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The 14 Most Progressive Food Companies

by
author image Sara Jayne Crow
Sara has served as Editor-in-Chief or Contributing Writer for a variety of magazines, such as Dubious and Minty in Seattle, XLR8R of San Francisco, Chicago’s Blacklist, the New York-based Flavorwire, Los Angeles' URB, and Resident Advisor of Berlin. Sara specializes in well-bred content and content marketing for a range of industries, from fashion and fitness to finance, hospitality, technology and entertainment.

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The 14 Most Progressive Food Companies
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To advocate greater health for yourself and the environment, being conscious of what goes into your food and how it’s produced is vital. Ginger Hultin, M.S., RD, LDN, a Chicago-based dietitian at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and president of the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, “Unprocessed whole foods should be the foundation of our diet. If you choose fresh, organically produced products you can naturally avoid exposure to added colors, flavors, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones and environmental pesticides.” The demand for healthier options as well as transparency of where and how our food is produced is growing, and the food is beginning to shift to meet these demands. Consider our list of the 14 most-progressive food manufacturers whose products you can feel good about eating.

1. Earthbound Farm
Courtesy of Earthbound Farm Organic

1 EARTHBOUND FARM

Earthbound Farm was created 30 years ago by husband-and-wife team Drew and Myra Goodman. As transplants from Manhattan to California’s Carmel Valley in 1984, the couple settled on a raspberry farm and set out to harvest organic crops. Theirs was the first company to distribute prewashed and packaged organic salad mixes. Today, their range of products includes salad kits, frozen fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, snacks, herbs and smoothies. Their new PowerMeal Bowls feature grab-and-go combinations of blueberries, quinoa and baby spinach or tomatillos, black beans and baby lettuce. You can shop for Earthbound Farm products at Whole Foods, Albertson’s, other major retailers and online.

Related: Check Out Earthbound Farm’s Products

2. Vital Farms
Courtesy of Vital Farms

2 VITAL FARMS

Vital Farms is an Austin, Texas-based farm that supplies eggs to grocery stores and restaurants from California to Maine. The company was conceived in 2007 by Matt O’Hayer and his wife, Catherine Stewart. Matt grew up on a farm with chicken coops and sold eggs door to door at Brown University’s campus in Rhode Island. His passion for farm living and sustainability was seeded at a young age. Today, he has proven that it is possible to commercially produce and distribute high-quality food in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, all while treating animals humanely. Home to “the happiest hens in the world,” Vital Farms champions pasture-raised chicken farming that allows each of their hens at least 108 square feet of space. Their eggs range from USDA Certified Organic to non-GMO Project verified to conventionally fed. You can find Vital Farms products at Whole Foods and Vons, or use their store locator to find another location.

Related: Where to Find Vital Farms’ Products

3. Navitas Naturals
Courtesy of Navitas Naturals

3 NAVITAS NATURALS

Navitas Naturals defines itself as a “superfood” company with organic, sustainably cultivated, plant-based, minimally processed, globally sourced and nutrient-dense foods. They are committed to sustainable agriculture, socially responsible business practices and fair-trade opportunities benefiting developing regions. Products range from a variety of superfood powders, pastes, dried fruits, nuts and snacks to cookbooks. These include Amazon rainforest-sourced acai powder (a low-glycemic berry high in antioxidants, omega fats, protein and fiber) and chia powder (derived from organic chia seeds, which are rich in fiber, protein and antioxidants). Navitas Naturals’ products are available at Whole Foods and some major retailers as well as local natural-foods stores. They can also be sourced online at Amazon.com.

Related: More Info About Navitas Naturals

4. Alvarado Street Bakery
Courtesy of Alvarado Bakery

4 ALVARADO STREET BAKERY

The Petaluma, California, bakery was featured prominently in the 2009 Michael Moore documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” where the company is hailed for its innovative business model in which each employee is given a share in its cooperative, granting equal voting rights on business matters, salaries and benefits. Sustainable efforts include supporting agricultural practices and healthy living of their employees, suppliers and customers. Originally founded in 1979, today Alvarado Street Bakery manufactures a variety of whole-grain products, including flavorful breads made of fiber, flax and sprouted wheat, bagels, pizza bread, buns, tortillas and granola. Alvarado products are available online from their website and in major retailers like Safeway, Walmart, Costco, Sprouts and several other locations.

