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!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

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!

 

 

WFCF Storybit : Regatta Craft Mixers

From sophisticated and classic to a fruity tiki drink, cocktails come in all colors, flavors, and styles.  In fact, they’ve become so popular that many places are creating special holiday cocktail menus.  Don’t you love when your cocktail comes with a fun garnish? Maybe a pickle or olives, editable glitter or even the classic tiki umbrella? Not only do you want them to look nice but the more important detail is for them to taste amazing.  One important step is picking the right high-quality mixer to make the perfect cocktail.  Regatta Craft Mixers paired with your preferred spirit, delivers the perfect recipe for a delicious drink. Here’s the best part, they participate in the Non-GMO Project verification program!  Did we “spike” your interest yet? Let’s learn more about their story, and why they choose to verify!

The Story

In the early 2000’s, industry veteran, Stan Rottell, wanted to bring a more versatile ginger beer to the beverage market. He wanted something that would wow your taste buds. This new ginger beer would go beyond the iconic ‘Dark & Stormy’ cocktail and mix creatively with a wider range of spirits. In 2006, Stan’s vision became reality when he launched Regatta Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer. This new ginger beer became an instant favorite among bartenders and bar owners.  It was even instrumental in bringing back the iconic Moscow Mule.

 In 2016, Stan retired and sold Regatta Ginger Beer to the current owner, Affinity Beverages LLC. Affinity is aggressively investing capital and infusing new resources and energy into product development, sales expansion and marketing, which is allowing their team to be more agile and reactive to the evolving beverage marketplace.

With the recent explosion of premium craft spirits and cocktails, they knew the time was right to offer other high-quality mixers that pair with today’s preferred spirits. Earlier this year they launched several new flavors! Royal Oak Ginger Ale – excellent when paired with Bourbon, Dry Citrus Sparkling Tonic that elevates the gin cocktail experience, Light Ginger Beer – great combined with vodka for a tasty yet slim version of the popular mule cocktail and Pacific Sea Salt Club Soda– sharp, crisp and refreshing, creating just the right balance of flavor and carbonation.  Now those sound like delicious cocktails to us!

Verification

Regatta Craft Mixers are made with only the best natural ingredients curated from around the world and then crafted in small batches – just as their award-winning Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer has been made since 2006. They contain no artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, are non-GMO, BPA and gluten-free and are all made right here in the U.S.

Currently, Regatta participates in the Non-GMO Project verification program.  Regatta says the Non-GMO Project verification is very important to them because it gives consumers (and them!) the guarantee that their ingredients are all-natural and not genetically modified. These know that these qualifications are important to today’s consumers and also to their brand.

“Where Food Comes From, Inc. was instrumental in helping us obtain our Non-GMO Project verified status, which is now displayed on all of the slim can products.” says Regatta.

They have since launched their slim cans in grocery outlets across the country, many of which require this designation to be considered for distribution.  Regatta is currently exploring other verification programs for 2020.

Go Regatta, or go home!

The range of their offerings meets consumer’s desire for healthier, authentic mixers that make more interesting cocktails without sacrificing quality and taste. Regatta Craft Mixers have something for every drinking occasion, whether they are looking to unwind in refined relaxation or to quench their thirst with a refreshing indulgence.

Whether you’re sitting on the patio at your home or socializing at a BBQ, these mixers are sure to add that spark to your cocktail.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

To learn more about Regatta, click HERE.
To learn more about Where Food Comes From, click HERE.

 

 

Honey Girl Organics

Each week we bring you the stories behind your food because transparency matters to you today more than ever before. This also means that people are becoming more conscious of the lifestyle choices they are making for themselves and their families.  Think about the products you put, not just into your body, but onto your body.  If you’re mindful about the food you eat, the next logical step is to start seeking an understanding about what you’re putting on your skin.  You’re already asking what’s in your kitchen pantry so let’s start checking the bathroom cabinet too.

