White Leaf Provisions
We sat down with Keith from White Leaf Provisions, the makers of the first certified biodynamic baby food in the US, to discuss the need for farm-to-table connections from the very first bites a baby takes and what White Leaf brings to the baby food category.
Can you tell me a little bit about how your company began? What was the spark that said, “Let’s start a baby food company”?
It really goes back to our upbringing. I was born and raised in Ireland in a small town, and all the food our family ate came from our neighbor’s gardens and farms. It was all pure and simple food farmed organically before that was a term. I went on to become a classically trained chef and traveled the world working in many different countries. I had become familiar with biodynamic farming from my time in Europe. My wife Megan spent several years studying in Europe and was developing a love for Europe’s approach to food. We met ten years ago, got married, and after our son Keegan was born, I stopped cooking professionally to be a stay at home dad. I cooked all of Keegan’s food, but, like most parents, I was looking for something that we could easily give him between meals, throw in the car or pack for a snack. I couldn’t find anything in the baby aisle in the US that offered the same level of purity, transparency with a connection to the farms that I’d want in my son’s food. Meghan is the daughter of a serial entrepreneur who started and sold food businesses in the 80s and 90s. Her Dad and I set out to build a trusted family brand that had biodynamic and regenerative farming at the core of all products that we brought to market. Happy to say we launched our first product in Southern CA in October 2018, today our products are available in almost 800 specialty and natural food stores nationwide. It was important for us to do it right and be Demeter certified from the beginning. It’s been a labor of love and an amazing journey. As a family we have always been passionate about pure, simple food, grown in harmony with nature and allowed to naturally develop to be the best food can be, and I believe biodynamic farming speaks to all of that.
With all the options for baby food out there, what distinguishes White Leaf Provisions?
We are 100% Demeter certified. Being certified organic and GMO-free is only a starting point for us. We wanted to offer a level of transparency and purity that was not available in the baby and toddler food aisles. We started with that and worked to develop relationships with farms to source regeneratively-farmed ingredients. The secret ingredient in all of our products is the biodynamic and regenerative farming. With concerns growing over climate change, loss of topsoil, food security and food nutrition, we are proud to launch products that play a part in helping to repair the planet.
What is your mission or vision?
We are working to bring pure family foods to market that are grown in a way that cares for the planet that our kids are going to inherit. We have the baby food, but in a few months we are also launching a line of biodynamic oats and Museli.
What gets you excited about going to work?
It’s most exciting when people discover this level of farming. It’s great that they find the product and not only like the taste but they also get introduced to a deeper level of farming that they never thought about before and it fascinates them. We hear from parents regularly who want to be affiliates and ambassadors for our mission and vision within their networks. We have parents from every walk of life looking at our food and doing their homework to learn more. Seeing parents wake up to agriculture in a new way is exciting.
What are your top three products?
The Carrot, Sweet Potato, Pea; Apple, Sweet Potato, Beet; and Applesauce with Cinnamon are our top three, but all products sell equally well.
What do you think the biggest challenge to the biodynamic food movement is?
I think there are challenges but also a great opportunity. The biggest challenge is that there is a lot of confusion and skepticism surrounding biodynamic farming and people get mixed messages from different farms and companies. Getting farmers, producers, and retailers together to better understand the many benefits of biodynamics seems to be an early challenge that is slowly being addressed. That being said, there’s a huge opportunity for Demeter certification right now, to be a leader in the regen ag space since the certification is and continues to be the gold standard for almost 100 years.