Pediatricians evaluate organic foods

Organic food may not be as beneficial as it may sound. It is a constant concern for parents to be providing their children with healthy and pesticide free fruits and vegetables for their growing bodies. However, according to the nation’s leading pediatrics group, organic fruits and vegetables may not necessarily be safer or higher in nutrients compared to conventional foods.

“Theoretically there could be negative effects, especially in young children with growing brains,” said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She continued with: “We just can’t say for certain that organics is better without long-term controlled studies.” These findings in Florida resemble those from a Stanford University study in September. The result of the study can be summarized in saying while eating organic fruits and vegetable have the ability to reduce exposure to dangerous pesticides, the amount of pesticides in conventional fruits and vegetables are within safety limits.

This causes a problem for many parents when it comes to purchasing organic versus conventional fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits found at retailers such as Whole Foods and other organic stores usually charge significantly higher prices for their fresh produce. This can cause a variety of problems for several different segments of consumers. Not only could studies like this decrease the frequency of organic produce purchases due to a lack of incentive over conventional fruits, but it could also have farther reaching effects. Higher prices on organic fruits and vegetables in our modern economy could lead to Americans in general buying less fruits and vegetables. Overall, this would have a negative national impact due to the contribution to the already rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The report continued to state that the most proven methods for avoiding such health problems include frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products that are low in fat, and regular exercise. This however ignores many economic factors for many families in the United States. Often times it is not a matter of choosing the rights food choices for meals throughout the day, a consumers choices are dictated by what he or she can afford. With so much of our food today produced in an assembly line fashion, the cost of certain foods has become the lowest in our history. The negative side to this production efficiency, is that the cheapest food is often unhealthy and lacking in natural nutrients needed for healthy bodies.

Spencer Donnelly

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Spotlight: Justin’s Nut Butter

One of the most remarkable businesses to come out of Boulder, Colorado is Justin’s nut butter. The company is ran by a team of twelve tightly knit individuals and brought in revenue of $11 million this year after being started only five years ago. Justin’s produces both nut and almond butters and recently released a line of chocolate peanut butter cups and candy bars. Included in the mission statement, is Justin’s decree to produce the nut butter in small batches to preserve freshness and ensure quality.  The statement also promises that the products will be made with premium natural and organic ingredients.

Another focus of Justin’s company is the environment. On the company website you can check out the carbon footprint left by each type of packaging, including the caddies that carry the squeeze packs. Included in the information is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per year due to the packaging production and the cost to offset those emissions. You can also see how many miles raw materials travel to get to the production headquarters in Boulder. The website feature a sustainability tab where Justin explains how the company is increasing sustainability in each aspect of the business. For example, the page talks about how the company headquarters is solar powered.

Justin’s acknowledges that it is still a small business yet has already chosen to support a local charity, The Conscious Alliance. The program educates young adults on the severe hunger epidemic. Not only has Justin’s already donated over $12,000 to the charity but they have also donated over 1,000 pounds of product and each member of the staff has volunteered for the charity.

After receiving the Whole Foods Market’s producer loan in 2007 Justin’s found another way to give back.  The company worked along side the Whole Foods Market to found the “micro-loan a month” program. This program aims to help other entrepreneurs not only fund their start-up companies, but also to improve their quality of life. “Micro-loan a month” works in conjunction with Whole Planet Foundation to support entrepreneurs in 55 countries, supporting 1.4 million people worldwide.

The small nut butter company is expanding quickly. The nutritious and flavorful products have been given countless awards. The most recent recognition that Justin’s has gotten is “Best Product” in the 2013 Best of the West Expo. The products of Justin’s are priced high but continue to bring in heavy revenue and are now sold in stores across the country.

Sushi Zanmai’s Keys to Success and Why You Should Eat There

Sushi Zanmai is a popular sushi restaurant in Boulder, Colorado and has been around for 28 years. By winning the Best of Boulder in both the Japanese and Sushi category, it has proven to be apart of the elite sushi restaurants in Boulder. One may wonder what has attributed to their success and why so many customers keep on returning. In order to find this out I had an interview with Younghye Kim, the resilient manager at Sushi Zanmai.

