Getting Back to Our Roots at Expo East

Last week, I had the opportunity to be part of a team representing WhiteWave in Baltimore at the Organic Summit and Natural Products Expo East, one of the largest trade shows for the natural and organic foods community.  Events like these are great opportunities to stay connected with Horizon’s roots as a pioneering organic brand, connect with others and see what’s new in the growing natural products industry.

One of the highlights of our time in Baltimore was hosting natural products retailers and brokers at our Horizon Organic dairy farm in nearby Kennedyville, Md.  Our farm team welcomed about a dozen guests for a pasture walk, a tour of the milking parlor, maternity barn and free-stall barn and – most important – an opportunity to meet the cows.

We’re celebrating Horizon’s 20th anniversary this year, so it was a great time to be among fellow members of the organic movement.  With our organic heritage in mind, our WhiteWave Foods booth on the Expo East show floor took us back to our roots, since our brands got their start in natural foods stores and co-ops.  The booth is made of recycled shipping pallets and celebrates our Colorado home and the history of Horizon and Silk.

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we released the first edition of a new Horizon Organic Stewardship resource, a six-page collection of facts and data on our company-owned farms, family farmer partners and processing plants.  Transparency is an important value for organic consumers, and this resource, which resides on our website and will be updated regularly, speaks to everyone’s growing desire to know where our food comes from.

Kelly Shea, WhiteWave’s vice president for organic stewardship and industry relations, did a great job participating in a panel discussion on “Engaging the Next Generation of Organic Farmers” at the Organic Summit, and blogged about it here.

More than 20,000 people attended Expo East this year, an increase from last year’s attendance – and a very positive sign of the continued growth potential and momentum of the organic movement.  I was proud to be there with our WhiteWave team and can’t wait for Expo West in Anaheim next March.

Celebrate National Coffee Day

While most coffee drinkers treat everyday like National Coffee Day, today is actually (officially) National Coffee Day, and the perfect opportunity for coffee-related brands (like our very own International Delight) to offer up some cool promotions to help you celebrate.

If you’re on Twitter, check out the contest. If you’re not on Twitter… join Twitter, then check out the contest.

International Delight will also be hosting a Twitter party from 2 – 3 p.m. EST. where they’ll be giving away even more prizes. Check it out.

Oh, and even though it is National Coffee Day, don’t go too crazy on the CaffeLattes…

Horizon Organic French Toast Waffles…

Cathy’s back with a new twist on French Toast…

Planting seeds for organic farming’s future

Earlier this week, I participated in a panel discussion at The Organic Summit, an annual leadership forum for people who care about the future of the organic movement. Our topic was “Engaging the Next Generation of Organic Farmers.” I was joined by two terrific panelists: Cynthia Barstow, Seed to Shelf Marketing for Sustainability and adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts; and Curt Ellis, documentary filmmaker and co-founder and executive director of FoodCorps USA.

This is a tremendously important topic. If we’re going to grow the benefits of organic farming for people and the planet, we need more organic farmers, farming more acres without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or genetically engineered seeds.

I encouraged the summit audience to “hug your R&D team,” because innovation in organic foods is a major driver of opportunity for future organic farmers. Unless we grow the space, there’s no room for the organic farmers of the future. A great example is our Horizon Organic milk with DHA-Omega 3. Since we added this product to our portfolio in 2007, we’ve been able to add about 100 family dairy farms to our source of supply for Horizon, bringing the total to about 650 family farms that together supply 94 percent of our milk; the other six percent comes from our two company owned farms in Idaho and Maryland.

Cynthia discussed the great strides being made in organic agriculture education, ranging from two- and four-year programs at land-grant universities and other schools to WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which provides “gap year” on-farm experience to introduce young people to organic farming, with about 1,400 participating U.S. farms.

Curt told the story of FoodCorps USA, an offshoot of the highly regarded Americorps public service program for young people. FoodCorps’ first 50 youth leaders, selected from among more than 1,200 applicants, have been working across the U.S. to help kids plant school gardens, to help them learn what healthy food is and where it comes from, and to bring local organic produce into school cafeterias, where many kids get more than half of their calories.

Organic farming offers young farmers of all ages a great alternative to conventional, chemicals-based GMO agriculture. It’s a great story about the fast growing world of value added agriculture, something that’s relatively new and growing fast. I left our session feeling confident and excited about the next generation of organic farmers, and the opportunities in front of them.

Natural Products Expo East, Off to Baltimore we go…

Excited to join about 10 other Boulder area companies at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore starting today. It’s one of the rare occasions where natural food companies big and small come together in one place to share stories, ideas and (most importantly) food samples. Seriously, if you plan on attending the show, don’t eat anything before you go.

Check out this article in The Daily Camera for more info on the event. And if you’re in the area, stop by the WhiteWave booth (#1025) to wish our Horizon Organic brand a happy 20th anniversary, and sample our Silk brand’s newest product – Fruit and Protein.

