Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program

This week I'm featuring a handful of the more than 100 local food vendors who sell their product at Boulder's Whole Foods Market.

The two vendors I'm showcasing today were recipients of WFs local producer loan program. Rather than rehash what WFs has already said so eloquently on their website about the loan program, I'm copying and pasting it here:

Whole Foods Market is committed to the concept of fresh, healthy, local foods. Since the beginning, we have remained committed to supporting local products and the people who supply them. In addition to featuring local products in our stores, we’re putting our money where our mouths are by providing up to $10 million in low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans. We’re proud to support small producers who need a hand, not a handout, to help them make their dreams reality.

The Program ...

  1. Strengthens the partnerships between Whole Foods Market and local producers
  2. Works with producers to expand the availability of high-quality local products for our customers
  3. Supports the communities where Whole Foods Market does business
  4. Reinforces Whole Foods Market’s commitment to environmental stewardship
In the Rocky Mountain region, two Boulder vendors who were recipients of the loan program, and whose product I know well, are Boulder Ice Cream and Justin's Nut Butter.

Boulder Ice Cream has been around since 1992. I was first introduced to their product when Scott Roy, one of the owners, signed up to be a food vendor at a summer, Sunday open-air art and craft market I had set in the mid 1990's.

Scott always arrived promptly with his vendor cart, and sometimes his two small children. Despite the early-morning set-up hour, he often did an excellent trade with the other market vendors who sought out his ice-cream as a reprieve from the summer heat radiating off the exposed street.

By 1998, with the arrival of Whole Foods Market to Boulder, Scott was wholesaling pints of his ice-cream to the organic grocer. And then with the help of WFs local loan program, Boulder Ice Cream was able to launch its organic line of ice-cream a couple of years ago.

Today, Boulder Ice Cream has an extensive selection of ice cream, sorbet, gelato, and non-dairy ice-cream. My personal fave is the gelato, in particular the Cioccolato Bacio (Chocolate Hazelnut) and the Pistachio. I love their version of the Italian dessert, which has no eggs, half the fat, and is slightly sweeter than regular ice-cream.

You can buy a scoop of their ice-cream at one of their many locations or you can buy their pints (pic above), which are priced competitively, at any of the local WFs. And I have to say, I would definitely buy this local product over any other ice-cream or expensive gelato that comes from beyond this region.
Justin's Nut Butter was also a recipient of WFs local Loan Program. Justin Gold is a Boulder entrepreneur who I first encountered a couple of years ago at Boulder's Farmer's Market.

He had a vendor stand at the market and was handing out little wooden spatulas, the ends of which were laden with his nut butter. I'm a nut-butter junkie and so I was happy to accept his offering, though I did specifically ask for the almond butter, my personal favorite.

Justin's almond butter comes in four flavors: Classic Almond, Honey Almond, Chocolate Almond and Maple Almond and they come in jars, plus 6 gram squeeze packs -- handy for lunch bags, hikes, and go-anywhere snack treats.

Three of the above almond butter flavors are also available as peanut butter; the fourth peanut butter flavor is Cinnamon. Justin also offers Chocolate Hazelnut a more natural spin on the European choc-hazelnut Nutella. I say more natural because a comparison of the ingredient list
is telling:

Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Natural Vanilla Powder, Sea Salt.

Nutella: Sugar, modified palm kernel oil, 13% hazelnuts, cocoa powder, skimmed milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla flavoring, whey powder.

Whole Foods was Justin's first retail outlet, though today, he now wholesales to as many as 15 retailers. Because of WFs loan program, he's been able to grow his business and his product. I love the flavors he's added since the day I came across him at the farmer's market handing out spatulas of Classic Almond and Classic Peanut.

You'll find that his jar prices are a bit higher than regular brands, but that's because his product is far superior to any other nut butter available on the grocer-store shelf. If the jar price is high for you, buy the little squeezers -- at under a dollar per pack, they're highly affordable!

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