Thanks to its location in the heart of the American West, it’s easy to picture Colorado’s agricultural scene as one mostly comprised of ranchland and traditional crops. And that’s partially true: the Centennial State is home to plenty of cattle, and many farms grow high-quality grains and veggies, in part due to the abundance of both sunshine and rich soil.
What sets Colorado apart, though, is the agricultural community’s commitment to sustainability. Colorado boasts 270 certified organic farms and ranches, more than any other state in the nation. That trend continues once the crops are harvested: Colorado-based food and beer companies are on the cutting edge of sustainable foods. Check out these six Colorado companies, each of whom is helping to redefine the food and agriculture sector.
Inspired by twins Lily and Gray Pinto, Salida-based Don’t Go Nuts produces organic snacks free of many common allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, gluten, eggs, and sesame. Lily’s life-threatening nut allergy means that the entire family must avoid nuts, and they’ve embraced it wholeheartedly.
Don’t Go Nuts works to maintain a “Field to Fingers” process to ensure that their products haven’t come into contact with any allergens. The Pinto family built a nut-free facility and requires confirmation from each of its suppliers that ingredients have been handled only with nut-free equipment—so snackers can rest easy as they bite into the company’s delicious, nut-free snack bars, spreads, and dips.
Gluten-free and grain-free diets are fairly common these days—for humans. For pets, though, I and Love and You is doing something innovative: creating minimally processed pet food in which meat is always the #1 ingredient.
As the company points out, a grain-free diet is much closer to dogs’ and cats’ ancestral diets, which is why their products never contain corn, wheat, rice, soy, potatoes, or other “fillers” or additives. I and Love and You also strives to give back to its community: they’ve donated nearly 50,000 meals to pets awaiting adoption in shelters, and their Boulder facility is 100% wind-powered.
Eco-Products’ website proclaims that “we are not a disposable products company trying to act green. We’re a green company who happens to operate in disposables.” And while sustainable disposable products may seem counterintuitive, this company understands that plasticware and paper plates aren’t going away anytime soon, so they decided to make them a little more environmentally friendly. Based in Boulder, just east of Foothills Parkway, Eco-Products make everything from cold and hot cups to take-out containers to plates and bowls (including a line designed for kids). Many of their products are made from renewable resources (like wheat, bamboo, sugarcane), while the rest are made with post-consumer recycled content (like recycled plastic and fiber).
Meal kits containing pre-portioned ingredients and shipped to your door are all the rage these days, but for many consumers, it’s impossible to find a meal service that accommodates dietary restrictions and sources its ingredients sustainably—not to mention the waste associated with all that packaging. Boulder-based Green Chef is the exception.
In addition to the standard meat and vegetarian offerings, Green Chef has an “omnivore” option (think buttermilk-brined chicken and peppercorn salmon), along with vegan, gluten-free, and paleo menu plans. The company’s suppliers meet USDA organic guidelines, are Colorado-based, and/or are certified sustainable seafood suppliers, and Green Chef uses packaging materials that are reusable or recyclable.
The Gosar family has been well-known in the Monte Vista area of Colorado since Grandpa Frank moved there from Austria in 1900. Today, the fifth generation of Gosars are still hand-making European-style certified organic sausages and with no fillers, preservatives, nitrites or additives, and no MSG. While some of the sausages are new creations, most of them are old family recipes that have been passed down, and they even use some of the original equipment from Grandpa Frank’s time.
Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing Co. has made something of a name for itself—these days, its beers are available in 11 states. But there’s more to Odell than its popular 90 Shilling Ale. Odell uses about four gallons of water per gallon of beer, as opposed to the national average of around seven gallons.
It’s powered in part by 11,000 square feet of solar panels, and Odell aims to have its production send zero waste to the landfill by 2020. And those are just the traditional measures: Odell’s also looking into recapturing carbon dioxide released during brewing in order to carbonate its beer, and working with the city of Fort Collins on a plan to use spent yeast as a method of treating the city’s water.
Out in southeastern Colorado, in the town of Lamar, is Colorado Mills—a zero-waste, full-cycle company creating kosher and organic sunflower oil. Founded in 1999, Colorado Mills’ factory is close to where the sunflowers are actually grown, and about 80 percent of the sunflower seeds that the company processes comes from within 100 miles of the town. Working with local growers cuts down on shipping costs, too. The leftover sunflower meal from the oil production process is then given to local farmers to feed to their livestock.
Originally written by RootsRated for Choose Colorado.
Featured image provided by Nick Harris