The Story

Used as a term of endearment, Honey Girl Organics, entered the beauty market in 2006.  Created by Anthony Maxfield, Gwen Maxfield and Christina Sirlin, they sought out to design a chemical-free moisturizer.  This led to Anthony experimenting with honey, beeswax, and olive oil.  After a few broken blenders, he came up with a nail and cuticle crème.  They quickly discovered that honey and beeswax had great rejuvenating properties, perfect for a moisturizer.  For years, the three would create creams for themselves and their friends. Their dedication to creating natural products, coupled with the Green Beauty Movement, helped them create their brand.  Today, Honey Girl Organics can be found in more than 400 stores across the country, which includes our friends at Whole Foods.

The Products

So, what does Honey Girl Organics offer?  Glad you asked.  They offer a wide range of products from facial scrubs, serums, creams, toners, lip balm, and even a facial wash.  They also cater to those individuals that have sensitive skin.  The best part about their products is they are completely transparent about what goes into their skincare.  No surprises here! If you’re unsure about what products to use or if it will work for your skin, they offer a sample pack of your choosing.  To see a full list of their products and to do a little shopping yourself, check out their product page.

Verification

Honey Girl Organics is, you guessed it, USDA Certified Organic, which means the product is 95% or more Organic. In order to be Certified Organic the product must be all natural, no synthetic chemicals, and contain no pesticides.  Honey Girl Organic’s products have no parabens, hormones, silicones, petroleum products, artificial preservatives, filler or other unnatural additives in their manufacturing.  They work diligently to maintain their certifications and provide the most effective and safe skin care possible.

Check out their video “Bees to Beauty” to learn more.

 

 

WFCF Storybit : Eagle Rock Ranch

The Eagle Rock Story

The Eagle Rock Ranch story is one of a first-generation ranching family that started with a dream and dedication.  Dave and Jean Gottenborg, who met as wranglers on a dude ranch back in the mid ‘70s, have wanted to own a ranch for as long as they can remember.  That dream became a reality when they purchased Eagle Rock Ranch, located just west of Denver, CO in Jefferson, after Dave retired in 2012.  While neither him nor Jean had a ranching background, they knew they could make it work! Through ranch classes offered at Colorado State University, hiring good ranch hands, surrounding themselves with like-minded ranchers and a deep rooted passion for this endeavor, they were able to transform Eagle Rock Ranch into what it is today.  Eagle Rock Ranch is also a proud member of the Country Natural Beef Co-op.

The ranch itself is situated at 9,000 feet elevation in the Colorado High Country in central Colorado.  The ranch straddles Tarryall Creek, located in the Terryall Valley, which in their opinion, is one of the most beautiful and scenic high mountain valleys in the entire United States. This is where their cattle are born, raised and spend virtually all of their life.  The Tarryall Valley has been designated as a National Rural Historic District and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places as well as the Colorado State Registry of Historic Properties.  Eagle Rock Ranch has even been assigned a Smithsonian Institute identification number of 5PA.4467. With all the added history, the Gottenborg’s are truly living out their dream on Eagle Rock Ranch.

Dave and Jean have two children, Drew and Erin.  Now all grown up, Drew and his family visit on weekends when they can, and Erin, along with her husband and three kids, are weekend warriors on the ranch.  She says she never dreamed her parents would own a ranch.  She grew up riding horses and was an avid 4H member. She remembers the days of renting backyard barns from neighbors where she would keep her horses. She too dreamed of a day where she would have her own horse barn.

Now, fast forward about 25 years, Erin loves watching her children, and her nieces and nephews, experiencing the ranch at such a young age.  She is continuously in awe of the ranch and can’t believe this is where she gets to make a life and enjoy her passion. 

 

 

 

Verification Programs  

Today, Eagle Rock Ranch participates in numerous verification programs. They are a proud to be Beef Quality Assurance certified, as well as verified as Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) and Verified Natural Beef programs through IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc.

They believe that having exposure to these programs is what helps them produce their high-quality, Verified Natural, grass-fed Black Angus beef that they are so proud to offer consumers.  They even recently started offering “Eagle Rock Ranch” branded beef that consumers can order from them directly.

