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Boulder Organic! Souping It Up in Colorado

By Lorrie Baumann

Boulder Organic Foods is a fast-growing maker of fresh soups that are sold out of grocers’ refrigerated cases. “We started here locally in Boulder [Colorado] in a handful of stores, and today we’re in more than 2,000 stores nationwide in pretty much every major market in the country,” said CEO Greg Powers. “We are a dedicated organic, gluten free and non-GMO company. Everything we produce reflects those three attributes.”

The company was started just seven years ago by Kate Brown, a single mom who was looking for healthier fresh soup options. She made several shopping trips to local stores looking for a gluten-free soup brand that would meet her own dietary needs and that would also meet her goals for the food she wanted to give her daughter. When she didn’t find any, she decided to make her own.

Boulder Organic Green Chile Corn ChowderAfter she began serving her soups to friends and family, one of those friends referred her products to the local Whole Foods store, which asked her to make the soup for sale there. At that point, she put together a business plan and spent a year or two coming up with recipes for commercial quantities of her soups and launched her new food business in early 2009. Powers joined the company several months later. “I joined her having a background in business, and between the two of us, with her passion and talent for cooking and her skills at coming up with new recipes, and my background in business, we built this company,” he said. “We’ve doubled our size every year since we began. It’s fast growth, but it’s also thoughtful growth. We’ve been very sure to keep the same quality, working with many of the same suppliers we worked with when we started years ago.”

Today, the company makes eight to 12 different soups at any given time – a core set that includes Roasted Tomato Basil, Garden Minestrone, Potato Leek, Red Lentil Dahl and Golden Quinoa and Kale soups, along with a rotating list of seasonal offerings in its SQF level 3 plant in Boulder, Colorado. Three new soups – Tomato Bisque, Broccoli Cheddar and Bacon Potato Corn Chowder – are launching early this month in Target stores.

Boulder Organic! packages most of its soups in 24-ounce containers. The serving size is identified as eight ounces, which works when it’s served as a side dish, but most people will want a bit more than that if they’re eating it as an entree, so in practice, most consumers will regard the 24-ounce container as enough to feed two people, Powers said. For club stores, the 24-ounce containers are bundled into a 2-pack, and Target carries a 16-ounce container.

While some of the Boulder Organic! soups are mostly vegetables with chicken stock in the base, many are vegetarian and a few include animal protein along with the vegetables. The heavy emphasis on vegetables in the ingredient deck is partly a response to the local market in Boulder, Powers said. “We have a very active vegetarian community in Boulder. For our little market, it was a good fit. It was a good way to start the company and produce products that would fit with our community.”

The company maintains its commitment to being a socially responsible woman-owned business, and 2 percent of its production is donated to a local food bank. “We try to treat all of our employees fairly and we have a very flat organizational structure,” Powers said. Employees are paid a living wage, and the company’s operations are zero waste, with everything that isn’t used up being composted or recycled. “We’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint further,” Powers said. “We also take food safety very seriously.”

Going Organic, a Natural Choice for JSL Foods

JSL Foods has announced that it has gained organic certification from Quality Assurance International for products made in its Los Angeles, California, plant. This plant produces Asian noodles, rice, grain and Asian wrappers. Currently five noodle SKUs have been given the “Certified Organic” stamp.

“The word ‘organic’ should stand for something more than just a marketing hype to entice consumers,” said Teiji Kawana, company President. “At JSL Foods, it is a very personal commitment to quality – quality ingredients and quality manufacturing,” he added.

JSL’s two-step process of purchasing organic ingredients and then mixing the formulas goes beyond the processes used by many other organic manufacturing companies.

“We believe it is important that the manufacturing process be certified as well. Organic certification is the only way you can be sure a company’s product truly complies with organic standards,” said Wayne Nielsen, Vice President Sales & Marketing.

The company will continue to add more certified organic products to its line. JSL Foods is a third-generation family-owned business that markets to grocery retail, foodservice and industrial segments with its brands: Fortune, Twin Dragon and JSL Foods Professional Products.

Explore Cuisine to Launch Gluten Free Pad Thai Noodles

Explore Cuisine will be launching its new Thai Rice Noodles at Expo East 2016.  There are two varieties.

