Colorado Springs startup FoodMaven is getting a boost – financially and otherwise – from a big name in the food industry.
Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, has joined the board of directors of FoodMaven, a business based on “oversupplied” food. Robb is also investing in the company; Patrick Bultema, FoodMaven CEO and co-founder, declined to detail the size of that investment but called it “significant” and “sizeable.”
Robb’s connections and credibility in the industry, meanwhile, are extremely valuable to FoodMaven, Bultema said. “Obviously, there’s some degree of validation to what we are doing to have someone of his stature joining. He has great insights that he brings to us in terms of the food system.”
Robb stepped down as co-CEO of Whole Foods at the end of last year in a management shift that left co-founder John Mackey as sole chief executive. Once news of the change broke, Robb was presented with a wealth of opportunities, Bultema said. “We were humbled and honored that we were the first thing he said yes to.”
Through an online marketplace, FoodMaven buys surplus food from grocery stores and distributors and sells it to restaurants, institutional kitchens and commercial food preparation businesses. (FoodMaven does not normally reveal its suppliers, but Whole Foods was disclosed as one in a Wall Street Journal article; that relationship is separate from FoodMaven’s ties with Robb, Bultema said.) For the suppliers, the marketplace represents revenue rescue for food that otherwise would have been lost,” Bultema said. The buyers, meanwhile, get quality food at a significant discount from wholesale, he said. Food that doesn’t rapidly sell in the marketplace is donated to charity.
FoodMaven is an agriculture-tech startup, founded in August 2015 by Dan Lewis, president/chief innovator, and Patrick Bultema, CEO/chairman. Its stated goal: keep food out of landfills. Food companies at every point between the dirt and the dinner table sign contracts with FoodMaven. When extra food shows up at their loading docks — most often produce, meat and dairy, which can’t sit in a warehouse for an indefinite amount of time — FoodMaven takes it off their hands, stores it and sells it to commercial and institutional kitchens across Colorado Springs and Denver. In the Springs alone, FoodMaven sells to 120 restaurants, plus school districts, senior living centers, caterers and even the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Being a huge fan of ready-to-eat meals all my life, I am always on the look out for new products to try. Just the other day, I was perusing the isles during my usual grocery shopping trip and came across a new ready-to-eat lunch box. Seeing that it was on sale, I was drawn to taking a look. After checking out the products within the gopicnic lunchbox, I was sold – and bought three flavors. Being familiar with the usual high amounts of sodium, fat, and sugars in other ready-to-eat meals, I was surprised to find a different quality (and taste) in the nutrition of these gopicnic products. Quite a pleasant surprise!
gopicnic ready-to-eat meals is an innovative company based out of Chicago, IL. First founded in 2006 to provide airlines in the United States with easier food for customers, gopicnic has thrived over the years and is now available in retail stores across the nation (gopicnic, 2012). Priding themselves in having “nutritionally balanced, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat boxed lunches… that require no refrigeration, heating, or preparation,” this company creates delicious meals for on-the-go. Another pride and joy for gopicnic brands is all their products contain “clean ingredients, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no added monosodium glutamate (MSG), and no artificial flavors or colors.” They are perfect lunches for those with special diets, such as gluten-free, vegan, and/or nut free diets; or simply for the busy consumer needing an affordable, quick, and healthy lunch source. (gopicnic, 2012)
There are many different flavors of these lunchboxes, and I have only to make my way through three of them – Sunbutter & Crackers, Turkey Slices & Cheddar, and Turkey Pepperoni & Cheese.
Sunbutter & Crackers
The sunflower seed paste was creamy and delicious, tasting exactly like sunflower seeds. It paired well with the salty crackers and multi seed and fruit mix. The seed and fruit mix had lots of sunflower seeds and raisins with some dried apple and other seeds. The fruit strip was quite enjoyable with a sweet and tropical flavor to it; and to finish it all off was some guiltless chocolate chip cookies. Four of the five pieces in this lunchbox were made in the USA, with the fruit strip from Canada. All five included foods are gluten-free and peanut allergy safe. My only disappointment is the chocolate chip cookies were a bit too dry for me (but that is just my opinion). Overall, this is my favorite of the flavors I have tried.
Turkey Slices & Cheddar
The turkey slices were not too strong in flavor (thank goodness), but were a bit salty for my liking (270mg of sodium per serving). The cheddar cheese is a dip, or spread if you prefer it, – gluten free and vegetarian, and tastes just like normal cheddar. Both paired well with the light and slightly sweet crackers, which had hints of honey. All three together tasted exactly like the typical lunchable you would buy in the store, but had healthier ingredient lists and nutrition facts. The side of applesauce was unsweetened (and yet still tasty), soft and smooth to the tongue, and even included a plastic spoon. I definitely enjoyed the fruit chews; which were gluten-free and sweet (they were even shaped like little jets). Overall, this was an enjoyable meal.
Turkey Pepperoni & Cheese
The turkey pepperoni slices tasted just like pepperoni slices (which is good), yet they were very slimy and high in sodium. They did pair very well with the asiago cheese dip/spread, which was not very overpowering in flavor. The crackers, whether enjoyed with the cheese and pepperoni or by themselves, were delicious. They had a good seed and sesame flavor and were very crunchy – not to mention, they were made in the USA and are gluten-free. Brownie points! The fruit and nut mix, also made in the USA, was sweet and slightly hot. It was a wonderful mix of flavor choices; and for the grand finale, a sea salt and caramel lollipop. Let me just say, “Wow.” Made in France this delectable pop is super sweet and salty. 53% of it is made from milk, and then sugar, leaving the ingredient list short and to the point. Surprisingly, no artificial flavors or colors for this sweet treat. Overall, this lunchbox had its good and bad parts, but certainly is on the top of my list for that salted caramel lolly.
