Chocolate Silk Truffles…

Cathy teaches Jill how to take four simple ingredients, and turn them into something delicious…

Venus de Miles – Sign me up, Sister

When I learned Jill Tanner, a very talented member of our Creative Services team, was designing the WhiteWave bike jerseys for the upcoming Venus de Miles bike ride, I knew I had to sign up.

 Here’s the thing though, I hadn’t been on a road bike in years, so despite my enthusiasm for the cool jersey — the rest felt really overwhelming. But last Sunday a nice thing happened. My husband led me on a 13-mile bike ride as a precursor to Venus and in a shocking twist of events two things occurred. First, I didn’t yell at my husband.

He was great, giving me pointers, but not in a condescending-I’m-a-know-it-all-lifelong-cyclist kind of way. He was calm, patient and, well…helpful. Therefore, the other thing that happened was I actually enjoyed it.

Good thing. I’m signed up to ride the 33-mile course. There are 51 other women at WhiteWave participating — some of whom are far more ambitious than I am and have signed up to ride the 50-mile course. Others are courageous enough to ride the 100-mile course. The 52 of us nearly double the number of WhiteWave women who participated last year.

Venus de Miles is the only all-female bike ride in Colorado and it’s taking place this Sunday. The website emphasizes that this is not a “race” — rather a “celebration of sisterhood.” I grew up with two older brothers so I’m not sure what that means, but I’ve heard this ride includes men dressed in drag, great food, drink and even pedicures.  If all that stuff equates to “sisterhood” I’m all in.

The ride is not only about women riding bikes and guys in drag. It’s to raise money for a great cause — Greenhouse Scholars. Pete Burridge and a team of professionals from the branding and marketing firm Greenhouse Partners created this non-profit group seven years ago and have already begin making an impact among low-income college students. Go Greenhouse Scholars!

(And in true WhiteWave fashion, our team has already raised $1,535 for this incredible cause. Dig that!)

Leftovers, not just for dinner

I get the same elated feeling when I find five dollars in my pocket as I do when I open the refrigerator at dinnertime and find a homemade, pre-prepared meal already waiting for me. Leftovers and their trusty ally the microwave can relieve any distressed person needing to get food on the table quickly. I’m an advocate for using any leftovers—it is efficient and waste-free. But a recent New York Times article informed me that I am missing a further opportunity to take advantage of leftovers’ potential.

Stem-to-root cooking accepts all parts of fruits, vegetables, and legumes as edible, a no-waste philosophy on foods’ capabilities. Stems, leaves, cobs, rinds, seeds, peels, and scraps still contain valuable nutrients and flavors that can be incorporated in delicious and healthful recipes. Anything else, of course, is compostable.

Here at WhiteWave, we take a stand for leftovers’ efficiencies as well, both in our eating, living, and office habits. Through our partnership with Eco-Cycle, paper, cardboard, trash, food, and other waste produced at the office are all diverted to appropriate recycling or composting locations. Even liquid refuse in drains is pumped into liquid composters. In 2010, WhiteWave’s recycling and composting program diverted over 115,000 pounds of waste from landfills.

Another key cornerstone of WhiteWave’s green campaign for a zero-waste operation is reusability. That means using reusable mugs, water bottles, grocery bags, and dishes to cut out constantly trashing plastic bags and paper dishware. Even my zippy work station and desk chair are over 90% recyclable. (Hopefully that information doesn’t ignite any office pranks around here.)

Start a compost pile in your backyard, try a fennel and carrot frond salad, or switch out that plastic water bottle for a reusable one. Wise use of leftovers can cut costs, increase efficiencies, and make a little change in our environment.

How do you use leftovers?

Inspiration and camaraderie at Farm Aid

As a Horizon producer since 2008, I was honored to attend Farm Aid on Horizon’s behalf in Kansas City, Kan., last weekend. Farm Aid is an annual benefit concert that raises funds to support the organization’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose food from family farms. I was particularly proud to attend the concert with my 16 year-old son, Timothy, who works on our McVeytown, Pa., farm and will hopefully take over my role one day.

More than anything, the event helped remind me, as a longtime family farmer, why it’s so important for farmers to get involved and to speak with each other and the people who buy our products about what we do and why we do it.

Timothy and I were recognized for our commitment to organic farming at a dinner hosted by Horizon the night before the concert. We received an honorable mention for the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award which honors farmers who advocate on behalf of organic agriculture.

During the concert, we were invited to go onstage to help present a donation check to Farm Aid on behalf of Horizon. It was a pretty amazing to not only see Farm Aid board member and artist Willie Nelson up close, but to also see 18,000 people there to support family farmers like us.

Beyond the dinner and concert, the most impactful part of the trip was getting a chance to speak with other organic farmers and supporters of organic agriculture about the importance of educating consumers about where their food comes from and the people who produce it.

I am proud to tell people that I am organic dairy farmer, and believe that organic family farmers can and should play a role in sharing the benefits of organic agriculture. While it is hard to find the time, over the past year or so, I’ve started doing things like holding pasture walks on my 250-acre farm, conducting interviews with reporters, and getting involved with the Pennsylvania Certified Organic Board to help give voice to local organic agricultural issues and topics.

Attending Farm Aid reaffirmed my belief in what I do and why I do it, as well as the importance of organic stewardship and advocacy. A lot of people at Farm Aid who saw us in our Horizon hats and shirts thanked us for what we’re doing. I showed them my appreciation for how they’re supporting the livelihood of family farmers with the food choices they make every day. I hope to thank many more people in the future as we continue to educate consumers about the benefits of organic agriculture for the land, animals and farmers like me and Timothy.

From the mountain top – seeking true value

Most of us spend a lot of time at work. So, it’s natural for work to cross into our personal lives. At WhiteWave, we have a set of values to which we often refer to help guide business decisions. One of those in particular is quite meaningful to me both in work and in life: The discipline to meet our own expectations.

For whatever reason, I have often struggled with accomplishing certain things that I say  I really want to do. We all talk about things we want to do and sometimes don’t end up getting around to them, but in the past for some reason I didn’t seem to mind disappointing myself.

This year, I was determined to change that, and the WWF value helped me focus. One of my expectations for the summer was to accomplish a big hike, specifically, a “14er” – one that takes you at or above 14,000 feet. Early in the summer, I set a date with a few friends who also work at WhiteWave and together we made it happen.

I went, I hiked, and even more than the views, the satisfaction of meeting my own expectations made it one of the best days of my summer.

Ice Cream!

Man, it’s like 900 degrees in Broomfield, Colo. today. Thankfully, our friends at Sweet Cow Ice Cream stopped by to help us cope with the heat…

Making food more awesome

Improving the food system sounds like a massive undertaking. A big challenge that needs big solutions, right? Maybe not.

Awesome Food (part of the Awesome Foundation) is looking for small ideas to help fix food, and in turn offering small “no-strings attached” grants for the good ones.

Farm Aid 2011

For the past 25+ years, no organization has done more for farmers than Farm Aid. Which is why our Horizon Organic and Silk brands are once again proud to support the event as Willie and crew gear up for their 26th concert this coming weekend.

Since its first show back in 1985, the annual event has raised more than $39 million to help support farmers across the country… support that’s especially needed this summer as drought conditions and economic pressures are taking a toll on the farming industry.

If you’re in the Kansas City area this weekend, you should definitely check it out. But if you can’t attend the show, you can still help out via your cell phone. Just  text FARMAID to 80888 to donate $10 to the cause*.

*A one-time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging and data rates may apply. Donations are collected for Farm Aid by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see www.farmaid.org/t.