It’s a big deal. Where does your food come from? When we watch a Sysco truck pull up to a restaurant to unload food we just aren’t impressed. Are we hyper-critical? Some might say so. When we source food for our family, we look for local food, animals raised naturally on pasture by other families. At the same time we value balance and know that in this off kilter world today we have to be flexible in our own lives and we understand that for you too. I don’t know who needs to hear this but we don’t expect people to be perfect and don’t think you should either. We still eat bread sometimes (Don’t tell the carb-police), we still eat at some restaurants along a road trip that most certainly use seed oils, and if we feel like a coconut shipped from out of the country well, so be it. It’s the world we live in. And not holding some level of flexibility just doesn’t seem natural.
But when it comes to AUPA we decided we would not compromise. Could we get ingredients from outside of the USA? Of course. Would they be cheaper? On the wallet, yes. For our health, the health of our country, family farms, and the world at large, maybe not. And that’s one of the problems we see with the world. Money leads corporations around, rather than values. We want to see that change. And we also want to be ourselves while doing it.
We’re homesteaders. Which means we value the ideas of sovereignty, permaculture, growing your own garden, raising your own children, and letting the eternal knowledge of the universe guide you. Building greenhouses and chicken coops, raised beds, and root cellars. And when you dive down this rabbit hole you find ideals, things like Bitcoin and watching seeds grow while your kids play with earthworms in the background.
Lets pull it all back in. Food. We like knowing where ours comes from. We can trust ourselves to grow our own meat, our own eggs, our own fruit and vegetables and it’s reassuring that we can feed ourselves with what we grow. But I’ll be straight with you. Raising your own food to feed your entire family all year is a lot of work. And we want community. A group of people who all want to help provide for each other.
I want to provide you good food. I want to support others in the community who want to raise good food. And to us, good food looks like pasture raised animals, raised on land being resuscitated from the last 100 years. To leave off the chemicals. To try to find a balance with natural cycles.
And so when we could choose to use dehydrated butter with things like maltodextrin, guar gum, or colorings in it, instead we choose to source minimal ingredients from good people, using good techniques, and good sourcing themselves. It was surprising to me that sourcing ingredients to the standards we want is a challenge. We need more people asking for these products.
Fruit and Berries
When we started AUPA we used berries sourced from the local grocery store which we then dried ourselves. It’s costly and time consuming at our scale. So we moved to pre-dried berries. Yikes! I’d like you to take a look at the ingredients. It’s tough to find dried fruit without added sugar. My daughter tells me, “Fruit is nature’s candy.” And I think we should take that advice from a 4 year old. We do not need to add sugar. I don’t need it on mine.
Nor do I need the seed oils! They’re bathed in it. They soak it up. If you don’t know much about seed oils and the whole history behind that you should really check out Nina Teicholz book The Big Fat Surprise. I’m sure there are others but hers is the book I read. It’s very compelling. Enough so for me to turn away from seed oils in my dried fruit. Eliminating added sugar and seed oils decreased our options considerably.
And then if we take other values in mind we started analyzing the farms these berries come from. This led us to Hummingbird Wholesale where we were able to source fruit locally grown by small farms in and around Oregon’s Willamette Valley. If you haven’t been there it’s memorably beautiful. We spent a good amount of time there while WWOOFing out of our old VW Van (yeah we did that). They shared this awesome video of who they source their blueberries from, check it out.
On our summer road trip we plan to visit Hummingbird Wholesale and the farms where they source our berries. To get a “Shake your Farmer’s Hand” perspective. AUPA may be in Colorado but American is local to us. And these are American farms supporting local communities. And we just love that kind of thing.
Did you know a lot of nuts are brought in from China? Yeah. I’m not interested in food from China (I won’t get into the why’s here). Again I want to support local American growers. Most local sources of nuts here in Colorado are disappointingly from China and when you move up to larger scale sourcing you might get some sourced from South America, Italy, or Mexico. No offense to these areas but our goal is to help support the American small farm economy. Researching companies price lists, country of origin lists, and ingredient lists (you never know what else is on a product labeled almonds). We found that when we asked about product sourcing we were told American farms and then received a box saying grown in Mexico. Company honesty is a value we hold close. Don’t believe that your companies are being honest unless they prove it.
Thankfully Hummingbird Wholesale was there for us on the nuts too. With high quality ingredients from American farms. We plan to visit our orchards this summer too.
You probably haven’t been paying much attention to the butter market these last few months but wow, the price on our butter has almost doubled since we started. We looked and looked for a cheaper source because we know our bars are more expensive then others on the shelf. But ultimately we wanted pure grass-fed butter from American cows and they were the only dehydrated pure grass-fed butter from American cows we could find! So we contacted them and were able to purchase large quantities at a wholesale price. Phew! What an important product to get right. 138 Foods Inc is the distributor of our grass fed butter powder and we’re hoping to visit their facility this summer too.
I’m happy to say there are some very awesome tallow companies in this country. We source our tallow from Sulu Organics in Illinois. As a consistently quality wholesale supplier we love their product but are continuing to test with other suppliers for considerably harder tallow. We know the quality is here and hope to learn more from Sulu about the American grass fed ranches they source from. But for now we are still settling on our best tallow source.
Oh the controversy we’ve stirred with adding honey to our bars. But we want kids to like them too. So if you’re a zealot and honey is off the menu then we highly suggest The Carnivore Bar. We want to help people on the Standard American Diet to regain their natural food taste buds and we want families, who may already make a lot of their own real food, feed their kids healthy foods that won’t cause a complete childhood meltdown. There’s a balance and why can’t our bars be an enjoyable snack with high natural nutrition, and a touch of sweet. We do have plans for savory flavors in the future so hold onto your butts.
Our honey is soon to be sourced from Bee Squared Apiaries. Beth has been beekeeping for 20 years and runs an apiary local to us with wholesale capabilities (the USDA has some requirements we all have to jump through, most of them make sense to us for keeping products clean and people honest). Her honey is raw and we have clover, alfalfa/wildflower, and orange blossom options we’ll probably try each of them and see if anyone notices a difference or raves about a different flavor. That’s part of the fun of running your own small business, experimentation.
Finally, Our Beef
Rob has written an extensive article about our beef here. So I suggest learning further details there.
But for a quick rundown, we really care about our main ingredient. BEEF. We want to eat animals raised on grass, in pastures being restored, and local to us. We certainly didn’t want to support the Big Four (Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef) meat conglomerates. And while there are arguments here and there on grass fed vs grain fed, we like the idea of grass fed beef. So that’s what we use.
Jason Wrich, a Bitcoiner and our rancher often says, “Shake your ranchers hand.” So we shook it for you. Wrich Ranches in Crawford, Colorado and Flying B Bar in Strausburg, Colorado are our current sources of beef. And we love our ranchers. They’re yours too. American raised cattle for reals, not like they label it in the grocery stores.
So enjoy your AUPA Bars! We’ve worked hard to source the simple yet not always easy to find ingredients that we want to feed our kids. And we want to give this not so simple simplicity to all of our customers too. We will continue to dig into the who’s and where’s of our products to make sure that our distributors are honest. We want to stand behind our ingredients and be proud that they are sourced from American farms, raised right, and have no weird and unnecessary additives. As we grow we want to be able to say we shook our farmers hands and truly know our sources. Follow our small business journey, eat an AUPA bar, and sit back for some road tripping come June.
If you have suggestions for food sourcing that meets our standards and values don’t hesitate to contact us.