is predominantly owned by it’s employees! These employees are constantly striving to provide a respectful, ethical work environment, ensure animal health and comfort, enhance the productivity of the land, and add value to the communities in which they live and work.

Riverview’s Louriston dairy is full of passionate, forward-thinking people.  Their farm size allows them to focus on their individual expertise to best care for the cattle, people and their land.  The cattle in their care are treated respectfully and provided with everything they need.  This includes quality feed, clean and adequate water, plenty of space for resting and moving, and a stress-free environment in all areas of the farm. Providing a quality and safe product for consumption is important to the team at Louriston, which is why they raise all of their own cattle. Calves are born on the farm and raised to be dairy cows. 100% of their milk is used to make cheese… yum!

Today, Riverview’s Louriston dairy works with multiple cheese processors.  Bongards Cheese is the only “Brand” you would find at the grocery store; however, you might come across their cheese elsewhere.  For starters, some of their cheese could be found with a “Kraft” label on it.  Other cheese they make can even be found on your burger at Burger King or McDonald’s.  Have you been to a Pizza Ranch recently?  If so, some of their cheese might even be on your pizza.  Some of the lactose sold from the cheese processing is also found in MARS M&M’s and other candy.  One of the processors Louriston works with even sells cheese for the Nacho Cheese Dorito powder! Clearly they are providing a quality product which is reflected in the brands they support. It is evident that the verification guidelines the operation follows and their dedication to their employees sets them apart in a very competitive industry.

Verification 

Today, Riverview’s Louriston location participates in the Validus Animal Welfare Review Dairy (AWRD) verification process.  Remember, Validus is a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc.  The Validus program includes comprehensive audits and assessments to ensure proper practices when it comes to the animal’s well-being and environment.  The program requires ongoing auditing and recertification on an annual basis.  In addition to being Validus certified, they also implemented their own program on the farm called Be Kind.  The goal of the program is to reinforce the commitment to the well-being of their animals.  At Riverview’s Louriston dairy, animal care is essential for the viability of their business. Their focus is to provide essential ongoing training to all employees to ensure animal care it taken very seriously.

Why Verify?

Each year farmers find better ways to care for their livestock, and Riverview’s Louriston dairy is no exception.  Technology has played a key role in enhancing farm and livestock care.  This means providing the best living environment for the livestock.  Through the partnership with Validus, they have been able to stay informed of new guidelines and processes that help keep their farm top notch.  What Validus does for consumers is important because it helps tell the story of where their food originates and the process it goes through.  As farmers, they have always been dedicated to livestock care, environmental stewardship, food safety, quality, and employee care. They feel it is important to work with Validus to help educate consumers and provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions about their food.

At Riverview’s Louriston dairy, passion is key to their success.  They believe humane treatment of their livestock is a passion, an attitude, and a necessity.  They strive to have employees and owners that are passionate about agriculture, farming, and their communities.  To learn more about this innovative group of farmers be sure to visit their website or follow them on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

WFCF Storybit : Chickapea

With the holidays quickly approaching, we’ve been thinking about all of our favorite foods.  Some of which may not be the healthiest (we’re looking at you, pasta!), but during the holidays, those rules don’t seem to apply.  When thinking of comfort foods, you don’t think about the health benefits, or lack thereof.  Instead, you likely have a sentimental feeling or nostalgic memory that resonates with you.  So, what’s the meal that gives you a little taste of home?  Pasta is one that definitely falls under that category for us.  This week we are sharing the story of Chickapea, a pasta company that provides a healthy spin on pasta, something you can feel good about eating!  There is no reason to sacrifice convenience or taste for your health and Chickapea Pasta is helping lead that charge. Let’s learn more about their vertified pasta’s that are delicious and health with every bite.

The Chickapea Story

Shelby Taylor was born and raised in Collingwood, a small town in Ontario, and it is also where she started her journey to create healthy meals everyone could enjoy. During college, Shelby studied journalism and worked as a magazine editor.  She would review stories across all topics, but she found herself drawn to articles about food.  These were not your typical food articles about the latest burger shack opening up but instead these articles talked about how food was produced and the environmental impacts.

Fueled by her newfound interest, Shelby began actively studying nutrition. However, she quickly realized this passion for healthy food was more than just a fleeting hobby. After leaving her corporate job, Shelby got married and purchased a local health-food store.  Shortly after purchasing the store Shelby found out she was pregnant with her first child. Needless to say, she had a “full plate” and wasn’t planning on slowing down.

