Health Mix: Reimagining Plant-Based Foods and the Rise of Kombucha

Thanks to ever-increasing consumer demand, foods with healthy, cleaner, and less processed ingredients are becoming more and more accessible throughout the industry. Hosted by brand consultant Yareli Quintana, the Health Mix podcast is committed to exploring all things “healthy” and unpacking what the term truly means in relation to emerging brands, foods, and lifestyles.

In the podcast’s opening two episodes, Quintana chats with Tyler Lorenzen, the CEO and president of plant-based food producer Puris, and Melanie Wade, the founder of kombucha and fermentation company Cultured South.

First founded in the 1980s by Lorenzen’s father, Puris supplies other brands that sell plant-based products in stores with nourishing, high quality pea protein. The company also helps participating brands with crafting product recipes.

Lorenzen describes Puris as part of the “intel” behind the plant-based movement.

“At the heart, we’re a seed company,” says Lorenzen. For him, the concept of the company has always been “that if we’d design better seeds, people will grow more organic and non-GMO crops. And if they could grow them, we’ll buy what they grow back and then make them into great tasting food. And that great tasting food will feed people the nutrition they need.”

The ultimate goal for Puris is to rework the system from feeding plants to animals and feeding animals to humans to simply having people eat healthy and delicious plants that fully meet the nutritional needs of humans.

As a former athlete, Lorenzen is particularly excited by the growing movement in athletics and sports nutrition toward plant-based products. “Athletes are choosing plant-based for performance reasons,” says Lorenzen, adding, “Can you sustain human life and have a highly nutritious life by plant based proteins? The answer is unequivocally yes.”

Listen to the podcast above to learn more about the history of Puris, the company’s current goals, and the future of the plant-based industry.

Cultured South is the offshoot creation of Wade’s original kombucha company—Golda Kombucha, the first and only kombucha company in Atlanta. The concept was inspired by Wade’s Grandma Golda, an avid kombucha maker and drinker. Golda Kombucha products are currently featured in over 100 Kroger and Whole Foods markets.

Cultured South is essentially a marketplace for local healthy southern food. The marketplace is also adjacent to a 1,200 square foot tap room that offers twelve different types of kombucha on tap, a vegan cheese tray, local crackers, pickles, and jam, and local vegan and dairy gelato.

“I wanted to create a space where people in Atlanta could come together over a love of kombucha and fermented things,” says Wade. The goal was “to experience and educate and not necessarily have to have alcohol in play to coordinate and connect with one another.”

Kombucha enthusiasts highlight the drink’s benefits for your gut and gastrointestinal tract. The drink is nutrient-dense and filled with probiotics. For Wade, the drink is the perfect alternative to the sugary and syrupy sodas currently available in today’s market.

Sustainability is a key element of the company’s mission. Cultured South recently switched from glass to cans, as Atlanta does not recycle glass.

“It’s really changed our business for the better,” notes Wade. “We can produce a lot more. It’s the most sustainable way that we’ve ever made kombucha because our product is 100 percent recyclable.”

Check out the podcast above to learn more about the benefits of drinking kombucha, the numerous flavors Golda Kombucha and Cultured South offers, and about water kefir—the probiotic beverage Wade terms the “mellow cousin” to kombucha.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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Protein Farmers Changing the Landscape of our Food System

Poultry farmers in the United States face an ever-evolving host of issues today: the use of antibiotics, animal welfare concerns, sustainability, proper waste management—and all while trying to make a profit.

Chicken has a relatively small carbon footprint when compared to other meats, and the concept is not showing any signs of slowing in terms of customer popularity. According to Foodable Labs, chicken has seen consumer demand for chicken inclusion on menus rise by 19.8 percent, and chefs have added chicken to menus by a rate of 23.9 percent.

Protein Consumer Sentiment Ranking

Chicken is second only to plant-based meat—an exploding industry—in terms of consumer sentiment. But consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of the food that they are eating, and the methods in which food is grown or raised. For all of the benefits of chicken, those benefits can be lost or lessened if the chicken is mishandled or mistreated.

Tyson Foods is working to make poultry farming efficient and affordable while still adhering to best animal well-being practices and its high standards for food quality. The corporation currently contracts over 4,000 independent poultry farmers, and pays over $800 million each year for their services. Jacque, a current poultry farmer in contract with Tyson, has loved her and her husband’s years of working with Tyson.

“Some of the best blessings we have is from farming,” says Jacque. “We think Tyson represents quality, it represents hard work. It represents animal welfare and everyone working together to advocate for a healthy happy animal.”

“There’s nothing factory farm about our farm,” adds Jacque. “This is a family farm. It’s how we make a living, and it’s how we teach important values to our children. There’s nothing factory about it.”

On average, contracted Tyson Foods poultry farmers have worked with the corporation for over fifteen years. Contracts are generally negotiated to last at least three to seven years.

Contract farming at Tyson Foods gives farmers peace of mind: their compensation is not at the behest of the rise and fall of corn, soybean, and other chicken feeding ingredients. Tyson exclusively provides all of the feed farmers need. Poultry farmer compensation is instead determined based on how the chickens are cared for and overall bird weight gain.

Most major poultry processing companies use a similar performance-based pay program. And according to a 2014 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contract poultry farmers have a higher median income when compared to other farm households.

Poultry farmer contracts are highly regulated at the federal level to ensure farmers’ rights are protected. All contracted poultry farmers have the right to:

  • end a contract with 90 days notice

  • a 90 day notice of contract termination from the processor

  • join an association of farmers

  • seek the advice and counsel of outside parties regarding their contract.