Brown rice noodlesBrown Rice Pad Thai Noodles are made with organic, nutrient-rich whole grains. Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles take the guesswork out of gluten-free Asian cooking by providing you with Pad Thai Noodles that are perfectly packed in a 2-ounce package.

Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles utilize nutritious red rice grain for authentic texture. Explore Cuisine’s Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles are a healthy alternative to traditional Pad Thai. With 4g of protein, this three-ingredient Pad Thai pasta is made with whole foods directly from the farm.

These pastas are certified organic and vegan, non-GMO and gluten free. They’re high in protein and fiber.

Davidovich Bagels Now Certified Non-GMO

All Natural Products is pleased to announce that it has obtained non-GMO certification for its world famous Davidovich Bagels as part of its quest to provide the best products in the market place. The use of genetically modified ingredients has been a controversial topic all over the world. All Natural Products made a commitment several years ago to never use genetically modified ingredients in its world famous Davidovich bagels, but now those bagels are officially certified as GMO free.

This certification adds to the list of important oversight for All Natural products, including being kosher certified, Pas Yisroel, all natural, third-party audited, certified Made in NYC, certified Pride of NYS. With the exception of egg bagels, Davidovich bagels are vegan.
-Vegan (except our egg bagel)

Against the Grain: Plant-Based Without Compromise

For 10 years, Against The Grain has been going against the trend towards food industrialization. It combines the highest quality, whole ingredients in unique ways to produce naturally gluten-free, minimally-processed products. It doesn’t compromise in taste and texture either.

Plant-based products are a new departure for Against The Grain. Its best-selling gluten-free bread and pizza products have always relied on animal protein, but when faced with the opportunity to develop a new line of products, it asked, why not create a plant-based product that was both gluten-free and grain-free? The new 100 percent plant-based Ginger Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies are just that. They are rich and buttery-tasting, soft and chewy, and made with real ingredients and no gums, binders, emulsifiers or preservatives. What it offers is a very satisfying, responsible indulgence that is easier on the planet.

About Against The Grain Gourmet
Against The Grain Gourmet is a celiac family-owned wholesale manufacturer of frozen gluten-free bread, pizza and cookie products located in Brattleboro, Vermont. It is also the only national gluten-free and grain-free bakery. The company’s products are made with a minimal number of ingredients with no preservatives or additives in its dedicated gluten-free and nut-free facility. It prides itself on paying its production staff the highest wages and the best benefits package in the industry.

Plant-Based Protein Products Projected to Continue Market Growth

By Greg Gonzales

Ask vegans where they get their protein these days, and eyes are sure to roll. Consumers, especially millennials, are adding more plant-based proteins to their diet than ever before. Their reasons vary, but tend to include health, sustainability and ethical concerns. “At the current trends of food consumption and environmental changes, food security and food sustainability are on a collision course,” says a 2014 American Society for Nutrition study. “Policies in favor of the global adoption of plant-based diets will simultaneously optimize the food supply, health, environmental and social justice outcomes for the world’s population.” Whatever their reasons for incorporating more plant-based protein into their diets, plant-based alternatives are one of the biggest trends this year.

According to Mintel’s 2016 Global Food and Drink Trends report, the increase in novel protein sources appeals to a wider variety of consumers, and indicates that the “alternative” marketplace might take over the mainstream animal-based market. As early as 2013, Mintel reported that more than one-third of U.S. consumers had purchased a meat alternative such as Tofurky or Beyond Meat. Seventy percent of Millennials consume meat alternatives a few times a week, with one-third of them consuming a meat alternative daily.

Some of them are switching to plant-based diets, or not eating as much meat, as a health choice. Recent research from the World Health Organization and other institutions have linked processed meat and red meat consumption to colon cancer, and other forms of cancer. Meat is also rich in saturated fats and sodium, which is bad for heart health when it dominates the diet. According to a Harvard study, replacing these fat-rich meats with foods rich in polyunsaturated fats, like nuts or seeds, reduced heart disease risk by 19 percent. Another study, from Imperial College London, showed that reduced meat consumption also helps prevent obesity in the long term. In addition, a look at the nutrition facts on meat versus peas or beans shows that the latter can provide more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals without the extra fat the former adds. Reducing meat intake and substituting vegetables provides all the daily dietary requirements.