While this new chapter felt more aligned with her deeper purpose, Shelby couldn’t turn off her entrepreneurial brain.  She began noticing that many of her store’s customers were struggling to find nutritious meal options that were convenient and family friendly. A journalist by trade, Shelby began interviewing her customers and discovered pasta was a natural go-to for parents who wanted to make a fast, crowd-pleasing dish for the whole family. So, what was the problem? It was also accompanied by feelings of guilt since pasta is traditionally low in nutritional value and full of empty carbs. Shelby thought, why couldn’t pasta be good for you and delicious?  Something the whole family could feel good about.

Driven by this idea, Shelby and her mom began experimenting in a local commercial kitchen to develop a prototype of what would eventually become Chickapea. To fund this innovation, Shelby turned to Kickstarter and exceeded her $25,000 goal. The company officially launched in 2016 with a leading organic specialty food distributor, Neal Brothers Foods. Less than a year later, Chickapea expanded into the U.S.

In 2019, the line now includes five pasta shapes made from only chickpeas and lentils (spirals, penne, shells, spaghetti, and linguine) and another healthy version of a family favorite, Vegan Mac, with macaroni elbows and a savory sweet potato and pumpkin sauce.

Chickapea’s mission is to create good for the world through nutritious, organic meal options and impactful social contributions. Inspired by her two little sons who “remind her every day what is truly important in life,” Shelby believes it’s Chickapea’s duty to set a positive example for her community and the world.

Verification Programs

Where Food Comes From is the Technical Administrator for Chickapea’s Non-GMO Project Certification. When Shelby and team first looked into the Non-GMO project there was only a small handful participating and now that program has grown extensively.  Chickapea is also proud to be a Certified Women Owned Business!  Today, their products can be found on the shelves of more than 3500 stores across North America.

Why is verification important to Chickapea?

Verification programs and certifications show consumers that they can trust Chickapea to meet their values and dietary needs.  Consumers—especially Millennials and Gen Z—are paying closer attention to where their food comes from and the impact it has on their health and the planet, and rightfully so. They expect transparency and increasingly choose to align themselves with mission-driven brands. In an era of conscious consumers, verification programs allow brands to give the transparency expected of them, confirm that they practice what they preach, and set themselves apart from their competitors. Seeing these trusted verification logos on our products gives our consumers the peace of mind that the food they’re purchasing meets their health and dietary requirements and aligns with their values. 

Learn more about Chickapea!

WFCF Storybit : Waverly Foster Farm

As a consumer, we often hear a lot of words that end up being “buzz words.”  For many, the sound of words like “hemp” and “CBD” fall into the “buzz word” category until recently. However, the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill has move
d hemp out of that category and into what is now a household word.  Many are coming to know hemp and hemp-based products for their many beneficial uses and for their fast-growing popularity.

This week we introduce you to Waverly Foster Farm.  Waverly Foster Farm is a 50+ year legacy farm currently producing Organic Hemp Biomass in beautiful Ft. Collins, Colorado. Their hemp biomass product can be used for a number of different final products from CBD to CBG tinctures, capsules and salves. There are many steps involved to get to those final products, so let’s start at the beginning : farming!

Their Story

John Foster knows a lot about growing up on a farm. Since 1976, he grew up assisting his self-described “hippy” parents who had a passion for helping “Mother Earth.”  Early on, his mother ensured that their farm would not spray for weeds or pollute their farm with any chemicals.

John eventually left the farm to pursue other things, but his father soon approached him about returning to help them grow hemp. At first, John thought his father was out of his mind. Grow hemp? Could he really make a living out of this? John decided to do some extensive research about the industry.  He found himself strongly considering leaving the corporate consulting train and returning to the farm he was raised on.  John was always up for a challenge and loved seeking out new knowledge, and this felt like a calling – a way to keep himself young at heart and of mind and engaged with life. John was also considered a people person and enjoyed the thought of connecting and sharing his knowledge with others, as well as having the opportunity to learn a few new things along the way.

Two years ago, John officially decided to make the move into the hemp industry.  He immediately sensed a disparity within the hemp community and a lack of trust with consumers. Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill passing, John was struggling to see what the future would hold for him and this new industry. He knew there was a better way to bring hemp farmers together around verification and farming best practices.

John knew that education would be key to connecting with consumers.  This is why Waverly Foster Farms is a learning and educational farm that is dedicated to finding the simplest and most sustainable ways to grow the best crops without chemicals or preservatives. While there is still so much consumer education to be done, Waverly Foster Farms is making great progress.

Today, Waverly Foster Farms supports a supply chain in the wellness products space – CBD tinctures and other products.  John knows that new uses are still being found for the hemp plant that already touts hundreds of uses, most in the wellness space. The exciting part is, John and team are at the forefront and hope to accelerate wellness across the globe as it relates to hemp and hemp-based products.

