Undo Food the “Root Way”

Good morning to you! I hope your weekend was a pleasant one filled with lots of relaxation and happiness! This time of year, any weekend (or weekday, for that matter) is a positive one that is snow and storm free, in my opinion, for more reasons than one. Never a real fan of the cold and inclement weather that often accompanies it, the Spring, Summer and often times, Autumn, are times of year I look forward to for the warmer/sunny weather and the abundance of flowers and crops sprouting. That being said, recently, I was provided with the opportunity to experience a taste of the warmer months and the gardening that often accompanies it within the comfort of my very own home! At this point, you might be wondering, what in the world could she be talking about?! A garden within her own home? Keep in mind, I live in a relatively small condo/townhouse development where the grass and backyards are anything but plentiful. Yes, there is a small lawn the condo association takes care of, but there is minimal, if any, room for a garden of my own, much to my chagrin. Therefore, the opportunity I was presented with was appealing, exciting and a project I couldn’t wait to dig into (literally!):

ALL the “Root“WAYS: Learn How to “Undo Food” with Back to the Roots:

Back to the Roots Founders 2

A relatively new company, Back to the Roots (www.backtotheroots.com), having formed several years ago is well on its way to revolutionizing the food, nonprofit, science community and beyond! Founded and based out of Oakland, California, two friends and former roommates at UC Berkeley, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, made the choice to forgo a career in the corporate world and focus on the unique and innovative ways/methods of nourishing the public. Having learned in a college class of the ability of mushrooms to grow entirely on “spent coffee grounds,” they made it their goal to investigate further and ultimately transformed their careers in the midst of their experimentation. Identifying themselves as “full-time mushroom farmers,” Arora and Velez operate under the philosophy they refer to as “Undoing Food.” According to their website, they “undo food,” with the goal of “reconnecting families back to where food comes from through fun and delicious ready-to-grow and ready-to-eat products.”

Back to the Roots Founders

Back to the Roots History/Mindset:

  • According to the official Back to the Roots website (backtotheroots.com), they are a multi-faceted company aspiring to meet the changing and evolving needs of families and people in general.
  • They fully operate under the belief that “all food comes from the kitchen, not a lab; and where Research & Development teams aren’t biochemists, but our grandparents”, so to speak.”
  • Community-Based: Heavily community-based and oriented with a strong interest in education and youth, as whole, emphasizing the importance of food and natural fuel. They stress the importance of making learning fun and enjoyable within the classroom through incorporating their full product lines and philosophy.

Back to the Roots logo

Back to the Roots Website/Social Media Platforms:

  • The Back to the Roots website is filled with a vast array of resources – everything from recipes incorporating their products, links to their curriculum, a Press page featuring all of their recent awards/accolades/interviews, a tour of their facility, and an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the founders and their team.
  • Online Ordering: All products are available for online ordering, with free shipping provided for orders of $25 or more, PLUS, if you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll be entitled to a one-time discount of 15% off your next order.
  • The team at Back to the Roots is always open and welcome to feedback and encourages new customers, fans and those who are curious in learning more to reach out via their website, or social media pages.
  • Social Media: Come interact and follow Back to the Roots on their assortment of social media platforms – Twitter: @Backtotheroots Facebook: Back to The Roots Pinterest: @Back to the Roots & Instagram.

Back to the Roots PRODUCT LINES: Having familiarized yourself with the company, you might be wondering, so what exactly are these products? Well, take a tour of the products below and prepare to be intrigued and amazed:

Back to the Roots Product Line                 Back to the Roots Product Line 2

READY TO GROW Products: (http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-grow & http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-eat)

  • Mushroom Farm: Grow gourmet, organic Oyster mushrooms out of the box in 10 days! Lasts for months in the box, unopened. Simply open the box, mist with water and harvest days later (as stated on their website); non-GMO, 100% home-grown.
  • Garden-in-A-Can Set (4-pack): organic seeds and soil – plant, water and grow on your windowsill! Available in Basil, Cilantro, Sage and Dill.
  • Water Garden: A self-cleaning fish tank that grows food! It uniquely creates a “closed-loop ecosystem” – the fish feeds the plants and the plants clean the water! The garden comes with a fish tank & gravel, organic seeds/grow stones, natural fertilizer, coupon for Betta fish, fish food and a silent, submersible water pump.

Back to the Roots Garden in a Can

READY-TO-EAT Products: (http://backtotheroots.com/collections/ready-to-eat)

  • CEREALS: No bag-in-box (sold in recyclable cartons with non-toxic vegetable inks, 18% less paper and 25% less plastic than traditional cereal boxes). Available in the following varieties:

Back to the Roots Cereal Line

California Whole Wheat Stoneground Flakes: 100% whole wheat from Califiornia; organic cane sugar from Florida and sea salt from San Francisco Bay)

Cocoa Clusters: 100% organic stoneground whole wheat from California, pure-non-alkalized cocoa from the Dominican Republic, organic cane sugar from Florida, sea salt from San Francisco Bay)

Purple Corn Flakes: 100% non-GMO purple corn from Minnesota; organic cane sugar from Florida; sea salt from San Francisco Bay.