Consumers have also reduced their meat intake in the name of animal welfare and environment. For example, more than 8 billion chickens were slaughtered for meat in 2014, most of them living in cages too small to move around in. Some argue that this kind of pain and suffering of the animals is enough for them to make the switch, though consumers might also point to environmental factors as well. Chef and Restaurateur Dan Barber writes in his book, “The Third Plate,” that “Fixtures of agribusiness such as five-thousand-acre grain monocultures and bloated animal feedlots are no more the future of farming than eighteenth-century factories billowing black smoke are the future of manufacturing.” Barber argues in interviews, books and Ted Talks that agriculture, cooking and nature go hand-in-hand, that foods produced along with the local ecosystem are sustainable and even taste better.

Reasons for eating more plants and less meat aside, available alternatives to animal proteins run the gamut of protein sources. Quorn‘s patties and strips get their protein from a fungus to mimic the taste and texture of chicken, while Gardein’s formulation for chicken, fish and burgers do the same using vital wheat gluten. Beyond Meat’s products use a variety of sources, including pea protein, to mimic meats like chicken and beef. Vegans can still enjoy their morning eggs with Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, a completely vegan egg product made from algae that cooks up in a pan just like the real thing. Bean burgers, mushrooms, jackfruit, tempeh, tofu, seitan and texturized vegetable protein are just some of the other ways consumers are pushing meat proteins further off their plates. From Paleo to vegan and gluten-free, there’s something for every individual.
“People need the information so they can make their choice, even in the space of non-meat proteins,” said Minh Tsai, Founder and CEO of Hodo Soy. “Even now, there’s a lot of choices. With information, both in terms of what it tastes like and what the ingredients are, customers will have that info and make the right choice when it comes to taste, and when it comes to health.”

Demand Spurs Farmers to Consider the Organic Option

By Lorrie Baumann

American consumer demand for fresh, organic produce is creating the market that’s encouraging more farmers to convert land to organic production, according to Laura Batcha, Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, and John Reganold, Regents Professor of Soil Science & Agroecology at Washington State University. “I’m hearing from a lot of the certifiers focusing on farm level operations that 2015 was their biggest year ever for new applications. There is an awareness of the supply crunch,” Batcha said. “There are produce companies that are going out and talking to farmers about transitioning because they do need the supply of organic.”

Consumer demand for organic produce has been growing rapidly, and the result has been that the U.S. has become a net importer of organic produce. The available trade data suggests that we’re importing produce during the winter season when it’s not available within the U.S., Batcha said. The exception to that is tropical products like bananas and mangoes, which can’t be grown in the mainland U.S. Coffee is the organic crop that’s most commonly imported into the U.S.

The United States is also a major importer of organic corn and soy livestock feed. “We’re relying on overseas production that could be done in U.S. except that we don’t have the growers,” Batcha said.

On the other hand, American organic farmers are also finding new markets outside the U.S., especially for products like carrots and apples, and the value of those exports to a world that’s hungry for organic produce is helping keep those farmers in business. “The U.S. is a major supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to the world, and the world is looking for organic products,” Batcha said. “The exports really do help with profitability. They tend to be able to get a premium, … and that helps to sustain the industry.”

Many of those export crops are being produced on family farms, even if their individual crops are not large, according to Batcha. “Even the big players for strawberries are pulling their supplies from smaller family farms,” she said. Foreign demand for organically grown almonds and walnuts has also provided economic opportunities for family farmers, she added.

The Organic Trade Association is encouraging more American farmers to convert their land to organic production to meet the demand and is experiencing some success, although most of that is coming from younger farmers. The average American farmer, though, is about 58 years old. “There are a number of reasons for that. Farmers get more resistant to change once they reach about 40,” Reganold said. “To change a system from conventional to organic might happen more with younger people. Organic farmers tend to be younger, and maybe that reflects young people being more willing to change…. When I talk to organic, conventional, or other farmers, that issue comes up: we need more young people. Getting young people involved is not easy.”

