We all want to eat the healthiest foods possible, and most of us would also like to support companies that protect our precious human and natural resources. Fortunately, today thousands of incredible food companies are producing sustainable, high-quality, highly nutritious foods.
The following Editors’ Picks are some of our very favorite suppliers of super-nutritious foods produced in conscientious ways. They all showcase a dedication to superior ingredient quality and to developing and maintaining longstanding relationships with trusted small farmers. In addition, these companies make it obvious that they value the people who work for them through innovative corporate policies. They value their customers, too, answering every question promptly via phone, email or Facebook. In this article, we chose not to include national produce or meat companies, as we recommend sourcing these items as close to home as possible.
Bob’s Red Mill
Nearly 40 years ago, Bob Moore set out to help people get back to basics with healthy whole grains that consumers could trust to be the best possible options for their health. Today Bob’s Red Mill offers one of the largest selections of organic, whole- grain and gluten-free foods in the United States. Its Grains of Discovery collection debuted in 2013, featuring ancient grains, such as farro and sorghum, from around the world.
• Ingredient Sourcing and Quality: Bob’s Red Mill uses stone mills to preserve the flavor, freshness and nutrition of whole grains, and processes foods as little as possible. The company works with farmers in the growing regions best suited to each grain, and sources only the best quality. Bob’s Red Mill offers dozens of certified organic whole-grain options.
• Responsibility: On his 81st birthday in 2010, Moore and his partners gave the company to its employees in the form an employee stock-ownership plan. “It was the ultimate way to reward our dedicated employees for their contributions to the company’s ongoing success and growth,” Moore says. “We are so proud to be an employee-owned company!”
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The oldest natural food company in North America, Eden Foods manufactures more than 400 organic, kosher and traditional foods. Eden is committed to full transparency and offers public tours of its facilities by request.
• Ingredient Sourcing and Quality: All Eden products are free of preservatives, chemical additives, food colorings, refined sugar and genetically modified ingredients, and none are irradiated. Almost all of its can linings are free of BPA, BPS and PVC. Eden also offers a wide range of traditionally crafted and macrobiotic Japanese specialty foods.
• Responsibility: Eden tracks the environmental impact of its food upstream and downstream; tracks energy consumption and waste; recycles; and uses recycled materials and biodegradable packaging whenever possible. The company is also committed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building practices and employs local craftspeople. It has won numerous awards for these and other forward-thinking policies.
Eden believes a commitment to environmental responsibility goes hand-in-hand with social responsibility efforts such as donating to local food banks and sponsoring community and national events, including yoga retreats, Just Food conferences and free community food films. Described as an “incentive bonus,” Eden pays an annual profit-sharing bonus to all employees. Employees and their family members also benefit from deep discounts at the company store and plenty of free food with slightly damaged packaging.
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Herbs & Spices
Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs offers an enormous selection of organic and fair-trade certified herbs, spices and seasoning blends from culinary traditions around the world. All products are fresh and potent thanks to the company’s dedication to supporting suppliers who use skillful growing, harvesting and drying practices. The company’s founders want you to have “truly transformative sensory explorations” in your kitchen. For help plugging into your own exploration, check out the company’s tutorials on YouTube (youtube.com/user/mountainroseherbs).
• Ingredient Sourcing and Quality: Mountain Rose Herbs supports the livelihood of agricultural communities around the world by contracting only with farmers who grow certified organic crops, many through the Fair For Life Program that not only ensures herbs and spices are produced according to fair trade standards, but also reviews Mountain Rose Herbs for its working conditions, labor practices and more.
• Responsibility: Mountain Rose Herbs is a zero-waste company with a staff of master recyclers who sort 100 percent of the company’s waste materials for recycling, reuse or composting. The company’s facilities include a rain garden, a bioswale to filter runoff, native landscaping, a solar-electric car-charging station and recently installed solar panels. Employees are paid to bike, walk, bus or carpool to work, and to work on ecological restoration projects. Through the company’s Free Herbalism project, anyone interested in learning more about using plants for food and medicine can attend free workshops locally or online.
Mountain Rose Herbs is also proud to be a woman-owned and operated company that promotes talent from within the organization. Currently, 67 percent of its managers and directors are women, as are 100 percent of its executive staff.
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Kalona SuperNatural’s certified organic milk comes from sustainable family farmers, many of whom still work by hand, with an average herd of 35 cows. Kalona SuperNatural is committed to helping small farmers make organic farming a viable lifestyle by ensuring fair and stable prices. The company believes less is more when it comes to food processing.
• Ingredient Sourcing and Quality: All products are free of pesticides, synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified ingredients, and none are irradiated. The growing standards ensure a healthy natural environment through practices such as crop rotation and the avoidance of monocropping; accommodate natural animal behavior, including grazing cows on fresh pasture a minimum of 120 days; and foster the cycling of resources, such as collecting rainwater for irrigation and growing their own organic animal feed. The farmers’ pastures contain dozens of plant and grass species, and cows’ diets range from indiangrass in early summer to clover in midsummer and—most surprising—turnips in fall.
Kalona’s milk is processed at the lowest temperature possible, preserving fresh flavor and nutrients. Because all of its milk is nonhomogenized, the vitamin- and mineral-rich cream naturally floats to the top and thickens.
• Responsibility: Besides supporting organic, pastured farming methods, Kalona SuperNatural relies on solar and wind energy to power various aspects of its supply chain; makes recycling a priority at all of its facilities; and uses only recyclable packaging.
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One hundred percent of Wild Planet’s products are sustainably sourced, which is no small feat when it comes to seafood. The official mission of this privately owned company also includes providing products that offer abundant health benefits and a noticeably superior taste. Sustainable seafood is a confusing topic for many people. Wild Planet answers every question from consumers, and its president, Bill Carvalho, makes his email available on the company’s website so he can address concerns personally.
• Ingredient Sourcing and Quality: Wild Planet products are formulated for maximum health benefit. For example, most commercially canned tuna is cooked before it is canned, during which process many of the valuable omega-3 nutrients are lost. Now devoid of its natural juices, this tuna is then canned with added water, oil, fillers and additives and then cooked a second time in a sterilization process. Wild Planet’s defrosted tuna loins are hand-cut, packed into cans, sealed and cooked in the can. In this once-cooked process, the tuna’s natural juices are retained and nothing is added.
• Responsibility: Wild Planet relies on information from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and other environmental NGOs to determine where it will source its products. All products come from coastal fisheries practicing selective harvesting—never from large-scale multinational fisheries. Wild Planet’s product selection must meet these criteria: The fish is not overfished; the catch method is free of excessive by-catch; and the habitat is not damaged. Wild Planet also performs annual social audits on partner canneries.
One-third of Wild Planet employees telecommute and the average commute to work is less than two miles daily. Wild Planet also is a founding member of the “Menus of Change” program of the Culinary Institute of America, which aims to elevate the nutrition of food service programs at universities and colleges across America.
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