Why My Kids Choose Organic

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Snack jars at home: (Left) Kids ZFruit Ropes, Clif Bars, Annie’s Fruit Bunnies and Crackers. (Right) Organic, multi-colored, bulk popping corn @ Good Earth or Whole Foods.

This morning, I was opening the cabinet to reach for coffee beans and noticed an open bag of organic chocolate chips peeking out of “Mom’s not so secret chocolate stash” in the dark brown, glazed ceramic bowl I purchased at Art Works Downtown. Just below this, on top of the counter was a package of Hersey Bars that my sons’ and their Dad had taken on a recent backpacking trip in Point Reyes. I smiled. My sons would rather go into my organic dark chocolate than eat a sugary Hersey bar that doesn’t even taste like chocolate. Yes, I win! They win, and their Dad, living in the past and holding on to nostalgia… sadly is losing his battle.

Similarly, you will find a jar of Nocciolata Spread in my cabinet, right next to Nutella. Mom buys the organic, and Dad buys the product that has a chemical after taste and artificial flavoring. However, I am winning the battle because the kids taste buds are refined enough to know the difference. They choose the better tasting food, which just happens to be organic. Their father is definitely buying more organic food than ever, but he still reverts to occasional products from his childhood. The Brand is strong with this one, but I am converting him to newer brands, as our community is too. After all, who sponsors our sporting events locally but organic and healthy foods companies, like Whole Foods, Clif Bar, Nutiva, Three Twins, Raw Revolution, Alive & Radiant, Hint Water, and so on.  My sons have certainly seen more Clif Bars in their lifetime than any can of soda. Very few products make it to our grocery bag that I ever had as a child. In fact, I can’t think of a single one now off the top of my head.

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Clif Bar wrappers to send to Terracycle. We fill a bag of wrappers every month.

Take Halloween for example. Even though the boys know they are going out for mostly candy, they eat it for one night only, mostly enjoy the organic treats I have bought instead, and then give all they have collected back to me and tell me they don’t need to eat junk food that’s bad for them (Wow! Yes, this really happened!). They have been raised in a community where we always had healthier choices around at schools and parties. Clif Bar has always sponsored their bike to school days. They visited Marin Organic farms from a young age. They learned to appreciate the land, and how their food was made.

There was always a vegetarian or fruit option. Aidan eats more than one organic apple a day, and his brother leaves Clif ZBar wrappers all over the house(we still have things to work on, no doubt). Sometimes, the wrappers do make it into our Terracycle bag where we will send our Clif Bar wrappers soon, as we have collected 4 bags worth of wrappers this year.  Truth be told, I wish there were more, delicious tasting snacks for kids.  The choices are few, and we tend to live on Annie’s and Clif Bar, fresh fruit, and our two local organic ice cream brands.

Two years ago, I directed my design career towards the food and beverage arena, where I had the chance to work with a college friend who was the Senior Designer at Nutiva, maker of Organic Superfoods. I quickly gathered a strong feeling of commitment to people, health and education at this company. I had already been working with a group that supported Marin Organic for 7 years, but Nutiva made me want to improve my knowledge of packaging design and sustainability.  So, I launched The Green Pitcher on Twitter and began this site to share what I was learning along the way. I have continued to update the Art on the Farm Twitter account, even though the group has taken a break from farm visits this year, solely because I enjoy learning more about organic food and farming, so why not share what I am reading so others may benefit?

Since 2013, I have worked for six different organic food companies and taken continuing education courses in Packaging Design at Academy of Art University, How University and Lynda.com. I have found additional classes in Typography and Design on Skillshare.  I began a class with GA in San Francisco, and learned very quickly that I want to stay in the Design world, and not become a User Interface/UX Designer.  Although I love research, I want to keep learning and improving my design skills above all else. It is the world in which I have always lived, from childhood to my adult life, I have always been an artist and designer, and it has not stopped inspiring me to move forward.

My hope is to land at the company that will accept me for who I am now in my life. They will value my years of work in production art for software, web, children’s products, bikes, art galleries, non-profit programs, schools and organic products. They will see that I spent many years creating and selling my art that was all about the landscape, organic farming, cycling and giving back to my community. They will respect that I am a parent that is still learning how to best care for my sons in this changing economy. They will embrace social media and value that I have too, as it is frequently where I read the most news each day.  They will not want me to sit in a chair for eight hours straight because they know how unhealthy this is for any human, and they will work to improve this situation for all their employees. My hope is that there will be many more companies like this for my sons when they are ready to put their years of education to work.

I am excited to live in this time when a new, organic food company comes on to the scene almost daily.  I am excited that my sons’ favorite products are not Coca Cola or Kraft, but Annie’s and a super, occasional Izze. They don’t have cookies or sweets around the house for snacks, but only as a special treat. I am happy I have been able to visit many of the companies I admire and learn what it is like there for employees.  Due to confidentiality agreements, I can’t really share anything negative, but in general, I will say that the happiest employees are at companies that embrace people needing to continue to learn, exercise and be human. They continue to challenge the industry and do things on their own that are different, all without losing sight that their people are their greatest resource. If you treat your people well, you will thrive. So my tip for businesses today is to ask your people what they need to do a better job, invest in their environment, health and happiness.

To life! To improving the future of food and work for everyone. You’ve got this. Meet the moment!

CUESA: Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture… It’s a Mouthful!

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CUESA, is San Francisco’s “Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture”… and it’s a mouthful to say, but a pleasure to indulge in the bounty that this non-profit manages year round for our health and pleasure.

10 years ago, in the Spring of 2003, the Farmer’s Market at the Embarcadero in San Francisco re-opened in their new space, which became CUESA’s home and office spaces as well.  CUESA has a fabulous website and Twitter feed that tell you what produce is in season (click here to view their “Seasonality Charts”), who will be at the market each day, and they offer up to the minute specials on their Twitter feed during market days.

For example, the market is open today, Thursday, until 2pm and they have already posted a photo on Instagram.
http://instagram.com/p/irSGzPpYxJ/#

If you like cookbooks, they have a San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook which helps you to learn to cook by season and provides a bit more of the history of the SF Farmer’s Market and CUESA.  The cookbook provides more in depth information about seasonal vegetables, including their history, uses and seasonal recipes.  The Farmers Market is open year round, so get out and enjoy the colors and bounty by the Bay.  Here’s the ferry schedule to get you started.