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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Boulder Breweries

Colorado proves to be one of the most productive states for smaller start-up brewery businesses due to their flexible laws. Colorado state laws allow brewers who produce less than 300,000 barrels a year to sell their product directly to liquor stores, and another law that prevents large retailers from having more than one store with a liquor license ensures that the small retailers aren’t put out of business. Laws such as these allow for local small business growth in Boulder.  Microbreweries in Boulder are plentiful and growing in numbers. Currently Boulder houses more than 40 microbreweries.

One of the more popular breweries includes The Left Hand Brewing Company located in Longmont. They are currently thriving and have been popular since 1994.  My personal favorite beer from The Left Hand includes the Nitro milk stout that has a rich, dark, and smooth taste. Another brewing company worth mentioning is The FATE Brewing Company, which is Boulder’s first craft brew-bistro. This brewery offers higher-end food alongside more than 30 rotating house brews.

Boulder’s Walnut Brewery, located right off of Pearl Street, is another popular brewpub. John Giuffo provides a critique on their Indian Peaks IPA, in which he says, “It was crisp, a little dry, hopped up but not obnoxious about it, and surprisingly smooth”. Another beer that John reviewed included their Buffalo Gold, a sweeter, lighter beer that was opaque, with honey, caramel, and lemons. Finally, their Emersum Oyster Stout was the last to be reviewed. This unique beer is a stout mixed with mashed up oysters that possesses a dark-espresso taste. These breweries are key examples of how Boulder proves to breed successful breweries.

For further readings on John Giuffo’s review go here.

To learn more about The Left Hand Brewing Company go here.

To learn more about The FATE Brewing Company go here.

To learn more about Boulder’s Walnut Brewery go here.

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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.

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

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 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.


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.


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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