“We’ve been talking about the supply issue for about a year and a half now. I’m at the point where I’m starting to feel a little hopeful. We’ve seen a lot of innovative partnerships happening within the supply chain to encourage farmers to go organic,” Batcha added. “Farmers are embracing a lot of different models in agriculture – organic being one of them. Younger folks are open to new ideas, and they’re experimenting. The desire is there for the vocation and the lifestyle, but there’s also the desire and the expectation to actually make a living doing it. Organic provides the opportunity to create a different financial model to get through that succession. We’re just going to see more of it.”

One obstacle is that transitioning land from conventional to organic production is a three-year process that involves compliance and documentation for a whole new set of regulations. “It takes time because you have to document and you have to answer questions for certifications,” Reganold said. He added that, despite the headaches of dealing with the rules, he’s finding more farmers who are committed to a process that offers benefits for their soils as well as a future for their farms. “A lot of us are anti-regulation – we have farmers who want to regulate themselves,” Reganold said. “[They’re saying,] ‘It’s okay to check my records.’”

“The success rate goes up dramatically for farmers who have a support system for knowledge transfer. Organic systems are more information intensive. If you’re going from conventional to organic, you’re losing the arsenal of chemicals and you have to learn how to manage without that. Your weed environment might change, your disease environment might change. You have to plan ahead because you don’t have instant solutions to the problems that come up,” Batcha said. “The imbalance between supply and demand always comes with a lag, particularly in agriculture, where you can’t accurately forecast three years out. We’re going to live in an environment when you’re short or long. We’re really trying to prepare now for new policies that can support growers when they’re transitioning. We seem to have gotten the attention of USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] on that issue.”

Sioux Natural Hatches Veggan, a Gluten-Free, Plant-Based Egg Substitute

Sioux Natural is introducing Veggan, a plant-based egg substitute that matches the nutritional and functional properties of whole eggs in baking, while minimizing the health risks we’ve come to know with conventional eggs. The new product comes much to the relief of chickens, vegans, and those with egg allergies everywhere as well as those watching their cholesterol.

“We are proud to offer a clean, plant-based, allergen-free egg alternative in a time where large-scale egg production can’t keep up with maintaining the health and safety of their flocks or their eggs,” said Paula Persinger, President of Sioux Natural, LLC. “Veggan is a natural choice for people avoiding animal products, allergens, and GMOs, and for the companies who’d like to make food for them while also benefiting from cost and risk reduction.”

Since Veggan is created through sustainable, minimally processed, GRAS-certified ingredients, it virtually eliminates the risks we’ve come to recognize—and bear—from large-scale egg production practices. The product offers identical performance: Veggan offers a 1:1 volume and weight substitution, which eliminates the need for additional allowances or reformulations.

Veggan’s ingredients are available and easily sourced at a cost savings to eggs. Without having to rely on flock health, using plant-based Veggan minimizes the huge price increases that occur when chicken populations are fighting widespread illness, like the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in 2015. Not only is Veggan immune to bird illnesses, it also substantially reduces the microbial risk for salmonella and listeria in a way that large-scale egg production simply can’t. When eggs get recalled, so do every product and recipe they touch. Using Veggan helps preserve corporate bottom lines, company reputations, and the health of the end-consumer.

Replacing eggs with Veggan also allows the baking industry to expand their product offering to customers with gluten, cholesterol, and environmental sensitivities. With its amazing functionality, neutral flavor profile, and clean label, Veggan is a clear choice for waffles, donuts, breads, cakes, muffins, cookies, and more.

“It’s always refreshing when science can make good, wholesome food healthier and more accessible,” adds Persinger. “And it’s exciting to see a product that has just as many applications in Grandma’s kitchen as it does in large-scale baking operations.”

Rice Brands Earn Non-GMO Certification

Riviana Foods Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ebro Foods, S.A., has announced that its leading rice brands: Minute®, Carolina®, Mahatma®, Success®, Blue Ribbon®, Comet®, Adolphus®, Gourmet House® and RiceSelect® have earned the Non‐GMO Project Verification on its rice products. This verification is yet another way Riviana is demonstrating its commitment to providing consumers with up-to-date product information and responding to consumer-driven trends.

“Consumers want to know not just what’s in their food but also where it comes from,” said Paul Galvani, Senior Vice President of Marketing of Riviana. “In the future, companies will succeed by having full ingredient transparency, allowing consumers to make informed choices. Brands that are silent on the issue run a risk of losing consumer trust. We are proud to be leading the way in the rice category earning Non-GMO Project Verification,” said Galvani.

