ReciPower.com offers new approach to healthy eating

Currently in the alpha stage of development, ReciPower is an easier way to keep children eating healthy during the critical stages of their development. Specifically, the website is a tool that facilitates meal choices that focus on not only nutritious food choices, but also convenience. By entering basic information in a set number of fields, the system provides users with a healthy meal plan with certain food selections, as well as the approximate total cost.

The system is also flexible, as it also gives the user the ability to mix and match different meal choices. If the current meal selection is not to your liking, you can easily replace it with a brand new meal choice, with the grocery list changing automatically. The website essentially cuts out the organizational aspect of healthy eating that plagues so many attempting to change their eating habits. Counting calories, making lengthy lists, and planning nutritious choices ahead of time is inconvenient and tiresome.

I was given the privilege of having  test run of the alpha version and I was nothing short of impressed.  I input certain key information such as how much money I had to spend on a given day, the number of people I was planning to feed, and if I had any sort of special food considerations such as wanting gluten free products. I won’t reveal all of the questions asked in order to make the personalized meal plan, but upon the completion of this information, I was instantly given an array of diverse choices.

I was given the choice of a protein based meal such as garlic-basil halibut, a complex carbohydrate such as pasta with garden vegetables, and a more unique dish with quick quesadilla pockets. The pictures presented for each item are attractive, yet this is overshadowed by the convenience of the other features. With five meals recommended to me, I was given the option to swap them out for others, or keep them on my list.

This customization ability not only makes the system cater to certain tastes, but also a budget.If I’m committed to a budget on a certain week, I can choose to include cheaper options in my plan such as slow cooker wild rice soup. On the other hand, perhaps if it has been a lucrative week in your professional life, you can choose to add more expensive options such as the salmon potato scramble. When a particular choice is selected, it even displays the exact ingredients needed for preparation, and cooking instructions.

ReciPower is a convenient tool for selecting healthy meals at your convenience. By taking account of the money you have to spend, the time you have to prepare, and how frequently you shop, it’s a system that nearly anyone can get used to. And with the obesity and diabetes rates rising at the current rate in the United States, it’s tools like this that may be the future of healthy, yet convenient, eating.

Spencer Donnelly

Check out the site HERE

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Weekly Recap

This week’s blogs started off with a look at Justin’s nut butter. The local company focuses on premium product and keeping their business sustainable to align with the Boulder ideals. Although the company has expanded across the United States they still focus on keeping the batches small to ensure the integrity of the natural and organic ingredients.

On Wednesday we looked at start-up breweries in the Boulder area. Due to the large amount of micro breweries throughout Colorado there is legislation in place to help protect those smaller breweries from being upstaged by larger brands. In Boulder county alone there are over 40 microbreweries, including The Left Hand Brewing Co. based in Longmont. The microbrewery environment in Colorado is thriving with new flavor innovations being introduced every year.

On Thursday we analyzed the actual benefits of natural and organic food. Leading pediatrician’s claim that organic fruits and vegetables may not be as nutritious or safe for children as they seem. The pediatricians comment that although organic foods reduce exposure to pesticides, the conventional fruit and vegetable pesticides levels are within safety limits. The post describes the direct effects of this study as well as farther reaching negative effects this study could have on the organic industry in America.

 

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Venture Capital Investments in Boulder

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The start-up community in Boulder County has been so strong that it is attracting venture capital from across the nation.  This region ranked number three in 2012 for amount of venture capital invested per capita. The two regions ahead of Boulder were both in the Silicon Valley being San Francisco and San Jose, California. Looking at the bigger picture, larger cities still make up most of the venture capital however when looking at per capita, Boulder is above the rest. Boulder received more venture capital than any other region in 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

The Foundry Group came to Boulder in 2008 and have since generated a $225 million venture fund. The company staff has over five decades of experience in venture capital investing and put that money into companies across the US. The Foundry Group uses the money to help company’s start-up and then foster the growth. The group focuses on adding value to the companies without micro managing and running the company themselves.  However, they always join the company’s board of directors.

Another investment group focusing on the natural and organic Boulder food and beverage industry is Boulder Brands Inc. The development of the “friend equity” model will provide equity capital and will tap into the already existing Boulder Brands infrastructure to help facilitate growth and promote efficiency among the start up companies.”The investment fund will target early-stage growth companies in the natural and organic food and beverage sectors. These companies will operate independently from Boulder Brands but will benefit from access to its infrastructure, resources and expertise,” the announcement said. Companies that Boulder Brands invest in will still be able to operate separately from the investment company.  Boulder Brands is also in the process of moving headquarters to Boulder from new Jersey.

Boulder relies heavily on these investments and the success of many local companies shows that.  Seeing as how food and drink make up a large part of the boulder economy these investment groups are an essential part of keeping the economy healthy. A lot of startup companies fail because they don;t have the funds to finance immediate expansion. With the introduction of these new investment companies more entrepreneurs can hopefully get their businesses off the ground and have a larger margin of success.

In earlier posts we discussed how important the food industry is to Boulder’s economy. With the introduction of the Boulder Brands investment company hopefully more small-time food producers can finance their expansions and continue to do business on a larger scale.

Weekly Recap: April 15th – 19th

Boulder Food Rescue seeks to correct waste

This post by Spencer investigates how a local Boulder firm is making a positive use of previously wasted perishable produce. Boulder Food Rescue is not only benefiting the underprivileged, it is also doing so in an environmentally friendly way.

