Most kids are like little detectives when it comes to identifying healthy foods. They can taste our efforts to substitute in whole wheat flour, blend in extra veggies or swap sugar for honey. But my most recent substitutions went surprisingly unnoticed. I didn’t hear a complaint when I traded my kids usual wheat bread for organic sprouted multigrain and when I offered them a sprouted chocolate chip cookie, instead of having it handed back, I was told it tasted “very good!” Apparently The Landcaster Food Company gets it – and in more ways than one.
Not only have they made healthier food options taste good, they’re doing it while improving the community around them.
This month, we spoke with Charlie Crystle, Co-founder & CEO of The Lancaster Food Company to discover how they’re making it all happen.
Q: Your mission is to make good, healthy food and positively impact the city of Lancaster. Talk about how you've accomplished that and why it was important to you.
Lancaster's poverty rate is around 30%. We started the company to hire people out of poverty by making the best possible organic foods, sourcing from organic farmers as close to home as possible to support the local organic farming economy. Poverty is a complex issue, but we felt and still feel that good jobs are the fastest path out of it. We wanted to create jobs that meet people where they are--with respect education, former employment, and obstacles to employment like records of incarceration. We've had some impact, but we're still small and it will take substantial growth to really make a difference. That said, we sparked a social-impact movement here in Lancaster, with many new and existing companies adapting $15/hr as their starting wage. Once we put the employee ownership plan in place, we'll evangelize to other businesses to do the same. We believe people should participate in the value they help create--beyond basic wages and benefits.
Q: What makes your bread and cookies healthier than most other options we find out there?
Most large commercial bread makers use the cheapest, commodity organic flours, and like conventional bread makers they'll add nutrients to make up the difference. Our nutrients come entirely from the ingredients, primarily the grains. We source high-quality, high-protein organic flours from relatively small mills, including some within 60 miles of Lancaster. Also, unlike other companies, most of our breads contain no refined sugars. Our organic honey wheat has only 1 gram of sugar, and that's from the organic honey and organic raisin paste, which we use for shelf life and flavor. As for our cookies, they were designed with the same philosophy. We do use organic sugar, but at least it's Fair Trade certified, as is the chocolate.
Q: Can we find your products in stores?
We mostly sell through stores in the MidAtlantic region--some Whole Foods, some Wegmans, and lots of independent stores. In California we sell through Grocery Outlet. We also sell all of our products through our online store at http://www.thelancasterfoodcompany.com.
Q: Are you looking to expand your product line?
We deliberately took the name The Lancaster Food Company because we intend to make a range of high-quality organic foods. Early on we made amazing organic salsas with produce from local Amish organic farms, but we decided we needed to focus and really didn't have the equipment or space to scale that business. But we're ambitious. We'd love to be in a position where we’re the trusted source for organic food.
Posted on Tue, August 21, 2018
by Elise Edwards filed under