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

 

 

WFCF Storybit : ProNutz

It’s Friday and we are bringing you another exciting edition of our Where Food Comes From Storybit blog! This week we get to explore a treat unlike any other, a treat that takes pistachios from a local California family farm and turns them into something even more interesting, healthy and delicious than normal pistachios – and who doesn’t already love pistachios?!  We’d like to introduce you to ProNutz, the company behind a very different kind of mouthwatering snack food!

The ProNutz Story

While finishing up her last year of law school in 2013, Shauna Ahmadian had the passionate, brilliant idea for ProNutz.  During her last semester, Shauna felt that her calling was elsewhere. The calling that she felt led her back to her roots and her family’s pistachio farm in Bakersfield, California. But Shauna didn’t just jump right into the family business.  Instead, she felt compelled to utilize her family’s pistachios by entering an untapped area of the food industry. Everyone loves pistachios, so she wanted to come up with a line of pistachios that were different than what the current market was offering. Shauna started coming up with different ideas and then the lightbulb went off.  Why not add probiotics to the pistachios? At the time, probiotics were just starting to make its way into the market, primarily in supplement forms.  Some yogurts and drinks had started to add it to their recipes as well, but no one was adding probiotics into other types of foods.

The following weekend, Shauna went to Costco and purchased a pound of pistachios, chocolate and probiotics.  She immediately went to work like a mad scientist, trying to formulate the perfect recipe. Her mother’s kitchen quickly turned into her test lab.  After several attempts, she ended up with a batch of chocolate covered pistachios with added probiotics. Everyone was pleasantly surprised how tasty the final product was. Once she figured out that it was doable, she contacted a food chemist, so she could finalize and fine tune the recipe.

Fast forward six months and Shauna was sitting in a warehouse with more than two thousand pounds of chocolate yogurt covered pistachios. This was a great start, but there was one problem.   Shauna didn’t have the slightest idea about all the ends and outs of the food industry, nor did she know how to get her product into the hands of consumers. She may have lacked some experience, but there were two things she was good at, never giving up and figuring out ways in, even when all the doors were closed. Despite some doubting her and implying that she may fail; she used that negativity to push her forward.

Over the course of the next five years, she added five new flavors, and managed to distribute products in Japan and Canada in addition to selling direct across the United States. One of the biggest hurdles was getting products into distribution in the US. retail stores.  The stores would take your product if you were in distribution, but distributors wouldn’t take your product if you weren’t in retail stores. Sounds confusing, right?  After years and years of trying, ProNutz finally started distributing in March 2018,.

Verification Matters

After receiving the first welcome email from her distributors, Shauna knew they needed to get certified.  They knew their ingredients were top notch, and that Non-GMO certification was in demand, so she looked into the Non-GMO certifications. After much research, she determined that there was no better way to demonstrate their quality than with the Non-GMO Project verified symbol. So, after even more research, Shauna found ICS, a division of Where Food Comes From, that specializes in Organic and Non-GMO certification.  To be honest, the first time around Shauna was too overwhelmed to commit, but one year later she contacted ICS again and began right where she left off.  She says the ICS team was fantastic to work with, and made it less scary and overwhelming than she originally thought.

Shauna knows that consumers who purchase ProNutz feel confident about snacking on their pistachios and she’s proud that they trust her product. Keep both your gut and your taste buds happy by snacking on ProNutz!  Don’t forget, not only are they healthy and tasty, but you’re also supporting a small business AND a dream.  So next time, forget the chips and grab a tasty and healthy alternative – a bag of ProNutz!

With love from the team at ProNutz, they hope their products find their way from their farms to your homes!  Be sure to follow ProNutz on their social media pages below and check out their website to learn more about their delicious product.

Instagram – @pronutzofficial
Facebook – Pronutz
Twitter- @pronutz1

WFCF Storybit : Trail Truffles – Let’s Hit the Trail!

Most of us have a busy lifestyle, a lifestyle that can include kids, work, personal hobbies or perhaps all three.  Sometimes you get so caught up in your activities that you forget to grab a snack and quickly find yourself in that state between hungry and angry, widely known as “hangry.” No one wants to be in the hangry state.  When you grab that on-the-go snack it’s probably not giving you all the nutrients or energy you really need. So, then you find yourself regretting the small bag of cheese puffs you just devoured.  Well, we have a solution!  We recently had the pleasure of meeting one of our customers face-to-face at our Expo East Reception, and their snack was a favorite by many!  A snack that is both convenient and nutritious – Trial Truffles!  Today, we hit the trails with Casey Zaugg, Chief Truffle Officer at Trail Truffles, and see why these high protein bites should be a part of your snack rotation.

The Story 

Years ago, Casey was competing in a 100K mountain bike race with about 10 miles remaining and needed some serious fuel to get him across the finish line. The gels and gummies weren’t cutting it and all he had left was a cumbersome energy bar. In 90-degree heat, with every bite he took he found himself trying to wash it down with water.  The entire time thinking to himself, “there’s got to be a better way!”  Casey then realized that there was not a fueling solution in the marketplace that was convenient, portable, healthy and tasty.  So, Casey immediately sprang into action.  After a few years of research and development, his trail-blazing passion led him to create the perfect “clean energy” snack, and Trail Truffles was born.

Yes, there are many fueling options that exist in the market today, but none capture all the characteristics that Trail Truffles does, which makes them so unique. Their non-melting, non-freezing chocolate shell, with an indulgent filling is unlike other mixes.  It provides the decadence of a dark chocolate truffle, all the while being easy to eat and provides sustained fuel for whatever adventures your life takes you. This is a quick pick-me-up to make it through the afternoon, or a healthful snack for the kiddos, Trail Truffles are designed to be the go-to source of energy that satiates your sweet tooth with healthful ingredients. Their varieties range from coconut macadamia, mint crème, to chocolate hazelnut. Are you taste buds salivating yet?

Casey eventually left the corporate world to follow his passion, the trails.  The entire Trail Truffles team is highly engaged with all things trail related from biking to hiking and more.  The importance of healthy options while out on the trail are paramount to them. Since Trail Truffles were born on the Trail, they absolutely want to deliver a product that meets the strict requirements of the “outdoorsy crowd” as well as the nutritionally minded individual.

In addition to providing a nutritious snack, Casey and team plan to move all of their packaging to compostable and plant-based by 2020 to ensure the only “footprint” their customers leave on the trail is from their boots, not their waste. Casey and team are also working toward a partnership with the National Parks Foundation to give back a percentage of their sales to the trails they use and love.  Their focus is to ensure a legacy of trail stewardship and support.

Verification Programs 

Today, Trail Truffles participates in the Non-GMO Project verification program.  Trail Truffles use simple ingredients with no additives, preservatives, or unpronounceable elements.  Many of the ingredients are naturally high in antioxidants so the Truffles don’t spoil easily.  With the exception of the peanut butter cup, Trail Truffles are paleo friendly, including Whole30 and Keto.  You can purchase the snack pouches online from their store @ www.trailtruffles.com, Amazon, Whole Foods Rocky Mountain region, Earth Fare and many other regional chains. View their entire store listings here.

 

Why Verify?

Trail Truffles wants to be transparent with their customers. Sound familiar? No wonder they partner with Where Food Comes From.  They too understand the importance of sharing their food story.  Casey and team want to communicate to their customers that the ingredients and methods of processing that they use in their product meets the strict verification standards.  This ensures the quality and efficiency of the Trail Truffle product. They want to be a brand that consumers trust.  Happy Trails!