Happy Cattle, Happy Life

It’s obvious that Eagle Rock Ranch focuses on sustainability and quality.  In fact, throughout their ranch you’ll see signs that say, “Quality in Everything We Do,” because that’s exactly what they strive for.  They pride themselves in the way they treat their animals and take no short cuts when it comes to the care of the ranch and treat their animals with the respect they deserve.  They are constantly reminding themselves that “happy cows produce great tasting meat,” which is why they feed their cattle the protein rich natural grasses, let them drink from cool mountain run off water, and breath fresh mountain air. They believe this is key to creating a superior product for consumers, and they look forward to what’s to come.

Learn more about Eagle Rock Ranch here.
Learn more about Where Food Comes From here.

 

 

CRSB Driving Sustainability Within the Canadian Beef Industry

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Framework 

Sustainability – in terms of food production, you may have heard it associated with organic foods or when “farm-to-table” is discussed, but this sustainability goes beyond that. While it means something different to everyone, it’s definitely has a focus around reducing waste, decreasing packaging and limiting processed foods.  Basically, eliminating the negative environmental consequences and providing you a cleaner food product.  With the help of groups and communities like the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB), the food industry continues to move toward a more sustainable future.  This week we head North to take a look at CRSB and provide a look at what this community of stakeholders has dedicated to in order continue producing food sustainably, specifically their Certified Sustainable Beef Framework certification.

Who They Are?

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) is made up of multiple collaborative stakeholders in the Canadian Beef industry.  These members are comprised of organizations across the beef value chain and beyond. From ranchers, academic institutions, foodservice companies to non-government associations, these members all share the same vision to change the beef industry.  They take pride in being socially responsible, economically viable, environmentally sound and not only prioritizing the people, but the planet and animals too.

Today, the CRSB has adopted five specific guiding principles for its dedication and work in Canada. These core principles include natural resources, food, people and the community, animal welfare, innovation and efficiency.  Each of these helps define beef sustainability.  This allows the group to identify opportunities for improvement and highlight areas where the industry is excelling.  CRSB certification gives producers the proof they are doing things right.

The CRSB Certified Sustainable Beef Framework Certification

Closing the gap between certified food and consumer demand is quite the task.  So how is the gap closed?  By certifying more food producers, ranchers, and farmers. Where Food Comes From partners with CRSB to educate producers about the importance of verification and the process that goes along with it.  The Certified Sustainable Beef Framework is a certification standard that certifies farms, ranches and processing facilities.   This gives them the ability to carry a certified sustainable operation label. They also assist the retail and the food service industry with their sustainable beef sourcing efforts. To you, the consumer, this means that credible transparent messaging about your food is occurring through marketing efforts and product labeling.

Developed with multiple purposes in mind, the framework balances consumer needs while advancing beef sustainability in Canada.  This includes recognizing best practices in the industry, supporting supply chains interested in making the move, and avoiding duplicated efforts when it comes to verifying operations.

Certification

In order to get certified, ranches must follow specific steps outlined by the CRSB. These steps are outlined below:

  • Inform– Track records and engage with current CRSB materials
  • Engage– Gather necessary information, agree on date, start audit preparations
  • Audit/Certify – Conduct audit and review report. Respond to any corrective actions
  • Maintain– Audit cycle is 5 years. Maintain your certificate with annual surveillance requirements
  • Improve – Engage in audit cycle and identify opportunities for improvement

Once results of the audit are reviewed, a certificate is issued or corrective actions are issued to be completed within a specific amount of time.  The CRSB helps support each of these steps by providing the indicators that are audited, lists of requirements, and how to communicate to the public once they are certified.  This is truly a collaborative process. CRSB is enabling consumers to purchase sustainably sourced products because of their transparency and education. They are raising the bar when it comes to sustainable beef.

To learn more about CRSB check out this video.

Where to find CRSB Certified food?

While the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework certification is new, it is quickly taking off.  Just recently Harvey’s was added to the list of approved food chains to take part in the program.  McDonald’s, Loblaws, Swiss Chalet, Original Joe’s and Cactus Club are also partners in the sustainable beef pilot program.