Younghye Kim has worked at Sushi Zanmai for quite sometime now. She started working as a busser, worked her way up to a server, and for the past several years has been hard at work as the manager. Her eccentric and upbeat character makes her a fun and caring manager, but when it comes down to business, she does not joke around.

I asked Younghye why Sushi Zanmai has been so successful in such a competitive area and her reply was, “because the consistency of good service”. At Sushi Zanmai, the employees welcome each customer with a warm welcoming by screaming irrashai, which is the Japanese word for welcome. Another factor to Zanmai’s success is the ability to recognize returning customers and connecting to them on a personal basis in order to make them feel like a valued customer. In addition to these factors, Younghye’s organized managing skills and treating employees with respect are big factors in running such a successful business. Younghye views her employees as a family and treats them as such. Employees enjoy a free meal after work everyday and during that time, they socialize about their personal lives. Zanmai employees also hangout outside of work by attending work parties and gathering to eat food such as Korean barbeque or dim sum on a regular basis.

Additionally, I asked Younghye why customers should choose to dine at Sushi Zanmai over the other numerous sushi restaurants in Boulder. She answered, “Sushi Zanmai has a very upbeat, loud, and fun atmosphere that you don’t expect from most Japanese restaurants”.  This atmosphere is exemplified every Saturday night at 10, where Sushi Zanmai hosts a karaoke night that attracts many customers and karaoke regulars for a crazy and fun night. In addition to the atmosphere, Zanmai can provide fresh fish because they go through their fish quickly and provide not only traditional Japanese food but also Americanized Japanese food. History tells why Sushi Zanmai has been so successful because they have been around for 28 years, and it does not seem like they will be leaving anytime soon.

For further information on Sushi Zanmai visit their official website here.

For further information on the Best of Boulder make sure to pick up their next issue or visit their facebook website here.

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The Importance of Customer Service Within the Food Industry.

Customer service proves to be one of the most important keys to the success of the food industry. A lack of customer service makes the customer feel unwelcomed and disengaged from the restaurant. There is a common saying in the restaurant industry that states people will come for the food, but will come back again for the service. The atmosphere of a restaurant is an important factor to the success of the business and poor customer service results in an atmosphere that drives away potential customers that would come in on a regular basis.

Having serving experience in the restaurant industry allows me to have an insight of what brings back customers on a regular basis and how my hospitality towards the customer attributes to it. Serving at Sushi Zanmai, a restaurant that recently won the best of Boulder award, allowed me to serve customers who I catered to on a regular basis. What I found to be true is that providing a warm welcoming and simply remembering the name of the customer will offer incentive to come back again. Another factor in providing great customer service is remembering what a customer orders regularly because it shows that you remember them and they are a valued customer.

A prime example of a business that shutdown due to a lack of customer service is Jimmy and Drew’s, a Jewish deli in Boulder, Colorado.  Jimmy and Drew’s has recently gone out of business and been replaced by Thai Kitchen. This Jewish deli was the only one of it’s kind in Boulder and was a thriving business only a few years ago, but has gone downhill since. At one point, reputable magazines such as Esquire magazine and The New York Times praised Jimmy and Drew’s. One might wonder what has changed since then, and surprisingly enough it is due to the customer service of the business. Douglas Brown, writer at The Denver Post, wrote that the last time he went to Jimmy and Drew’s there was terrible service from college students who refused to acknowledge him and were not even able to make everything on the menu. It comes to no surprise that shortly after Jimmy and Drew’s closed down. This goes to show the real impact that customer service has on a business.

To read more on Douglas Brown’s article on Jimmy and Drew’s go here.

To read more on why restaurant owners and chefs think customer service is important go here.