(BONUS: Check out the video below to see how our booth came together for the show)

Algae-Based DHA gets thumbs up from Doctors Oz and Roizen

Courtesy of the Denver Post, Doctors Oz & Roizen talk about their support for algae-based DHA supplements for kids, via their nationally syndicated Q&A column, “The You Docs”:

Q: Lately I’ve been seeing DHA supplements for kids that are supposed to support “brain health.” Do they work?— Eileen, Allentown, Pa.

A: There’s no doubt that the brain needs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, to develop to the max. Kids who don’t get enough fatty acids from their moms during pregnancy are at risk of low birth weight and a small head, which can affect central nervous system and cognitive ability (“smarts” to you).

So what’s the controversy about kids? Some researchers say DHA supplements contribute to a child’s smarts. Others say they don’t. Still others say they negatively affect young memories and kids’ ability to do easy tasks.

We don’t think taking DHA will hurt a child (just buy algae-based formulas, to avoid mercury and other possible toxins in fish-oil types). In fact, a supplement may be the only way to get enough DHA into many kids’ diets (especially if the only food with fins they like is Swedish fish candy). But the top ways to boost smarts are stimulating teachers, supportive parents and hard work. That’s what’ll get them into Williams or Harvard, where we went. And, yes, we were lucky enough to have parents who fed us DHA in cod-liver oil as kids and who pushed us hard to outstudy our pals.

Content courtesy of  The Denver Post 

That’s a stance we are behind 100%, and exactly why we introduced Horizon Organic’s DHA supplemented milk (algae-based DHA). Read more about our DHA products here.

Annual Food Awards go big in Boulder (naturally)…

Had an awesome time at the Naturally Boulder Autumn Awards and Pitch Slam Wednesday night.

The annual event brings together some of the Natural Food industry’s best and brightest to celebrate successes, and meet some of the new up and comers.

The Pitch Slam portion of the show was definitely the highlight of the evening, bringing natural products entrepreneurs on stage to pitch their business and ideas to a panel of industry experts. This year’s winner was Bamboobies; a great product that helps nursing mothers.

After the Pitch Slam we moved to the award portion of the night, where the very well deserved Company of the Year award went to Evol Foods. An amazing new local company, that makes a mighty tasty burrito (among other delicious things), with the help of “humanely and sustainably raised meats and proteins, hormone-free cheese, delicious fresh produce, and traditionally made tortillas.

The award show also recognized Chef Ann Cooper for her work with Boulder School District to improve school lunches; and Hass Hassan who received the Lifetime Achievement award for his work in the natural food industry. Both awards were very well deserved.

Congrats to all the winners… can’t wait until next year.

Ralphies Green Stampede back for another year…

Back in 2008 Ralphies Green Stampede made the University of Colorado the first NCAA bowl championship team to eliminate public trash cans in its stadiums, and measure the impact it had on waste diversion. Which makes us all the more jazzed to be renewing the partnership this year, and adding a few more things to the table. That’s right, we’re once again partnering with the Buffs to help bring a little “green” to the Black and Gold… and have a little fun along the way.

On top of the Green Stampede program, we’re also sponsoring the University’s Homegrown Hero’s program, which highlights athletes who’ve seen success at CU, and also grew up right here in Colorado. Check out this week’s honoree.

And we’ll also be sponsoring the new Family Fun Zone area at Folsom; a great spot for activities to help burn some energy before you get into the stadium before the game.

Check out some of the photos below from the Fun Zone at last week’s game, and stay tuned to The Grazing Mind for more around our Partnership with CU throughout the season.

The Big Boulder Shutdown

Boulder County (Colorado) currently allows the planting of GMO corn on publicly owned open space. But that might soon be changing if the folks at GMO Free Boulder have anything to say about it.

As part of a larger campaign to keep GMOs out of Boulder, yesterday the group participated in The Big Boulder Shutdown – an event designed to sway officials toward developing new rules around agricultural practices in Boulder County; agricultural practices that don’t allow GMOs.

Members of our Silk team were there to support the event, as was Ellen Feeney, our Vice President of Responsible Livelihood, who sat on a panel for Alex Bogusky’s Fearless Revolution show (which you can watch in its entirety below).

Yet another example of how consumers are standing up for more information around what’s in their food, and how that food is being produced.

Venus de Miles 2011 – We did it!

Fifty women from WhiteWave Foods rode their little hearts out this past Sunday during the Venus de Miles bike ride.  All of us wore our WhiteWave inspired jerseys and some wore tutus too. Some of us rode 33 miles, others rode 51, 67 or even 100!

It was an incredible event and a ton of fun. Count me in for next year.

Thanks to all the riders, sponsors, event-organizers, volunteers and those who cheered us on along the way. Every single one of you made this year’s event a truly memorable one.

Check out some of the video footage and other pics from the event below:

The whole Crew (big thanks to Eric, there in the middle, who captured the video)