 

 

 

Blockchain In The Food Industry

Since the first day our founders wandered onto a ranch and convinced our first customer we could improve their operation by using computers and data analysis, Where Food Comes From has continued to look for applications of technology within the food industry.  Automating processes at a ranch or feedlot, experimenting with drones, digitizing stock and utilizing cloud-based data management platforms are all innovative ways you can keep an eye on an operation.

But today, we take a look into Blockchain – the newest buzzword you keep hearing about!   So, what is blockchain?  To keep it simple, a “blockchain” is a type of cloud-based database that stores data records.  For all things food related, a blockchain would begin with a food producer submitting information into this database – a food producer could be a tomato or lettuce grower, a cattle or pig producer or even a flower farmer!  As their products move through the supply chain to the retailer, new data would be uploaded along the way and by the time it made it’s way to a retail store, they’d be able to trace it back to the producer.

So, while blockchain technology clearly enables a whole host of new data sharing capabilities post-production, it will also intensify the importance of verifying data at the point of production.

Over the past few years our teams have been fielding several questions regarding blockchain as it relates to the food industry and, as with a number of technology improvements before it, we’ve kept a keen eye on this revolutionary technology. In many ways, blockchain is unique and will no doubt change how information is exchanged among stakeholders of any supply chain. One thing however has become abundantly clear and that is as blockchain enables new data sharing capabilities after a producer ships off their product, it will also intensify the importance of ensuring that the data that was submitted is accurate.


Advantages to Blockchains in the Food Industry  

First, they will enable various stakeholders to both add to, as well as view, elements of a products journey from production to consumption. Instead of getting a whole bunch of systems to talk to one another, blockchain solutions offer a data layer that can sit across all of them.

This is powerful because currently, a product moves through many different systems and databases as it makes it’s way from a producer to a processor to a retail store.  This current reality makes it difficult to share information along the way, as each system requires a link to another, or heaven forbid requires someone to repetitively enter the data at each step manually. Blockchain can automate this, which would optimize costs and effort along the way.  The journey through the supply chain will be more detailed than ever with the combined advances in electronic tagging and labeling that enables location, temperature and proximity and more to be known. These details will empower all forms of continuous improvement along the way.

Blockchain solutions will also enable consumer and retail visibility of a products journey like never before. Retailers will be able to tell the story of a true farm-to-table journey in such a way that has not been done before. There are still several industry challenges at the processor level where much is turned into individual shelf-ready packages, however having a chain-wide platform may very well enable solutions through that step.

Second, tracking blockchain data is done in such a way that is referred to as “immutable,” meaning that no single party can change the history of the data. Blockchain keeps a public record of everything that is entered into it – and it is important to note that the data submitted is not currently verified by anyone except the person that is submitting it.

For instances of public safety and having an indisputable, or at least publicly agreeable, record that is immediately available through a digital interface could be a game-changer for many industries that lack this sort of visibility. For companies and other large entities that desire immediate real-time visibility of an entire supply-chain, this too is a solution to an age-old problem of needing to see the stops that were made along the way to its final destination.


Looking ahead

Now, to be fair, this is a simple summary of the key elements of what blockchain will enable or improve over existing systems.  In our experience however, any technology that enables greater and more fluid data transference among stakeholders, tends to define and create new avenues of business previously unimagined.

One thing that all of this suggests is that the value of this data will increase exponentially as the data is shared more broadly. As blockchain solutions revolutionize how data is tracked and propagated, the need for that data to be verified and confirmed to be true, will grow exponentially as well, especially when data entered into a record is shared with all stakeholders in an unalterable fashion.

MN Farm Living Discuss ‘Why Pig Farmers Are Audited’ In Recent Blog Post – Read More!

Audits are very common in business. When we think of audits, we think of banks, taxes, businesses for sales tax, etc. Especially anything that has to do with finances. But did you know pig farmers are audited? In fact, multiple types of “audits?” Let me tell you about the types of audits we do on our farm.

Continue reading Wanda’s blog here. . .