  • Organic Breakfast Toppers: add flavor, texture, variety and color to your favorite cereal (hot or cold), yogurt, pudding, and/or other recipes/foods. Available in the following varieties:

Back to the Roots breakfast toppers

Raisins, Sunflower Seeds and Buckwheat

Blueberries, Almonds & Buckwheat

Dates, Coconut and Chia Seeds

My PERSPECTIVE/Experience:

As I previously mentioned, much to my chagrin, my living space does not allow for much of a garden or growing environment for plants, flowers or other crops. Therefore, Back to the Roots provides the unique opportunity to fully grow my own herbs, mushrooms, and other plants right from the comfort of my own home! It is a company like no other and one that is truly dedicated to providing wholesome, safe and nutritious foods for all. The herbs grown in the can are fresh and flavorful and it takes a short period of time to grow them!

As the daughter of a teacher, their strong belief and presence in the world of education is one I fully support and appreciate and am glad to see their full integration.

From the mushrooms sprouting from the mushroom farm, to the ready-to-eat cereals like the Cocoa Clusters (my favorite – I’m a huge fan of the crunchy, cocoa taste, which is sweet, but not overly so with the right amount of texture, holding up well in milk and yogurt!), the possibilities are endless. The concept of the breakfast toppers is one I’ve never seen before, either, and one I truly appreciate, especially the variety with blueberries, given blueberries are relatively pricey this time of year! With Back to the Roots, it’s hard to be disappointed!

Now, let’s take a trip back into the different projects and initiatives Back to the Roots incorporates into its culture:

Back to the Roots education

Back to the Roots within the Classroom (http://backtotheroots.com/pages/curriculum):

As a unique facet of the company, Back to the Roots offers a fully-developed curriculum which accompanies each Back to the Roots Ready-to-Grow-Product. The curriculum helps children understand each product while still enforcing the common core for science. The curriculum is comprised of three units:

  • Unit 1: Mushroom Farm
  • Unit 2: Water Garden
  • Unit 3: Garden-in-a-Can

On the website’s curriculum page, teachers/educators can find and download the curriculum, associated activities, and other teacher resources for each unit. Plus, teachers/educators may be able to receive discounts on the product line and are urged to contact the appointed point person on their website. Plus, as an added bonus, for each photo Back to the Roots receives of the crops grown in classrooms, Back to the Roots will proudly donate a Ready to Grow product to the classroom of their choice!

“Grow One, Give One & Pour it Forward” Campaigns/Initiatives:

  • After buying a Ready-to-Grow or Ready-to-Eat product, simply take a photo with a product or recipe you created with the product(s) and upload it onto the Back to the Roots website and a product donation will be made in your honor to a classroom of your choice! When purchasing and enjoying Back to the Roots products, it is truly an opportunity to both enjoy and contribute to your community or a community in need!

Well, there you have it! I’d like to give a world of thanks to Morgan and the entire team at Back to the Roots for providing me with this incredibly unique and eventful opportunity to sample all the Back to the Roots products! It was one I thoroughly enjoyed and was impressed with; they truly are “undoing food,” in all the “root” ways!

Back to the Roots mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

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Sips from the Farm: Hydrate the Califia Way

Good Morning! I hope your Wednesday is off to a pleasant start! If you’re like me, one of my favorite meals is breakfast. When I was much younger, (think middle through high school years), I was not a breakfast-eater by any means. In the mornings, I was cranky, tired and eager to return to sleep and therefore eating a healthy breakfast was the furthest thing from my mind (of course, I often regretted this mid-day when I was ravenous and gobbling crackers, etc). That being said, nowadays, breakfast each morning is a staple and one I look forward to! Complete with a steaming mug of coffee and a banana, I tend to rotate my morning meal between cereal (a various assortment of types for variety and flavor!) with milk or yogurt (either non-fat Greek or nonfat traditional style).

Choosing the type of milk I add to my cereal and/or cook/bake with is one that can be rather involved, or at least one that requires some choice and thought. On any given day, a trip to the grocery store dairy department affords shoppers with a plethora of milk options. There is everything from traditional dairy (i.e. cow’s milk), coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, combinations of almond-coconut or almond-cashew, and the list continues. Not only are there different flavors and types, but also an extensive brand list.

A couple months ago, while browsing the dairy department at my local grocery store, a uniquely-shaped, sleek, long-necked bottle caught my eye, reeling me in. Within minutes, I was opening the glass door, removing the intriguing bottle from the case. I was pleased to see it was almond milk (though there was an array of other types, as well) by the brand, Califia Farms. It was a brand I’d never heard of before, but given the claims imprinted on the bottle (unsweetened, non-GMO, environmentally-friendly, etc), I was sold and placed the bottle in my shopping cart, eager to return home to try it!