Related: Where to Find Alvarado Street Bakery

5. Applegate Farms
Courtesy of Applegate Farms

5 APPLEGATE FARMS

Applegate Farms products feature humanely raised meats free of antibiotics or hormones. While the entire product line is not organic, they do offer a wide array of organic products, including turkey bacon, Andouille sausage, oven-roasted chicken breast and chicken strips. An official statement on their website states: “Our standards ensure that the meat and poultry used in our products come from animals that are humanely raised on family farms in an environment that allows them to move about freely and exhibit natural behaviors…. Animals are also fed an all-vegetarian grain or grass diet without antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products…. [and we require] humane slaughter practices.” You can purchase Applegate Farms’ products at your local Whole Foods, Target and other major retail markets.

Related: Where to Find Applegate Farms Products

6. Organic Valley
Courtesy of Organic Valley

6 ORGANIC VALLEY

The Organic Valley cooperative supports rural communities as a collective of family-owned farms. The company was founded in 1988 with the mission of providing organic food products as well as championing the welfare of people, animals and the earth. Organic Valley was created in the coulee region of Wisconsin at a time when corporate interests threatened family-owned farms. Founder George Siemon wanted to grow nutritious produce without harmful pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Today, with 1,687 member farms, the company distributes a variety of organic, farm-fresh products to numerous national grocery stores. They also offer a “Grassmilk” line, which comes from cows that are 100 percent organic and grass-fed. Their dairy products include milk, cream, cheese, butter, produce, meat, eggs and healthy snacks, among others. You can purchase Organic Valley products online or at many local retailers.

Related: More Info About Organic Valley

7. Seeds of Change
Courtesy of Seeds of Change

7 SEEDS OF CHANGE

While Seeds of Change manufactures several food products, their exhaustive product catalog also features gardening supplies, natural pest control and organic fertilizers. All of their food products are 100 percent certified organic from precooked food like microwaveable brown basmati rice and Caribbean-style rice to tikka masala and korma cooking sauce for busy cooks. What’s more, the company founded the Seeds of Change 1% Fund to donate one percent of net sales to sustainable organic-farming causes, including Conservation International and the Environmental Working Group. Buy Seeds of Change through their online shop or at other locations like Safeway, Walmart, Target and Whole Foods.

Related: More Info About Seeds of Change

8. Earth’s Best Organic
Courtesy of Earth's Best Organic

8 EARTH’S BEST ORGANIC

Earth’s Best family of products includes infant and toddler food, kids’ snacks and cleaning products. The company mission is to supply beneficial foods for infants and children during the most integral phases of development, since “organic foods are great for infants and toddlers because they help minimize the amount of hormones and pesticides children are exposed to…. We really don’t know the long-term effects of these chemicals on children,” according to Dr. David Helft, as a statement on Earth’s Best Organic’s website. Their food products feature only organic, non-GMO ingredients, and most of their items are made with whole grains. They also ban added salt and refined sugars as well as artificial additives and coloring. You can purchase Earth’s Best Organic at Whole Foods, Toys “R” Us, other major retailers and online.

Related: More Info About Earth’s Best Organic

9. Late July
Courtesy of Late July

9 LATE JULY

Late July is an independent, family-owned company that produces organic, non-GMO snacks. As a mother of two, the owner Nicole sought to create flavorful snacks with health benefits that her sons could enjoy. Late July also boasts a line of snack chips made with 100 percent whole grains and omega-3s featuring Dude Ranch, Mild Green Mojo and Sea Salt Seashore flavors. You can purchase Late July products at Whole Foods, Gelson’s and other national chains.

