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Deli News: Marinades
Produce News: Mushrooms and a fond farewell
Health & Wellness News: Herbal awareness month
Juice Bar & Bakery News:
A Worry-Free Grill
Recipes & Drink Recommendations
Organic and Natural Independents Disappearing
Producer Profile: What's in a name?
Ask the Midwife: About Phthalates and pregnancy
Food for Thought Recipe Contest is Underway!
by Lynn Olson, Member Services Manager
What’s in a name? Sometimes it’s pasta, or pickles or yogurt. At Willy Street Co-op hundreds of independent producers have lent their name, or their children’s names to their products. These independently-owned company’s stories (and their foods) seemed to merit a closer look into the history of their namesakes.
Location: Chester, VT
Owner: Drew Starkweather
Products: Salad Dressings, Salsa
Philosophy: Chef-Created and nnture-Inspired
Number of employees: 30
Beginning his career as a chef at age tender age of 12, Drew Starkweather later found his niche after developing his own creative line of salad dressings. While working for the Deerfield Inn of Vermont, diners at the Inn were so taken with the dressings that they began requesting bottles to take home. Drew designed his own labels and bottled the first dressings in his kitchen at home.
Location: Santa Rosa, California
Owner(s): Andy and Rachel Berliner
Products: frozen entrées, pizzas, convenience foods, canned soups, beans, chilis, jarred sauces and salsas.
Philosophy: “Healthy Eating for Busy People”
Number of employees: 700
Named for their daughter, Amy’s Kitchen is still a family business that has grown to become the leading source of frozen organic prepared foods in the U.S. and Canada and, as they set out to do when Amy was born, all of Amy’s Kitchen products are compliant with the USDA National Organic Standards. Complimenting a staff of dedicated employees, several of Andy and Rachel’s family have also contributed to or continue to be involved in developing Amy’s Kitchen products.
Location: Berwyn, PA
Owner(s): Jyoti Gupta, MS, RD
Products: Heat & serve sauces and entrees
Philosophy: The Best Natural Foods Indian Home Cooking Style
Now served on all British Airways in-flight vegetarian meals, Jyoti products are the result of years of work by registered dietitian Jyoti Gupta. Jyoti’s husband and engineer, Vigai Gupta, developed the world’s most advanced technology for cleaning beans and grains to meet Jyoti’s high standards.
Location: Stockton, CA
Owner(s): John and Kathy Gray
Products: Kosher dill pickles, sauerkraut, mustard, horseradish, pickled herring
Philosophy: “Eat My Pickles. Wear Clean Underwear. Marry a Doctor.”
Number of Employees: 3
Co-owner Kathy Gray chose a picture of her own Bubbie (grandmother) to adorn the label, but Bubbies was originally founded as a sideline hobby by Leigh Truex before selling the company to the Grays in 1989. These distinctively flavored pickled products carry the flavors of traditional Old World recipes and are enjoyed by customers throughout the U.S.
Founded: 1960, Yogurt: 1970
Location: Eugene, OR
Owner(s): Chuck and Sue Kesey
Products: Nancy’s yogurt products (dairy and soy), cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, kefir
Philosophy: “The best food to the most people at the best price.”
Number of employees: 50
Family owned and operated, Springfield Creamery was fortunate to have the right person in the right place at the right time in 1970 when Nancy Van Brasch Hamren came to the Creamery looking for work. Nancy had been the fortunate recipient of a lifelong education in making yogurt from her mother who was also a pioneer in the natural foods movement in New York. After starting as a bookkeeper, Nancy gladly offered to make and deliver those first batches of yogurt for the Creamery, so when their first customers at Willamette People’s Co-op in Eugene, OR called to get more of it they referred to it as “Nancy’s yogurt,” and the name stuck. Owner Sue Kesey admits that the Creamery was probably in danger of closing at the time when Nancy began making the yogurt and they knew they needed to find a product that would separate them from their competition. Nancy still works as the bookkeeper, but has also expanded her job duties to include: historian, research on new cultures and new ingredients, and she tastes every batch of yogurt made at Springfield Creamery.
Location: Hinesburg, VT
Owner(s): Francine & David Caccavo
Philosophy: Baked with fresh Vermont breads, special seasonings, and no preservatives or artificial anything.