Verification Programs

Waverly Foster Farms is located in Colorado, so they have to abide by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) Pilot Hemp program.  This program is rigorously managed, and they must remain compliant with the guidelines.  In addition, maintaining constant communication with the local CDA representative for both Planting and Harvest reports.  Their crops are also tested frequently and must remain below the Federally mandated < .3 THC rating.

John and his farming team wanted to take verification even further, so they immediately sought after the Certified Organic designation. Growing up with parents who were free spirited and had a deep connection to the Earth, he knew Waverly Foster Farms had to be Certified Organic.  So, John began the verification process with paperwork and onsite inspections – and boy, did he learn A LOT!  John decided he could help educate others on within the hemp industry.  He began building an educational framework that followed all the things he encountered during the season, such as understanding the field and documenting changes.  He was transferring his planning skills and showing how efficiencies paired with data tracking can help farmers improve their product.  

Why is being Certified Organic Important to Waver Foster Farms?

If you haven’t noticed, John is a big supporter of educating his community and the industry. He has seen first-hand the challenges that exist when consumers are not properly informed of the products they purchase.  John wants to be part of the efforts to provide consumers transparency about the products they use for themselves and their families.  It’s not easy being a farmer, but the benefit of providing products that consumers can trust is well worth it for John and Wavery Foster Farm.

If you would like to learn more about John and Waverly Foster Farm be sure to check out their website.

 

 

 

 

 

Studying Abroad with Celiac Disease – A College Student’s Study Abroad Experience

Kiley Decker, Where Food Comes From’s recent summer intern, spent her Spring 2019 semester studying abroad for the first time in her collegiate career.  However, unlike most college students, her decision was harder because she has Celiac Disease, which makes cooking, let alone traveling and eating out, slightly more difficult to accomplish.  Kiley recently submitted her story to the National Celiac Association (NCA), which they featured in their recent newsletter.  Learn more about Kiley’s experience as she discusses her experience of finding Gluten Free (GF) restaurants abroad – as well as the favorite places she found along the way!

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Hi! My name is Kiley and I recently arrived back from studying abroad for a semester in Barcelona, Spain. This was an experience of a lifetime and I definitely did not let having celiac disease (CD) hold me back. There were some difficult times, which is expected, but also some moments when you don’t want to leave a restaurant because you are just amazed by the gluten-free food.

Getting Started

Deciding to study abroad for several months can be an exciting, yet overwhelming decision especially when you have celiac disease. Where do you even start? Through my research, and based on what my University offered, I decided to travel with a third-party program, American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). There are different types of living accommodations, including homestays, dorms, apartments, and everything in between. Although a homestay would be culturally enriching, I was not ready to trust a foreign home to meet my diet restrictions. I chose to live in an apartment so I could cook my own meals in our kitchen. This was extremely helpful and a huge money saver. The grocery stores actually had a decent amount of gluten-free food. Something to be aware of is sharing pans with your roommates. My roommates were always cooking pasta so I stayed away from using the pots because I didn’t want to buy a new one for one semester. Before you begin your travels, make sure you know what “gluten-free” is in other languages. In Barcelona, the items in the grocery stores were mainly Catalan with some Spanish, sin/sem/sense gluten.

Challenges

The hardest part for me was probably the first week or two. It is like going to college all over again and trying to make friends. This also entails describing how I have CD and I need a gluten-free diet. I got all of the questions over again… what is gluten? Can you eat this? What happens if you eat gluten? Do you ever want to cheat?

One of my biggest concerns was how I was going to get protein. At home and traveling in the U.S., I always have peanut butter as a quick snack. Before I left, I heard that there was no peanut butter in Europe, only us crazy Americans eat that! This is slightly true, in all of the grocery stores I went in in Barcelona, I found it in one store, and it was extremely expensive. I found plenty of other food to fill that void.

Barcelona Favorites

Restaurants:

Gula Sana: One of my favorite restaurants in Barcelona was Gula Sana. They had delicious breakfast options and sandwiches, but they also had yummy bakery items. This restaurant was dedicated gluten-free so I had no worries!

L’Arroseria Xativa: Barcelona is known for their paella, so I obviously needed to try it out. This restaurant had gluten-free labeled on their menu. This is on the pricier side, but that fresh seafood paella is definitely worth it!

Other celiac safe restaurants: M2 Gluten Free, Flax and Kale, Honest Greens, Cal Marius 449

Bakeries:

Pastiseria Jansana Gluten Free: This was my go-to bakery. Okay I must admit, I may have gone a little too much. I tried it one day and these were some of the BEST bakery items I had ever had so obviously I wanted to try it all! Tip: the cinnamon rolls were my favorite!

Pasticelia: I found this bakery the last week I was there, which was probably a good thing, because it was delicious! Scones and chocolate croissants galore! This bakery was dedicated gluten-free as well.

