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Local Love: Eat Local, Eat Green

A Valentine’s Day Ode to Local Food Entrepreneurs and Their Grub

It’s the season to share some love, so we’re calling out some local food companies producing yummies right here in our own backyard in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Of course, eating unique, locally produced foods makes it super fun to taste new flavors and learn about the makers who invent these delicacies, but did you know there are also some quantifiable facts to support local eateries and indie food makers?

    1. New flavors & friends: When you commit to buy more local food, you’ll discover interesting new foods, tasty new ways to prepare food and a new appreciation of the pleasure of each season’s foods. Another bonus is that it’s fun to know the story behind the flavors and maybe even meet the food entrepreneur behind the innovative concoctions.
    2. Tastier & smaller carbon footprint: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore arriving fresher, tastier, more nutritious and with a smaller carbon footprint (less fuel used, so fewer greenhouse gases generated!).
    3. Unique & special: Local businesses give a community its flavor. Towns across America have similar chain grocery stores, big box retailers, and restaurants.The same brands and same flavors are repeated again and again on their shelves. Do you sometimes feel bored with such repetitive choices? Do you crave something new, different and unique to your community? By supporting those businesses instead of chains, you ensure that uniqueness is preserved as a part of your community.
    4. Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses. When a consumer buys local, studies have found there’s significantly more financial upside for the local community.
    5. Capitalize local food: Despite their value to our communities, local food entrepreneurs often find it hard to obtain the capital they need to grow. Help them out by buying their products. The good-ole fashioned capitalist engine has birthed many great businesses, so keep on eating local and help your local food entrepreneurs thrive!

To celebrate our local food community, ECOlunchbox has selected five local companies making delicious bites with an eco flair. We've even put together a sweet (and salty) limited edition gift set to give for Valentine's Day which you can purchase here.The way to a person's heart? Local food with an environmental or social impact. Don’t you agree?

Regrained

Eat beer? Yup! ReGrained upcycles the grains used in beer production and makes nutritious cereal bars so that nothing goes to waste. We've seen a boom in the beer industry. In 2015, a study showed that two U.S. craft breweries opened every day. All this brewing requires a lot of grain: roughly one pound of grain is used per six pack of beer. After the brewing process, the industry has classically considered the remaining grain “spent.” At ReGrained, founded by Dan Kurzrock  and Jordan Schwartz (shown in photo at right) and based in San Francisco, they’ve proven the concept that  “spent” beer grain be recovered from the wastestream, harvested and used to close a nutrient loop (so that no nutrients go to waste). We've featured ReGrained’s Chocolate Coffee Stout bars in our Local Love Gift Set, check it out here.

Bitty Foods

Megan Miller of indie food company Bitty Foods

Bitty Foods makes delicious foods with cricket flour. Cricket flour is a tasty source of sustainable nutrition, packed with protein, healthy Omega-3 fats and micronutrients. The San Francisco based company founded by Megan Miller (shown in photo below) starts with sustainably raised crickets. The insects are then slow roasted to bring out their nutty, toasted flavor and milled into a fine flour.

Bitty Foods makes uniquely high protein baked goods such as Cocoa Chai and Ginger Orange Trill Cookies, their new Chirido Chips (coming soon!) or you can grab their high-protein baking flour and bake something yourself.

So why are crickets so green? Crickets consume less water than any other protein, including meat, of course, and even soybeans. Furthermore, cricket protein has the upside of resulting in very little waste and zero greenhouse gases. Insects are already consumed by 80 percent of the world's cultures throughout Asia, Africa, Central and South America... basically everywhere but the U.S. and Europe. So, let’s join the party!

You can try Bitty Food’s Chocolate Chip Trill cookies in our limited edition Local Love Gift Set right here.

Karma Nuts

Ganesh Nair's Karma Nuts is family-run and based in Dublin, California. They operate their day-to-day business with a refreshing "pay it forward" mentality and the business motto "Do Good. Eat Good. Feel Good." They are known for not only their tasty flavors like Peri Peri, and Coconut Crunch as well as their innovative "Wrapped" cashews that retain their natural, nutrition-rich skins. By using eco-friendly packaging (recycled containers) plus premium, high-quality ingredients, the company strives to reflect the good karma they wish to see in the world. They were just recognized as "Best New Snack" by Natural Product Expo West - pretty nifty! You can try out Karma Nurts in our Local Love Gift Set.

 

Jamnation

Jamnation’s mission is to support local and global sustainability by finding the best local variety of fruits and showcasing them with exotic flavors to create bold + bright pairings (with awesome names). To Peach His Own is a mashup of peach and orange blossom. Cardamom Knows Zest is an orange marmalade and cardamom medly. Midnight in Pearis is a pear butter with vanilla and nutmeg mix.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from San Francisco culinary entrepreneurs Gillian (shown in photo below) and Christopher Reynold’s line that’s handmade in small batches without any added pectin. Jamnation thinks about sustainability throughout the entire process, from their recycled glass jars and soy-based ink printed labels to their choice to use only local fruits and eco-friendly packaging materials.

Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

T-We Tea

San Francisco based T-We Tea believes in celebrating community with a cup of tea. Christopher Coccagna and Keir Lee (shown in photo at right) source teas from all over the world grown by small scale artisans so you can sip your tea knowing exactly where it comes from. In T-We parlance, it’s never “just black tea." For example, T-We’s Guurl Grey contains Sri Lankan Ceylon and Indian Assam. More word-play tea names include Sexpot (Chinese Hubei jade green tea with California orange peel and elderflower blossoms), Flaming Prince Charming (Chinese Fujian white peony tea with coconut ribbons and cardamom pods) and Bicurious George (three black teas with coffee and cherry).

Coccagna, founded T-We Tea in 2009 after living in New Zealand, which he describes as steeped in “tea culture.” (T-We is a play on words and rhymes with Kiwi, the nickname for New Zealanders.)

In addition to sourcing single-origin teas, their blending florals, botanicals, and spices are 100% organic, fair trade, and kosher. It’s all mixed together, lovingly, by hand in small batches. Whether they're going for a soft and lovely mouth feel or something stronger, Coccagna strives for creating unique blends his customers can celebrate sip by sip.

Thanks to the Indie Food Hub in Oakland, Calif. and the Women's Environmental Network of the San Francisco Bay Area for their support with this blog feature.

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