In conclusion, gopicnic read-to-eat meals have been such an enjoyable alternative for my work lunches that I will certainly be going back for more! Everywhere I take these, people are curious. If you want my opinion, two thumbs up all the way! For more information on gopicnic brands and products, you can visit their online shop and website at: gopicnic.com.
I will leave you with a fun fact I found written in one of the adorable picnic-style, reclosable, gingham lunchboxes:
Did you know? … “Crackers were created in 1792 after a baker burned biscuits and heard the ‘cracking’ sound from the oven.” Enjoy!
Austin-based TreeHouse, a home improvement retailer focused on eco-friendly construction materials, has selected Dallas as its first stop outside its hip hometown. Tuesday, it will announce plans to open a store in early 2017 in a new shopping center in North Dallas.
TreeHouse CEO and co-founder Jason Ballard believes he can sell the world on eco-friendly homes in the same way that Tesla is broadening the customer base for electric cars. As the first retailer that Tesla has authorized to sell the Powerwall, its battery for the house, TreeHouse is already a powerhouse of sustainable good. They are also one of the top-selling retailers of Nest smart-home products, Ballard said.
“We resist being a niche company,” Ballard said. “We’re not just for customers with dreadlocks and card-carrying members of environmental groups. We’re going to prove with the Dallas store that we’re not a store for special people, we’re a store for everyone.”
Single-store sales have increased 35 percent every year, he said, without disclosing annual sales. Inc. Magazine said last fall that the store was on track to do $10 million in 2015.
Great news for the environment occurred last night, when CA government voted to ban single-use plastic bags across the state. “The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags” states Stephanie Spear, author at EcoWatch, who wrote California Bans Plastic Bags. If the already agreed upon bill is signed by the CA governor, California will be the first state to ban these environmentally un-friendly products.
“More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags with more than 1 in 3 Californians already living somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change,” affirms Spear. With such a large amount of the population already embracing the plastic ban bag, this measure will have little difficulty being implemented. Reusable and recycled bags are available all over! The sarcastic well-known television show Portlandia created a hilarious sketch on a gentleman who goes into a store without a bag, and has to endure the mocking because of it.
This new bill encourages consumer behavior change, healthier environmental choices, and the expansion of the California job market. Not to mention, a plastic bag ban would save taxpayers tons of money usually spent on litter clean-up!
Senate Bill 270 will:
◦ Increase the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing. In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percent recycled content.
◦ Support recycling of agriculture plastic film, which is currently sent to landfills.
◦ Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
◦ Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards, which support California manufacturing.
◦ Grandfathers existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.
Environmentalists have known for ages that litter has been washing into the ocean and causing damage to sea life (not to mention our climate). One example is,
“Plastic bags create a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles, that mistake the bags for food. A study of more than 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data, according to Ocean Conservancy.”
Whether you live in California or somewhere else in the world, join us in recycling and using reusable bags! Any bag will work! Make one, personalize one, or just reuse a shopping bag! Think of the bigger picture. Even a little decision can change lives!
Festival goers need never run out of phone battery again thanks to a new range of denim shorts and sleeping bags that use body heat and movement to generate electricity.
The Power Shorts and Recharge Sleeping Bag can charge a phone’s battery by harvesting energy from the human body using kinetic and thermoelectric technology.
The wearable phone chargers have been designed by mobile phone company Vodafone with help from the University of Southampton.
Vodafone has teamed up with the University of Southampton to create wearable phone chargers for festival goers. The Power Shorts, pictured, capture kinetic energy from the wearer’s body movements. This energy can then be used to charge mobile handsets This image explains how the Power Shorts work. They are fitted with foam-like ferroelectret smart materials which contain voids. The surfaces of these voids are permanently charged and as the size and shape of the voids in the shorts changes,when they’re squashed or deformed, a charge is produced
The Power Shorts are fitted with foam-like ferroelectret materials.
As the wearer moves, the shorts gather kinetic energy when these ferroelectret materials are squashed or deformed.
These foam-like materials contain voids.
The surfaces of these voids are permanently charged and exhibit piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties.
The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure.
When pressure is applied to the materials in the shorts they generate an electric charge.
As the size and shape of the voids in the shorts changes this creates the electricity needed to charge the phone attached to the shorts by a connector inside the Power Pocket.
The Recharge Sleeping Bag harvests thermal energy using the ‘Seebeck Effect’.
This effect creates pyroelectricity, which is the ability of certain materials to generate a temporary charge when they are heated up or cooled down.
In the case of the sleeping bag, this process monitors the change of temperature through a thermoelectric module fitted to the fabric of the bag.
Heat from the sleeper’s body flows through this module contained within a multi-layered ‘power felt’.
This felt contains polymer films and two semi conductors that generate an electric charge as they heat up.
Trials conducted by Vodafone found that a full day’s walking and dancing while wearing the shorts can provide enough energy to charge a phone for four hours.
While heat from a night in the sleeping bag is said to create 11 hours of charge.
Prof Stephen Beeby from the university said: ‘We’re exploring two specific technologies to charge the Power Pocket – thermoelectrics and kinetic energy harvesting.
‘Both represent cutting-edge research around smart fabrics and, in this case, we’re looking to integrate these into a sleeping bag and a pair of denim shorts.’
Vodafone’s Christian Cull added: ‘Our ambition was to create a practical but exciting solution to the charging-related issues experienced by many at outdoor events.
‘We hope people harness the power in their pocket to keep them chatting, texting, browsing and photographing throughout the entire festival season.’
The ‘smart fabric’ technology will be unveiled ahead of this weekend’s Isle of Wight Festival and will continue to be developed throughout the summer.