At Rhythm Superfoods we’re passionate about fostering food education, encouraging healthy habits and positively impacting the environment, both at our headquarters in Austin, Texas and our manufacturing plants and farms in Mexico. Our impact begins and ends with our products and mission to bring nutrient-rich snacks to consumers. We realize that there are many areas of sustainability where we can have a positive impact. We’ve chosen to focus our sustainability initiatives around farming, manufacturing, packaging and community involvement.
The below provides an outline and brief overview of our sustainability initiatives:
More specifically, our farmer scorecard mentioned holds our farming partners accountable for the following organic and regenerative agriculture practices:
We are committed to work with our Farmer Partners so that by the end of 2020, all our farmers will score an 85% or higher on our sustainability scorecard. We will work with our farmers who are currently below the 85% to help them achieve the 85% score in regenerative agriculture practices and make improvements to their sustainability processes.
In addition to farming, the three other areas we focus on for our sustainability initiatives are: manufacturing, packaging and community involvement.
We’re excited for this next year and to see the positive impact we can have in the many communities we touch. Stay tuned on our as we will be updating our community regularly on our progress towards our goals.
Recently, we sat down with our garden expert Kate. We’re so appreciative to have found an Austin community member who is so passionate and experienced in building community gardens. Kate has been a tremendous help in spearheading our garden partnership with St. Elmo– a local elementary school within a mile of our office. Our goal through this partnership is to provide opportunities for students and the local community to learn how to grow fresh fruit and vegetables and develop a connection to healthy eating. See below to learn more about Kate’s involvement in the Austin community, our partnership with St. Elmo Elementary School and tips for starting your own garden!
Q: How did you first become involved in community gardens?
A: I started front yard gardening about 20 years ago and shared the bounty with friends and neighbors. In 2012 a few things happened. The City adopted the Imagine Austin Master Plan and embarked on a community engagement process that lasted 18 months. There was an incredible interest in protecting our green spaces, improving access to our greenbelt and trails, and for growing food locally. Food was always #1. During that same period of time, Austin was experiencing an explosion in population growth and development, and our community’s green spaces were disappearing at an alarming rate. And personally, I ran out of sun in my yard. 🙂
One Saturday, my husband and I built and installed 2 raised bed gardens at the front of our neighborhood at South 1st and Emerald Wood on City-owned land with a sign that read “Food is Free.”
Eventually, we installed a water tap, secured The Sustainable Food Center as our fiscal sponsor and gained City-approval. The Emerald Wood Community Garden currently supports at least 20 families, if not more. We don’t fence it because we were founded on a core believe that food should be free if you need it.
Q: How can a school community garden impact the livelihood of the students – and the broader community?
A: St. Elmo is a Title 1 School which means that 70% of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch. Most of the students live in two Foundation Communities properties, a progressive apartment complex system, which provides stable and long-term affordable housing. Residents have access to dry goods like beans and rice through a food bank in their apartment, but they don’t have access to produce. Now they have a small farm stand that opens one afternoon every other week, but they don’t have a place where they could go out every day to harvest.
We have a lot of land at St. Elmo. It’s our destination park for our community and it seems that engaging the community (especially 1st generation immigrants who aren’t that far removed from agriculture) and giving them the opportunity to grow their own food works because many remember gardening in their home country. That was part of it and then the new principle at St. Elmo – Mr. McCormack just secured funding for all St. Elmo students to have free breakfast and lunch starting in the fall. He envisions a garden to café model. The goal is that we start to utilize the food we grow to feed our kids and that all the supplemental food is for the families or for an affordable farmers markets for the families.
Q: What’s your grand vision for St. Elmo Elementary School?
A: What’s really awesome about St. Elmo is that there was nothing there when we started our partnership. I believe there are 7 acres co-owned by the city and the school district. We are putting in 10 raised bed gardens. We won a Bright Green Future School Grant for large scale rainwater collection. We’re looking around a 3,000-gallon capacity and an outdoor watershed education classroom.
There are two different areas where we could have small orchards – we’re looking at 14 fruit trees going in two different areas. There’s also an area where the kids are not allowed to play, as it’s too close to South 1st. It’s over half an acre and the principal loved the idea of that being our farm. Ideally, we will install the micro-farm in the fall and the 5th graders will run a farm stand. We don’t know the details; we’re hoping to work with Farmshare and the Central Texas Food Bank.
When we participated in the Imagine Austin community engagement process, one of the other things that came up repeatedly was the desire for more places to see music and other forms of creative and artistic expression. Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the world and what a better place to build than a neighborhood school! St. Elmo was on everyone’s radar because there is so much space and it’s completely underutilized at this point. The plan is to build an outdoor stage on the backside of the music portable with a painted mural backdrop. We’ll plant trees to protect from the west sun. We have already expanded one fence line to capture more green space for the school and we’re expanding another one so that we have more places for people to sit for live performances.
Q: What other Austin community sustainability projects?
A: Currently I’m working on a lot; I’ll pick the big ones. The Emerald Wood Community Garden is the one that we started about 7 years ago. Across the street from that is an early childcare center and we started a gardening and outdoor classroom program 3 years ago. The children in the Early Childhood Care Center garden at the community garden and on site.
All of this sits on the Williamson Creek and we’re working on the Williamson Creek Greenway Visioning project. Once complete, the Williamson Creek Greenway will connect McKinney Falls State Park in far East Austin to far West Austin separate from auto. There are hundreds of homes along this stretch that have been demolished as part of a flood buyout and are now open green space. They aren’t all together, they are in little pockets. We have 5 distinct pockets that we can create park amenities, trails, community gardens, orchards and places for people to congregate in the greater St. Elmo Elementary attendance area.