The Natural-Products Space

Samuel analyzes the distribution of local natural products companies in terms of revenue and employment activity. The layout of annual revenue is surprising, even to Boulder residents.

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

David conducted an interview with a manager from the local sushi restaurant Sushi Zanmai. He extracted keys to success for the establishment’s survival and what makes them different from most conventional Japanese venues.

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Spencer Donnelly

The Natural-Products Space

Boulder is known for it’s thriving natural-products industry, and in this post we’ll consider the economic impact of that industry.  The Boulder County Business Report provides an excellent list of all the natural products companies located in Boulder and Broomfield counties in their 2013 Book of Lists.  CU students can access that list online through the Business School Library here.  The list details 23 companies classified by the Boulder County Business Report as natural products companies.  The list includes information about revenue, employment, and a description of what each company does, along with some other details.

Let’s take a look at the firms’ 2012 revenue.

Revenue

The first thing we notice about this chart, which displays the revenue of the top 5 firms (ranked by revenue) is the elephant in the room – Celestial Seasonings.  Celestial Seasonings is a large, international tea company.  They produce over 70 varieties of tea, as well as other wellness drinks.  Their sales in 2012 were nearly $1.4 billion, fully 89% of the total sales of natural product companies located in Boulder.  The next largest company is Pharmaca, a pharmacy which offers general pharmacy services as well as other natural products.  Their sales were just over $100 million, less than a tenth of Celestial Seasonings.  It’s important to note that Gaiam Inc, nor Boulder Brands, Inc. were included in this list.  Those two companies are both very large, with 2011 sales over $270 million each.  However, at the time of the compilation of the 2012 list, those two companies had not released 2012 revenue figures, and so were not included.  We can see that only a bit less than $22 million in revenue comes from the 18 other firms outside the top 5.  In other words, the top 5 account for a massive 98.6% of natural product revenue.

Let’s take a look at the firms’ 2012 employment.

Employees

We see a much different picture here than with revenue.  Celestial Seasonings employs 251 people at its Boulder location, which is 45% of total natural products employment in Boulder.  It’s also interesting to see that the 18 other firms outside the top 5 account for a significantly larger proportion of employment than sales.  Together, they employ 128 people, or 23%.

Although the natural products space is dominated by giants like Celestial Seasonings, Pharmaca, Gaiam, and Boulder Brands, the small companies in the industry are a significant source of employment in Boulder.  It is because of small, entrepreneurial companies like these that makes Boulder a popular place for companies to form.

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Boulder Food Rescue seeks to correct waste

Boulder Food Rescue is a local non-profit  that is focused on correcting the tragedy of food waste. According to a recent report entitled Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not, approximately 30-50% of all food produced is never consumed.

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This organization is aimed at correcting this deficiency by rescuing and redistributing perishable food items discarded by local organizations, in order to provide for homeless and at-risk individuals. As they state on their website: “Our goal is to help solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food waste in our community.” By the numbers, Boulder Food Rescue boasts the following statistics about their operations within the city:

Boulder Food Rescue:

-16 current food donors

-42 charity recipients

-Average 10 pick-ups per day

-100 volunteers

-Rescued 180,000 lbs. of food

-90% of pick-ups and deliveries powered by bike volunteers

Boulder Food Rescue plays the important role of being a “just in time” organization. They fill a certain gap left behind by local food banks due to their limitations on man power and the type of food that they can accept. Specifically, local food banks do not have the logistical means to take perishable foods and soon-to-expire produce into their warehouses. The non-profit has strategically located bins in certain local retailers or donors, ordinarily between the produce section and the garbage. By utilizing this strategy, it is less work for the organization and the employee to simply donate the items rather than disposing of them. Once per day a volunteer messenger loads these bins onto a bike trailer and transports the produce and perishables to the charity organization scheduled to receive it. The food is then typically served within a time frame of 24-48 hours. These food operations are focused on the organizations dedicated to feeding the homeless, hungry, low income, elderly, at-risk population, and school food programs.

The most intriguing component of this entire organization is that it not only increases efficiency of food allocation in Boulder, it has also proved to be sustainable. By operating between 80-90% on bike power, the organization is environmentally friendly in more ways than one. Current local donors include Whole Foods, Alfalfa’s, Breadworks, Lucky’s, and CU Boulder’s C4C Cafeteria. If you are eager to volunteer with Boulder Food Rescue, your help can be utilized in many different ways. The next new volunteer orientation meeting is Tuesday, April 16th, from 5-6pm at Rad-ish Collective at 710 31st St. Additional information can be obtained through info@boulderfoodrescue.org.

Spencer Donnelly

Boulder Food Rescue can be found HERE

Information about global food waste can be found HERE

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Further Reading Links

Below are some important links from the week. Check out the articles to read more into the topics discussed.

Tuesday: Silk Soymilk Trying to Rebuild Image with Organic Purchasers 

Silk deals with the backlash of  switching from organic to conventional soybeans. You can read more into the details of the Non-GMO Project and where Silk soybeans come from.

Wednesday: Boulder weighs food truck pilot program for city parks this summer

Boulder is introducing new food trucks in  parks throughout the city. The city of Boulder has posted a pilot of the program as well.

Thursday: Slow Money

The above link discusses all of the details of this organization

Friday: The Case for Less Taxation and Regulation of Colorado Brewing and Distilling Industries

You can read more about alcohol regulations on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau website.