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Food Trucks Making a Debut in Boulder Parks This Summer

Food trucks in America have gained a large following and popularity throughout the country. Because of this trend, it seems that the city of Boulder is conforming by allowing food trucks more room to roam the city. This will allow those who wish to sell their food a more cost efficient and less risky way to do so. In addition, it will provide citizens of Boulder closer locations for food and beverages and more business opportunities within the food industry. This new addition of food trucks in Boulder will assist in the growth of the food industry throughout the city.

The city of Boulder plans to implement these food trucks within Boulder city parks and for late-night business in downtown Boulder for intoxicated college students. These food trucks will be allowed within the Tom Watson Park, Foothills Community Park, North Boulder Park, Harlow Platts Community Park, East Boulder Community Park, and the city’s downtown Municipal Campus during the summer.  Number of allowed food trucks and hours will differ between each park. If the Boulder City Council approves the summer pilot program, the food trucks will be able to operate in downtown Boulder this summer.

Numerous downtown Boulder restaurants are concerned about the possible increased competition from these food trucks. At this point, city officials have restricted food trucks from operating within 150 feet of restaurants and residential districts. These restrictions have drawn complaints from food truck owners because they hinder their sales, but restaurant owners are more concerned with their own businesses. Downtown Boulder restaurants pay expensive rent and are in possibly one of the most competitive food areas in the country. All this in mind, the city officials are working on a solution to cater to the needs of both restaurants and food trucks along with what is best for the city’s economy. It seems that the future is bright for the business of food trucks within the city of Boulder.

For further information on food trucks within Boulder go here.

For further information on the mobile food vehicle pilot program for parks go here.

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Natural Food Giant moving headquarters to Boulder

The natural foods giant  Smart Balance is shifting the location of its headquarters from New Jersey to Boulder. Even more surprising than this sudden move to the area, is their decision to change names and NASDAQ ticker symbols. Smart Balance will become Boulder Brands, Inc. in the summer of 2013 as it makes the move to Colorado. The company currently boasts successful brands such as Smart Balance®, Udi’s®, Glutino®, Earth Balance® and Best Life®. The most intriguing features of these brands are their individual commitment to providing uniquely healthy benefits to consumers.

Smart Balance is focused on heart health, Earth Balance on plant-based diets, Udi’s & Glutino on being gluten-free, and Best Lift on contributing to weight management. Boulder is the perfect location for these  individual brands to contribute to longer and healthier lives for the customers that consumer them. The firm also focuses on certain core values of innovation and strong customer support which meshes well with the food and beverage community in the city. Any company that drives awareness and loyalty about healthy, sustainable food projects will likely be received well in Boulder.

This massive move speaks volumes about not only Smart Balance, but also how the food and beverage in Boulder is viewed nationally. The company’s chairman and chief executive officer Steve Hughes recently told the Boulder Daily Camera that he has “always viewed Boulder as the Silicon Valley of food.” This position was affirmed by the president of Naturally Boulder, a local nonprofit that contributes to expanding the Boulder natural products industry. He stated this recently with: “Companies like Smart Balance are drawn here because of the depth of resources our community offers, ranging from brand marketing and creative talent, to product development and finance expertise, to the ready availability of capital for smart, sustainable business ideas.”

This bold decision by Smart Balance illustrates the special environment that Boulder provides for industry innovators, especially those that are environmentally conscious. The unique support from the citizens of the city, capacity for innovation, and ability to rapidly acquire capital for sustainable products certainly justifies their decision to change locations. Last year the company raked in just shy of $275 million in total revenue, with a final net  income of $9.66 million in net income. It will be interesting to monitor the change in their economic performance, whether positive or negative, in their new Colorado environment. With the success that so many other natural food producers have experienced in the city such as Celestial Seasonings and Justin’s Nut Butter, the rise or fall of Smart Balance will be worth monitoring.

Additional information can be found in the links below:

Smart Balance

Boulder Brands

Boulder Daily Camera Story

Spencer Donnelly