The Value of Heirloom, Fair Trade and Organic

Diners care about where their food comes from, how it is grown, and the degree to which it is processed. In a November 2011 survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association, 78% of consumers claimed to have purchased organic products in the past year. The number one reason cited was “[it is] healthier for me and my children,” followed by concerns about the effects of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, and the desire to avoid highly-processed or artificial ingredients.

Diners care about where their food comes from, how it is grown, and the degree to which it is processed. In a November 2011 survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association, 78% of consumers claimed to have purchased organic products in the past year. The number one reason cited was “[it is] healthier for me and my children,” followed by concerns about the effects of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs, and the desire to avoid highly-processed or artificial ingredients. 

Consumers scanning the grocery-store aisles are aided by stamps of certification on packaging and special areas set aside for natural and organic products. In foodservice you don’t have these tools – instead you’ve got menus and servers to get the message across. Careful and honest use of buzz words such as Organic, Fair Trade and Heirloom will help you move menu items – but only if you get the word out. Here’s how: 

Organic: Only say it if you really mean it. 

Organic foods are produced using methods that do not involve synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, contain no genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. Guidelines and regulations for organic production are strict, and food labeled as such must be certified. 

InHarvest offers Organic Wild Rice, which is Oregon Tilth Certified – one of the most respected names in organic certification. Diners are most familiar with organic produce, so an organically-grown grain has special cache. Serving Organic Wild Rice can be a wonderful way to round out a dish with other organic ingredients, or boost the perceived value of a side dish. 

Fair Trade: What’s fair to say about it? 

Harvest BanaueFair Trade is all about sustainable economic practices in food production. A product can be considered Fair Trade if it is product-certified – indicating that it has been produced, traded, processed and packaged in accordance with Fair Trade standards. Additionally, a product can be considered Fair Trade if it is traded or marketed by a Fair Trade or alternate trading organization.  The first definition is fairly easy to identify – especially as producers have been working towards international labeling standards over the past five years. 

InHarvest offers a Fair Trade product of the second type – several of our Boutique offerings are distributed by Eighth Wonder, a company deeply committed to preserving the traditional Filipino rice farmers' way of life, heirloom varieties of Philippine rices, as well as the historic terraces of the Philippines. Fair Trade menu items have a halo of goodwill around them, and usually come with an interesting story that connects the diner to the grower in a personal way. Learn more about Eighth Wonder and our Fair Trade offerings like Mountain Red Blend, and translate sustainable business practices into sales. 

Heirloom: The Story is in the Seed. 

Kamut BlendHeirloom products are defined in some ways by what they aren’t; they are not genetically modified, and they haven’t been altered for generations. Heirlooms have not been crossbred or maximized to increase yield, so the plant that they produce is genetically exactly the same as it has been for hundreds, or thousands, of years. Heirlooms are important to sustaining a diverse ecosystem – without the careful preservation of unique strains and cultivars they will disappear. 

InHarvest boasts many heirloom varieties of rice, whole grains and beans. Our KAMUT® Blend features whole grain heirloom KAMUT Brand Wheat, an heirloom grain with roots in ancient Egypt, and Colusari™ Red Rice, a strain rescued from a seed bank in Maryland and slowly nurtured back to widespread propagation over the course of 20 years. Adding heirloom to your description of ingredients evokes a sense of history, sustainability and slow food consciousness which will resonate with your diners.