Eating and living organic: Q&A with Brian Freeman, co-founder of Grower's Organics
Colorado stands at the forefront of the nation's organic movement, and Grower's Organic is helping to lead the way, finding organic suppliers and then connecting these farms with retail outlets, delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to more than 150 restaurants, grocery stores and local co-operatives across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas.
Provided by Grower's Organic Farmers at Full Circle Farms in Longmont.
Grower's Organic cofounder Brian Freeman grew up eating organically. In the following interview, he discusses the joys of sustainable living, which restaurants are doing it right...and how some restaurants are doing it very wrong.
Westword: How have Colorado organics changed in the last twenty years?
Provided by Grower's Organic Brian Freeman of Grower's Organic.
Brian Freeman: I would say that really a lot of the farms have made their production more consistent with national standards. What I mean by that is that I think that the farmers have really raised the bar in Colorado on how they used to harvest products as opposed to today, and the products they use in terms of bug control and working better with the water limitations. The whole organic industry has risen to the challenge to make organics more mainstream. In the past, people in the industry said this is the way we're doing it and people better accept it, but now it's a force so large that big stores would leave those small guys behind if they didn't get with it. These mainstream companies are looking for a higher return than small companies provide.
How does Colorado compare on a national level?
Colorado is definitely in the top five of organic awareness. I think we are really a pioneer, getting more products out there and embracing the lifestyle. California still provides about 90 percent of organics in the entire country, so it's actually the pioneer. Though I love Denver, Boulder is an epicenter for organics. People have to take note because a lot of the largest organic companies have come out of Boulder. Whole Foods started in Texas but was not anything that Wild Oats was. It was more marketing while Wild Oats started with everything organic. Vitamin Cottage, too, is now going to a national level to the Stock Exchange and bringing in bigger investors. The name change to Natural Grocers was part of that movement to go public to create an identity more than a vitamin store. They only sell organic produce in Natural Grocers, and that's a big deal in my opinion because they are making a stand that a lot of people won't. It's organic or nothing.
We are a force to be reckoned with in a place where the talent comes from. I get a lot of applicants from around the country and they don't generally have organic experience unless they are from California or here. That's always a huge indicator for me that there's really nothing big to speak of east of us. I know there are small pockets everywhere, but we have taken it to the mainstream level.