Over 175 rice products from Minute, Carolina, Mahatma, Success, Blue Ribbon, Comet, Adolphus, Gourmet House and RiceSelect will carry the new verification seal on the front of the packages, where it is easy to spot. Riviana rice products bearing the Non-GMO Project Verified logo began appearing on grocery shelves across the country in 2016.

GrandyOats Launches Gluten-free Line

GrandyOats, a Maine maker of organic cereals and snacks, is launching a line of certified gluten-free products from its dedicated gluten-free production area in its new 100 percent solar powered headquarters in Hiram, Maine. This spring, GrandyOats will launch its certified gluten-free line starting with 12 skus of bulk trail mixes and nuts followed by two packaged products. GrandyOats expects to launch more certified gluten-free products later in the year.

Specifically, GrandyOats trail mixes and roasted nuts including High Antioxidant Trail Mix, Garlic Herb Cashews, Maple Roasted Cashews, and Nori Sesame Cashews, will all be certified gluten-free. GrandyOats granola will be next to go gluten-free, with its popular Coconut + Fruit Granola earning the designation shortly thereafter, followed by organic oatmeal and other products.

“Gluten-free will be a strong focus for us throughout 2016 and into 2017,” said Aaron Anker, Chief Granola Officer, GrandyOats. “Our customers have been asking us for organic, certified gluten-free granola and snacks, and in our new designated gluten-free space we are happy we can deliver.”

Consumers are choosing gluten-free products for many reasons, including disease, sensitivity, allergy, and other health concerns. In addition, gluten-free consumers are seeking additional benefits, such as organic and GMO-free, that go beyond gluten-free. Value-added propositions including current low-sugar and savory culinary trends, factor in highly as well. Improving the quality and selection of gluten-free foods available in mainstream channels will help sales in the category grow nearly 1.5 times through 2019, according to market analysis by Packaged Facts.

Like all GrandyOats cereals and snacks, the new gluten-free products are certified organic, non-GMO, and made by hand in small batches by the GrandyOats family in their 100 percent solar powered bakery in rural Maine.

Organic Granola has long been the keystone product of the GrandyOats bakery. GrandyOats Coconut + Fruit Granola is a savory-sweet, organic granola with a hearty blend of organic oats, rich coconut flakes, fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, plump raisins, wild flower honey, coriander and sea salt. GrandyOats Coconut + Fruit Granola will be gluten-free in both bulk and packaged offerings.

GrandyOats never uses refined sugar or artificial ingredients in its recipes. Both new flavors are sweetened with real, wild flower honey and have organic apple juice sweetened fruit.  Certified organic by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and certified Kosher, GrandyOats never uses products that contain antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs. All GrandyOats organic granola is made with organic sunflower oil and does not use canola oil.

In November 2015, GrandyOats became the first net zero food production facility on the East Coast by constructing a state-of-the-art, 100 percent solar powered facility in rural Maine. The GrandyOats solar electric system will produce on average 95,622 kWh of clean, renewable electricity annually. It will offset over 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the amount of miles equivalent to driving from Maine to San Francisco and back 25 times.

GrandyOats achieved 28 percent growth in 2015 producing 1.2 million pounds of organic granola, trail mix and roasted nuts and generating 5.3 million in sales. Also in 2015, GrandyOats expanded its food service presence in higher education cafeterias as the first independent, organic brand to be served at more than 75 colleges and universities from University of Maine at Orono to The State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo. With the gluten-free product line, they hope to reach even more “real granolas.”

“We’ve been fortunate enough to grow slowly but steadily, while still making our products by hand in small batches in rural Maine,” continued Anker.

Consistent with its commitment to being net zero, GrandyOats will have a 100 percent solar-powered booth at Natural Products ExpoWest Conference in Anaheim, CA at booth #3313.

Certified organic by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and certified kosher, GrandyOats never uses products that contain antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs. A wide range of GrandyOats organic cereals and snacks in a variety of sizes are available nationwide in natural food stores, food cooperatives, major grocery chains and online at www.grandyoats.com.

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