Weekend Trips

I met an awesome group of friends that were understanding of my dietary needs. We took weekend trips to different cities and countries. I never traveled without a few emergency protein bars in my purse or bag. Some cities were harder than others. There were definitely a few times I lived off of salads, but this was partially my decision.

I am more of a go with the flow type of person, so there were a few times where I would go to a restaurant with my friends and not be able to eat. After we finished, I would just run in a grocery store real quick and grab a salad or some substantial food. There were of course a few times when I dragged my friends to gluten-free restaurants.

Throughout most of Europe, they generally use very fresh ingredients. I found that most restaurants do not add any gluten ingredients in their sauces, but it is always good to check. I highly recommend traveling with the “Gluten-Free Dining Cards”. Although I can speak Spanish, I carried one in my purse just in case. The time that this card was needed for me was in Morocco, Africa. The card was in Arabic and the server definitely understood what it said and brought the card back to the chef. Their food was so freshly cooked, I did not have a problem.

I went on a few trips organized through the study abroad program and these were probably the hardest. We were traveling with a group of students, sometimes it was around 50 people. Obviously, I did not have a say in what restaurants we ate at, so I packed extra snacks and protein bars. And yes, my friends slightly made fun of me for always being prepared, but hey, I would rather be prepared than starving! Also, I needed to be very straight forward with the program directors and let them know how serious my dietary needs were, before the trips I always sent a reminder email.

Communicate!

The most important part about having CD is not being afraid to communicate with everyone, whether it is your friends, a program leader, chefs, or a random roommate pairing. As I mentioned, I went on some program led trips, during these I realized my dietary needs were a new concept to some trip leaders. I found that giving the leader a Gluten-Free Dining Card worked best, it explained everything and they had it in writing for reference.  Just telling them was taking a chance as to what they would remember or how they would translate it. I brought extra cards in a few languages where I thought I might be traveling so I didn’t have to worry about asking for the cards back.

Weekend Trip Favorites

Rome, Italy: La Pasticciera

The morning we got to Rome, we checked into our hostel and wanted to start our exploring until we realized we were starving! I quickly googled what GF options were around and to my surprise, a dedicated gluten-free bakery was right below us! (My friends thought I planned this on purpose!) They had everything from sandwiches, pizza, cookies, cakes, croissants, and my favorite, a true Italian cannoli!

Rome, Italy: Mama Eat Roma

Italy can be a tricky place when it comes to celiac safe restaurants. This staff takes GF very seriously and it is the BEST pizza I have ever had… EVER. It is located in a very quaint Italian village, just off the beaten path, but absolutely worth the walk!

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland: Friðheimar Greenhouse

The whole atmosphere and experience of the restaurant is worth the trip. The seating area is right inside the tomato greenhouse that grows a large portion of Iceland’s tomatoes. If that’s not cool enough, they use all Earth-friendly technology and even have their own bee hives to pollinate the plants! Now for the food, they have delicious, fresh tomato soup and gluten-free bread.

Palma de Mallorca: St. Lorenzo Tapas

This restaurant staff was basically my second family. They were so kind and their whole restaurant is GF. They have GF croquettes, one of Spain’s staple tapas, calamari, pizza, pasta and so much more.

London, England: Leon at King’s Cross Station

Sometimes travel days can be the hardest part. Leon had GF clearly marked on their menu with a dedicated fryer (chicken nuggets and fries). There are also salads and chicken and rice bowls available. They ask everyone when they place their order if they have an allergy.

How did I find all of these AMAZING restaurants? The majority of them came from my searches on the Find Me GF app. This app gave a lot of options, but I realized there was so much more. One of the most successful things I found was to search on Instagram. For most cities, there is an account, such as Gluten Free Barcelona, or the hashtag #glutenfreebarcelona, and there are several celiac friendly recommendations in those posts. Remember, if you find a GF restaurant, put it on the Find Me GF app so others can easily find it!

Don’t let having celiac disease stop you, go travel the world! Try everything, don’t be a picky eater while you are traveling. You never know what new flavors might surprise you. If you have any questions, I would be more than willing to help. I am off to my next adventure for an internship in Denver, CO! So far this is a great city for GF!

Now that I have made you hungry, GO TRAVEL THE WORLD!

About Me – Kiley!

I am from Norwell, MA and was diagnosed at age 11 with celiac disease along with sister who was 8 and brother who was 13. I am currently a Senior at Coastal Carolina University studying Marketing with a Spanish minor. I played Division 1 lacrosse at CCU for two years, but made the decision to stop playing in order to study abroad in Spain this past semester!

Follow me on Instagram: @justglutenfreethings