Almond Shake

In the spirit of Luana’s post, and knowing more about where your food comes from, two members of our Silk team were nice enough to document their recent trip to one of the groves that supplies our Silk Pure Almond, almond milk’s almonds. Check it out…

The Grove is located in California, and just like our soymilk, the almond milk is Non-GMO...

And no, they don’t pick them out of the trees, they shake ’em out…

After the shaker does its thing, the almonds sit in the sun for 2-3 days to dry out a little...

Then the harvester picks up and separates the nuts from the leaves and dirt, and off they go to our production facilities

Lauren and Brooke at the Almond Grove

This little piggy went to pasture

Every time I have the opportunity to visit a family farm or a farmer’s market, I feel such an overwhelming sense of connection to my food, the environment and the good, hard-working people who help grow my food.

Generally speaking, as a society, we’ve become so disconnected from our food and the journey it takes from farm to shelf to table. The grocery store has become the perceived “source” of food to many.  Meat, for example, comes nicely trimmed and packaged from the butcher’s counter, with little to no reminder of the animal that gave its life. Lettuces have been uniformly chopped, tripled washed and sealed in a plastic bag with no connection back to the land from which it was pulled. When a fundamental connection and to and visibility into sources of our food is lost, so is, I believe, the demand for a better, more sustainable food system. What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right? Not so much.

But despite some very big obstacles in our food system as it is today, there is also a lot of important and meaningful work happening. Thought-leaders, farmers, law makers, nutritionists, and companies across the country are mobilizing, engaging and educating people in new ways, more than ever, to fight for ensuring more good food for more people. However, it is the farmers, especially, who make me feel proud to be part of the sustainable foods community.

Last month, I had the unforgettable opportunity to tour the farm of Paul Willis, in Thornton, Iowa. Paul is the founding Niman Ranch hog farmer and a true visionary in sustainable farming. When you visit farms like Paul’s it’s obvious why the pork tastes so good—you see the thoughtful care of the animals and the land working in perfect harmony. Those piggies couldn’t look happier, hanging out and socializing on beautiful, lush pasture—literally “frolicking” through the fields. It’s the sort of experience where you can’t imagine a hog farm being any other way, even though Paul’s farming practices are the exception rather than the rule.

Also as part of my visit to Iowa, I was able to attend a celebration honoring the network of Niman Farmers who uphold the values of sustainable farming. The Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines brings together renowned chefs from across the country, who carry Niman Ranch at their restaurants, to serve an amazing, pork-inspired menu as a thank you to the farmers who make it all possible. It was a hogilicious experience.

I also feel lucky to work for a company that shares these same values and also applauds the farmers who help us bring organic dairy to the masses. WhiteWave’s Horizon Organic brand recently did some of our own farmer appreciatin’. A long-time supporter of Farm Aid and sustainable ag, Horizon sponsored Farm Aid’s 25th anniversary concert in Milwaukee, Wis last weekend. At the event, we announced our annual Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award, which honors those among our 500 family farmers who create positive change in their communities by practicing and serving as a model for organic agriculture. Harvey and Connie Frasier of Mohawk, N.Y., received this year’s award. The Frasier’s are fourth generation farmers, who transitioned from conventional to organic farming a decade ago and have never looked back thanks to the benefits they’ve seen for both their family and their cows. Today, in addition to running their organic farm, they have become vocal educators and advocates of organic, helping transitioning farmers with their certification paperwork or providing tours of their farm.

The Willis’ and Frasiers inspire me and are just two examples of the many, many family farmers that are making a difference and farming in a way that’s better for all of us. Plus, when you meet the good people who work so hard to farm in a more thoughtful way, not only does the food taste better but it “feels” better, knowing you have that connection to what’s on your plate.

Whole soy story

Last week, the Dr. Oz show featured a segment discussing Soy, and how it fits into a health diet. Following the show I got to sit down with our resident nutritionist, Andrea Carrothers to dive in a little deeper and address some of the questions I had following the segment…

TGM: During the Dr. Oz segment, he mentioned that people should eat “Whole Soy” as part of a healthy diet. What does Whole Soy mean?

AC: Whole soy foods are minimally processed to preserve the naturally occurring nutrients found in the soybean, including high quality protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Some examples of whole soy foods are edamame, tempeh, soymilk, and tofu. Eating foods made with whole soybeans ensures that you are getting all of the benefits of the soybean, rather than just individual components that may be found in soy supplements or more processed soy products.

TGM: Is Silk a Whole Soy Product?

AC: Yes. Silk soymilk is made with whole, natural, non-GMO soybeans grown in North America. Whole bean soymilk, like Silk, is made by crushing the beans and removing some of the indigestible fiber, then blending with water, flavoring, and nutritious fortifications such as calcium and Vitamin D. Making soymilk from whole beans preserves not only the protein, but also other important components like isoflavones, omega-3 fats, and some fiber. Some other soymilks are made with isolated soy protein, which is more highly and chemically processed.

TGM: What’s the difference as it relates to Whole Soy and the Processed Soy Dr. Oz suggested should be avoided?

AC: Soybeans are a unique natural source of high-quality nutrition. In addition to complete protein, soybeans also provide fiber, minerals like iron and potassium, and naturally occurring ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They are low in saturated fat and, like all plant foods, cholesterol-free. Although soy supplements and more processed soyfoods may offer specific health benefits for particular conditions, for overall nutrition, soy supplements and foods made from isolated soy protein may not offer the same well-rounded balance of nutrients as foods made from whole soy. In order to reap maximum benefit from soy in the diet, select minimally processed soyfoods that preserve as much of the soy plant’s inherent nutrition as possible. Tofu, tempeh, edamame and soymilk made from whole soybeans are all good choices.

TGM: The Dr. Oz segment also mentioned that people should only have one serving of Whole Soy a day, can people feel safe having more than one serving?

AC: Yes. Experts agree that soy foods can play a valuable role in a healthy balanced diet for men, women, and children alike. There is no evidence to suggest that intake of multiple servings of whole soy foods has detrimental health effects. In fact, soy foods have been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and potentially reducing the risk for certain cancers. The American Cancer Society concurs, stating that breast cancer patients can consume soyfoods like soymilk, edamame, and tofu regularly, suggesting that moderate amounts of soy (up to three servings per day) can be a part of a healthy diet. Most nutrition experts agree that replacing some of the animal protein in your diet with plant-based protein such as soy, beans or nuts may have significant health benefits. In fact, a high consumption of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes (including soybeans) is associated with lower rates of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Soyfoods including tofu, tempeh, edamame and whole-bean soymilk all offer versatile and appealing ways for people to bring more plant-based foods into their everyday diets.

Big thanks to Andrea for her time. If you have any other questions about Soy or any of our other brands,  feel free to add them in the comments below and we’ll make sure they get answered…

10.10.10

In honor of Non-GMO day today, here are a few links to help you:

1. Find retailers who are participating near you

2. Hear what our Silk brand’s vice president thinks about the issues around GMOs

3. Hear what scientists recently found out about genetically modified corn (not good news)

Mr. W

Wait for it, there’s a message at the end…