Related: Where to Find Late July Products

10. Golden Valley Natural
Golden Valley Natural

10 GOLDEN VALLEY NATURAL

The Idaho-based Golden Valley Natural has been producing and distributing a line of organic jerky that is free of artificial growth hormones, nitrates and preservatives since 1968. Golden Valley Natural treats livestock humanely on its free-range ranch: Cows are allowed to freely roam pastures of their native stomping grounds. Beef and turkey jerky flavors include Black Pepper, Teriyaki, Sweet n’ Spicy and Bar-B-Cue varieties. Oddly, Golden Valley also has a range of humane buffalo products -- rib-eye steak, strip loin, top sirloin and jerky. Purchase Golden Valley online from their website or online.

Related: More Info About Golden Valley Natural Products

11. Bragg Live Foods
Courtesy of Bragg

11 BRAGG LIVE FOODS

Bragg Live Foods was founded in 1912 with the healthy-lifestyle motto, “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, say and do.” Founder Paul C. Bragg claims to have opened the first health-food store in America and developed his company to advocate a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, juicing and antioxidants. Their products are staples for a well-rounded diet, especially Bragg Liquid Amino Acids, a GMO-free concentrate of liquid proteins derived from soybeans that can be used as a soy sauce, salad dressing or seasoning. Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast is another nutrient-dense, vegetarian and gluten-free seasoning product high in B vitamins. Other products include organic apple-cider vinegar, organic olive oils, salad dressings, cookbooks and more. You can purchase Bragg products online or at GNC, Kroger and Whole Foods.

Related: Where to Find Bragg Live Foods Products

12. Green & Black’s Organic
Courtesy of Green & Black's Organic

12 GREEN & BLACK’S ORGANIC

Green & Black’s was created in 1991 by Craig Sams, founder of Whole Earth, and his wife Josephine Fairley, a magazine editor and journalist. The couple produced a line of fine organic chocolates to please any palate while maintaining fair-trade standards supporting organic farming techniques. Their product line, although simple (it includes chocolate bars and a hot-chocolate mix) -- includes unique flavors like spiced chili, ginger and hazelnut and currant. The Maya Gold Dark Chocolate Bar combines flavors of orange, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla, and the exotic Spiced Chili Dark Chocolate Bar delivers a touch of heat with pink peppercorn, juniper berries, ginger, cassia and star anise to round out its flavor profile. You can purchase Green & Black’s online at Amazon.com or at retailers such as Pavilions and Vons.

Related: More Info About Green & Black’s

13. Wildbrine
Courtesy of Wildbrine

13 WILDBRINE

With a selection of raw, vegan, non-GMO-certified and fermented foods, Wildbrine marries the traditional process of brining and fermenting with inventive culinary recipes. Because raw products preserve the nutritional value of harvest crops, Wildbrine products are rich in probiotics and vitamins. Their product line includes unique flavor combinations like Japanese Miso, Horseradish Kimchi and fermented Salsa Cortido (cabbage, carrot, apple, red onion, chili peppers and ginger). Find a retail location offering Wildbrine products on their website, or visit national chains such as Whole Foods, Ralphs and some natural-foods markets.

Related: Where to Find Wildbrine Products

14. Straus Family Creamery
Courtesy of Straus Family Creamery

14 STRAUS FAMILY CREAMERY

Straus Family Creamery CEO Albert Straus founded his company on the traditional values of farming, humanitarianism and providing for future generations. Straus created what was the first-ever 100-percent certified-organic creamery in the United States. His product line of delicious dairy products includes milk, cream, ice cream, yogurt, butter, sour cream and a product called Nu Scoop, which is described as an energy bar in a four-ounce cup. Straus advocates renewable energy by reusing water and packaging, transforming methane gas into electricity and treating their herd of cows well. Cows are not given hormones and they roam in open pastures and sleep in open stalls with mats and natural bedding. Popular products include treats like Brown Sugar Banana Ice Cream and Organic Maple Yogurt. You can find Straus dairy products at Whole Foods, Gelson’s or other niche markets.

Related: More Info About Straus Family Creamery Products

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you make food choices based on the company and their practices? Have you tried these products? Are there other products that you think should have made the list? Please let us know in the comments below!

Related: 12 Health Trends That Are Not Healthy

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