Tyson Foods also offers a program for struggling farmers to help improve their performance and avoid the need for contract termination.

Poultry farmers contracted by Tyson Foods must also—pre-contract—fulfill a list of modern housing specifications to ensure proper ventilation and a comfortable bird living environment. Maintenance concerns and necessary repairs must also be completed in a timely manner. Any technical or animal management problems are handled by Tyson Foods service technicians and animal welfare specialists.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To see more content like this, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Tyson Chicken Chips are Packed with Protein, Flavor, and Possibility

Customers are increasingly asking restaurant operators for the same thing: a creative, tasteful meal that is rich in protein and flexible enough to enjoy regardless of whether it is ordered in a restaurant or at home for delivery.

Tyson Foods has a solution: Tyson chicken chips. Dippable, scoopable, shareable, and loadable, these chips are simply fun. Suitable for salads and appetizers as well as full entrees, Tyson chicken chips have that homey, familiar look that many customers love while still providing them with the nutrition they need.

Tyson chicken chips include ranch and smoky barbecue flavoring options. Recipe possibilities are truly endless, though check out the video above for a few recipes currently popular with customers, including a southwest-style entree, a buffalo-inspired appetizer, and a delicious caesar salad option. The chips can be as healthy or indulgent as you prefer.

Regardless of your selected recipe, Tyson chicken chips are easy to prepare. They are heated from frozen by either deep frying or baking the chips in an oven until they appear a crispy golden brown. The process typically takes no longer than five minutes, making the chicken chips a quick, flexible option for both your customers and your employees.

This post is brought to you by Tyson Foods. To see more content like this, visit The Modern Chef Network.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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Restaurant Masters on Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints and Disability Discrimination

Employee lawsuits can be costly for both sides of a case. Former litigator and current restaurant employment lawyer Lexington Wolff uses her practice to advise industry owners who wish to avoid such lawsuits in the first place.

For the two launch episodes of the new podcast Restaurant Masters, guest host Wolff discusses the right way to approach sexual harassment complaints and disability discrimination.

With the rise of the Me Too movement, sexual harassment has become a more public concern for restaurant owners and industry operators. If a complaint is not handled effectively, a restaurant’s reputation can be irretrievably damaged overnight.

As a litigator, Wolff watched employers spend an “unbelievable amount” of time, money, and resources to defend themselves in court. And the individual cases were, almost always, completely preventable.

“The way you address this issue has an enormous impact on your workplace culture,” says Wolff. “The legal standard for sexual harassment is that employers have to stop conduct that they either know or should have known was happening in the workplace.”

Restaurant owners need to have a plan and protocol in place for complaints—including alternate channels of reporting. And complaints need to be taken seriously and fully investigated.

“There’s no such thing as an allegation that’s too small or too insignificant,” adds Wolff. “You want to make sure you do absolutely everything you can to show your employees that you care.”

Listen to the podcast above to learn more about cultivating a healthy workplace culture and the importance of decisive action after conducting a sexual harassment investigation.

Many employers today still only think of disabilities in the context of their common physical manifestations—deafness, blindness, or the need for a wheelchair. But mental disabilities are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and restaurant owners need to be careful in ensuring that they are doing all that they are legally required to do for their employees and potential hires.

“There’s no definitive list of disabilities under the law,” says Wolff. “And mental conditions are equally protected.”

According to Wolff, 8.5 percent of charges in 2018 disability discrimination cases were related to anxiety disorder, and 7 percent were related to depression.

Wolff encourages her clients to remember to keep the conversation open and supportive when approached by an employee asking for a disability accommodation. “Handle it on a case by case basis,” notes Wolff, “and work on it together with [your employee] to determine a solution.”

Check out the podcast above to get a deep dive into the rules for discussing a disability with a potential hire, and to better understand the concept of undue hardship in regards to requested disability accommodations.

Produced by:

Darisha Beresford

Darisha Beresford

Production Manager / Sr. Producer

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Dunkin’ Partners with Beyond Meat for a Plant-Based Breakfast

Dunkin’ is adding plant-based meat to its menu. The fast food chain has partnered with plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat to offer the brand new Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich.

As of yesterday, the sandwich is already available to purchase in 163 Manhattan locations. The chain appears poised to offer the sandwich nationwide in each of its 9,400 Dunkin’ locations by 2020. According to Dunkin’, this is the first time a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich has ever been sold in any restaurant in the United States.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, CEO David Hoffmann affirmed the company’s commitment to the product. “We absolutely believe this will move the sales needle for us. It’s a damn good product.”

Dunkin’ is responding to a growing consumer demand for plant-based meat products. And Dunkin’ is hardly the first fast food chain to recognize and invest in the concept: White Castle, Red Robin, Burger King, Little Caesars, and a number of other businesses have also partnered with plant-based giants like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. With plant-based now a billion dollar industry, it has become clear to restaurants large and small that meat substitutes are well worth investing in.

The Plant Based Foods Association reports that over the past year, plant-based meat sales has gone up by 10 percent, while refrigerated plant-based meat has gone up by 37 percent. Beyond Meat stock has also surged post-IPO by a whopping 734 percent according to Business Insider.

Hoffmann noted to CNN that for now, the company is still in the process of considering vegan sandwiches. “Right now we’re targeting flexitarians,” says Hoffmann. “[We] want to make sure that as we roll this out, we can give the customer a chance to customize this.”