Califia Farms Logo                Califia Farms Almond Milk

Soon after trying it in my cereal bowl, the Califia Farms line of milks were instantly added to my milk repertoire, making a point to place it in my cart the next time I shop. With a vast array of product lines and offerings, each experience with Califia Farms is bound to be a unique and exciting one!  Thus, as I began to try more Califia Farms‘ products, I was thrilled beyond belief to be provided with the unique opportunity to sample one of their new holiday beverages (other holiday options includes: Peppermint Mocha, Holiday Nog, etc) – Pumpkin Spice Latte made with almond milk! As one of the biggest pumpkin fans around, their new Pumpkin Spice Latte combines nearly all my favorites; pumpkin, coffee, and almond milk! It is truly a one healthy treat in a cup! Plus, it is naturally-sweetened, low-calorie and refreshing. Upon trying it, I was instantly delighted, envisioning all I would enjoy it with (on its own as a refreshing, hydrating beverage, cooked into oatmeal for subtle pumpkin-java notes, added to smoothies, milkshakes – the possibilities are truly endless!). Plus, the flavor of pumpkin truly shines through with a subtle sweetness. It is a taste of the holidays in a glass! 

Califia Farms Holiday Drinks

As a brand, Califia Farms (www.califiafarms.com) is dedicated towards the community and it’s customers, operating as a transparent company who is honest in their practices and geared towards providing healthy, nourishing beverages. They are consistently active on several forms of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter – @CalifiaFarms, Pinterest, Instagram and also maintain their own blog- http://www.califiafarms.com/blog/ where they publish recipes featuring their products!).

Califia Farms Logo 2

Company Background: (accessed via http://www.califiafarms.com)

  • A grower-owned company based in San Joaquin Valley, California, according to their official website (www.califiafarms.com), Califia Farms was founded by Greg Steltenpohl, with a goal of “creating the most remarkable company of the future, powered by plants.”
  • The unique name, Califia Farms, comes from the warrior queen, Califia, who ruled over California, as an earth goddess, storyteller and mother. The warrior queen is identified as an icon of California’s “heritage and healthful bounty.”
  • 100% of coffee in their beverages is grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms (meaning farmers follow more sustainable agricultural practices, protecting forests, rivers, soils and wildlife. Workers are also afforded respectable/better wages and living conditions)
  • Community Oriented – Supports Xerces Society to support Bee Biodiversity; works with BOXSMART to reduce waste and recycle up to 20,000 lbs of paper per month.
  • All cartons of Califia Farms‘ products are 100% recyclable, so not only can you feel good about what you’re drinking, but you can also help in keeping the environment beautiful!

Califia Farms CEO      Dairy Free symbol

General Califia Farms‘ Product Information/Facts:

  • All products are non-GMO, with forthcoming plans for organic versions, as well.
  • Products are acceptable for cooking and can be used in identical ways as cow’s milk.
  • All are Gluten-Free.
  • 50% more calcium than cow’s milk (added by calcium carbonate)
  • Fresh for 7-10 days within opening.
  • Califia Farmsjuices are freshly-squeezed and bottled at their own juice plant.
  • Sweeteners used = pure cane sugar and/or monk fruit concentrate.
  • By the end of 2015, Califia Farms will have an entire carrageenan-free portfolio.

Califia Farms Almond Milks:

Califia Farms Horchata   Califia Farms Almond Milk

  • Unsweetened
  • Vanilla
  • Unsweetened Vanilla
  • Original
  • Coconut Almond Milk
  • Chocolate Coconut Almond Milk
  • Barista Blend (coffee-creamer)
  • Classic Cinnamon Horchata (new)
  • Vanilla Coconut Horchata (new)
  • Holiday Nog (new)

Califia Farms Single Serve Versions:

Califia Farms Single Serve

  • Vanilla Protein
  • Chocolate Protein
  • Chocolate Almond Milk
  • Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk

Califia Farms Coffee Creamers:

Califia Farms Creamers

  • Original Almond Milk
  • Pecan Caramel
  • Hazelnut
  • Vanilla

Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffees:

Califia Farms Iced Coffee

  • Peppermint Mocha (new/seasonal)
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte (new/seasonal)
  • Concentrated Cold Brew (new)
  • Cafe Latte
  • Double Espresso
  • Mocha
  • Salted Caramel
  • XX Espresso
  • Mocha Mexica (new, single serve)
  • Dirty Chai (new, single serve)
  • Triple Shot (new, single serve)
  • Cocoa Noir

Califia Farms Aqua Fresca (fruit drinks):

Califia Farms Aqua Fresca

  • Cranberry Cocktail (new, seasonal)
  • Mango Chili Lime (new)
  • Pineapple Ginger (new)
  • Watermelon Ginger Lime
  • Strawberry Basil
  • Kiwi Cactus Lemonade

Califia Farms Citrus Juice:

Califia Farms Juices

  • Tart Cherry Lemonade
  • Lemon Limeade
  • Lemonade
  • Orange Juice
  • Tangerine
  • Limeade

So, there you have it! With an extensive product line, Califia Farms truly offers a beverage for everyone! To find out where Califia Farms is offered nearest you, be sure to check out their store locator via their website (califiafarms.com/store-locator). Happy Sipping!