Number of employees: 7
Francie’s daughter, Olivia, was three when she launched this company from her own kitchen making Butter & Garlic croutons. With its products sold throughout the U.S., Francine and David run the company from their 2,000 square foot facility in Hinesburg, VT and David bakes all of the bread used to make the croutons. Their son David Jr., one-and-a-half at the time of the company’s inception has hopes that his mom will someday name a new salad dressing line for him.
Location: Syracuse, NY
Owner(s): John Ventre, Jr.
Products: Salsa, spaghetti sauces, dips
Philosophy: Only the finest All Natural and Organic ingredients.
Number of employees: 30
When John Ventre, Jr. began making his own spaghetti sauce in the basement of his grandfather, Enrico’s home, he was so grateful to him that he chose to name the company after him as well. Over 60 years later, this family-run company is still at the forefront of the organic food movement.
Location: San Rafael, CA
Owner(s): Steve Broad and Annie Chun
Products: Noodles, noodle bowls, soups, sauces
Philosophy: Make good healthy food for busy people’s lifestyle.
Number of employees: 6
Between spending her youth in Korea and then her family’s restaurant in San Francisco, those two experiences were enough to inspire Annie Chun and her husband Steve to develop this creative line of low- or non-fat, all-natural Asian foods with no preservatives. Now sold in grocery stores across the U.S., Annie’s love of the spices she grew up with is evident in the foods she’s developed, and we’re so happy she shares them with the rest of us.
Location: Revere, MA
Owner(s): Steve Gelerman
Products: Frozen potatoes, onion rings, kids meals and bread crumbs
Philosophy: Healthier Choices for Healthier Kids
Number of employees: 35
When Steve Gelerman’s son Ian was born in 1997, he and his wife were hard-pressed to find quality convenience foods that didn’t contain artificial additives. After testing extensively on their family and friends, these antibiotic- and hormone-free tasty alternatives are now produced by this family-owned business with a commitment to all natural foods of incomparable quality.
Founded: 1988/purchased in 2001
Location: Lincoln, NE
Owner(s): Susan and Mark Zink
Products: Organic and all natural baking mixes and baking kits
Number of employees: 25
Originally founded by Wanda in 1988, Susan and Mark Zink purchased Wanda’s Nature Farm Foods in 2001 and continue to bring Wanda’s quality baking products to natural food consumers across the county as well as offering alternative fundraising opportunities (Raising Dough, Inc.) for not-for-profit organizations.
Founded: late 1940s
Location: Escondido, CA
Owner(s): Bronner Family
Products: Pure Castile soaps
Number of employees: 17
A virtuous company deserving of more than a brief peek into their rich history and environmental, ethical practices. The company was founded originally by Emmanual Bronner. His family continues the work and philosophy that started the company.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Owner(s): Arthur Giovanni
Products: Hair care products
Philosophy: Hair that is on the right diet is hair that’s healthy.
Number of employees: 15
Arthur Giovanni founded this company after achieving success as a leading hair stylist and top salon owner in Beverly Hills, CA. This company is still family-owned and hasn’t lost sight of their mission to provide a truly nutritional hair care line consisting of pure vegetable protein bases with no harsh chemicals or fillers.
Location: Milwaukie, OR
Owner(s): Bob and Charlee Moore
Products: Bread, cereals, natural and organic flour and pancake mixes.
Philosophy: Dedicated to supplying you with wholesome grain products.
Number of employees: ~50
Over 300 hundred products make up the line of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. Grinding only natural, whole grains on flint-hard quartz millstones from France, their technique and tenacity has helped to elevate this company into a front-runner in the 100% stone-ground flour industry.
Location: Westport, CT
Owner(s): Paul Newman
Products: salad dressings, pasta sauces, salsas, popcorn, lemonade, steak sauce, salad mix, cookies
Philosophy: Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good.
Paul Newman took the fun idea of gift-giving and turned this into not only a thriving natural and organic food company, but he became beacon for other corporate owners to strive toward in their charitable goodwill. Over $150 million of profits and royalties has already been donated to charities by Paul Newman himself, with no plans to change the script.
Location: North Calais, VT
Owner(s): Annie Christopher
Products: Salad dressings, condiments and marinades
Philosophy: Food for the next generation
Number of employees: 18
Working from the same 200-year-old farm owned by their family for seven generations, Annie and her family still own and operate this natural food company with the help of a dedicated staff. Based in Vermont, this company should not be confused with Annie’s Homegrown, makers of macaroni and cheese and owned by Solera, a private investment firm.