Q: What tips do you have for someone wanting to start a garden at their home?
A: It’s easy to start. It’s a little bit harder to be successful. We do a lot of raised bed gardens because we have so much drought here and it’s a really good way to keep your plants watered. We use ollas, a sunken terra cotta pot that’s unglazed, filled with water. The roots tap underneath the surface. That allows us to not do much top watering and lose it to evaporation. When you top water in that kind of environment it helps weed seeds germinate. It keeps the weeds down and it keeps the plants growing from the roots.
At a school raised bed gardens using the Square Foot Gardening Method is awesome because it’s very mathematical. A 4’x8’ garden box is 32 cubic feet and so if you were to run string you would have 32 squares and 32 individual crops in every garden box, planted at different density levels. We’re going to have 10 garden boxes so we’re looking at 320 different crops if we wanted to. It’s a way to grow very intensely without a lot of water.
I would start with a garden box with untreated wood, you don’t want it to leach into your soil. My favorite has been rough cut cedar, like first cuts of Ash Juniper, but 2 x 6 cedar works well too. Bermuda grass is an Austin gardener’s nemesis for gardens, so we put down 3-4 inches of cardboard. It is a natural weed barrier that will break down in about a year and provides habitat in the process. We’ll put down about 3-4 inches of cardboard allowing for a one-foot border, lay the box on top, place the ollas where they reach as many plant roots as possible. If we have bagged leaves, those go in next. Add a good quality garden soil, something that fluffs it up a little, either a peat moss or a vermiculite, and finish the project off with 3-4” of mulch outside the box, covering the cardboard.
Then we plant them and give them some love and compost tea. The following season will be much better, it really takes about a year for the soil to settle in. At this point now you have your garden box, and it should be filled all the way to the top. All you need to do is top compost and lightly mix it two or three times a year. You never need to till. Some people don’t even pull their plants when they’re finished, they’ll cut them because there’s so much nutrient value in the roots.
Q: What’s your favorite Rhythm Superfoods snack?
A: I love kale chips – pretty much any flavor; I was surprised how much I liked the Zesty Nacho. The Sea Salt Beet Chips are my other go-to when I want something a little sweet.
Thanks Kate! Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our partnership with St. Elmo Elementary School.
While you may think Rhythm Superfoods is run by robots, we promise that’s not true. We’re moms and dads (that includes fur parents too!), brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, food enthusiasts, adventure-loving, music-loving, superfood gurus.
So basically we’re not much different from you!
We’re passionate about what we do, the people we do it with, and want to share a little behind the scenes about us so you can feel like family too.
Our Accounting & Finance Team is all about numbers! Whether they’re processing orders, forecasting or ensuring our customers are always happy, they’re an amazing part of the Rhythm Superfoods team that keeps us running on a daily basis!
On July 24th the Rhythm Superfoods team stepped away from our desks to enjoy some of our favorite parts of Austin and beyond. Our mini retreat was filled with great food, team bonding and learning more about some of our favorite superfoods!
We started the morning off at the Rhythm office enjoying breakfast tacos from Torchy’s Tacos before driving to our first stop, Boggy Creek Farm. Located in East Austin, Boggy Creek Farm is one of the country’s first urban farms and home to one of the oldest existing homes in Austin. Fun fact, Austin use to be the spinach capital of the U.S.! Our friends at Boggy Creek Farm generously gave us some okra and cucumbers to enjoy in the office. We also learned that many Austin restaurants source their produce from Boggy Creek Farm. It’s great to be reminded that the community of Austin shares our passion for fruits and vegetables and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
After our morning stop at the farm, we headed to CB’s Lounge at Stubb’s to dive deeper into what it means to be a part of the Rhythm Superfoods team. The team tasted some exciting new snacks while thinking about how we can better ourselves individually (challenging each other to improve our gardening skills with a gardening challenge) and as a team. Of course, our next activity also involved food because our team loves to eat. We watched (and later tasted) a fun and informative cooking demo from The Naked Bite, an organization focused on teaching and catering “plant forward” meals. Chef Amber taught us how to make raw cacao nut truffles and spicy tropical cauliflower ceviche with coconut milk and peanuts – both delicious vegan items!
Next we hopped on a duck boat for a tour of the city by land and water as we learned about the history of downtown Austin on our way to the water. The heat didn’t stop us from seeing some of Austin’s greatest sights including the Historic Sixth Street, the State Capitol Building, the Governor’s mansion and the beautiful Lake Austin.
Back on land, we headed out of Austin to Dripping Springs Hill Country Casitas. We continued our theme of learning about growing produce with a trip to Hawk’s Shadow Winery. Our curious team had lots of questions on the process of making wine. We enjoyed great views of the Texas Hill Country with our wine tasting and appetizers from Gourmet Gals. I especially enjoyed the beet & hummus bruschetta featuring our Naked Beet Chips! The team enjoyed a delicious dinner and catching up with old (and new) team members.
The next morning over breakfast we brainstormed innovative superfood snack products and flavors and ways to make our current products even better. We are so grateful that our team shares a passion for eating right with snacks that are both flavorful and nutrient dense. We are already looking forward to learning more about growing produce and enjoying great food and company at our next retreat!
…a follow up to “My Health Journey“.
It’s been over 90 days since Rhythm Superfoods CEO Scott Jensen went back on Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet so we followed up with him to find out how things were going.
A: I feel really good! I think most people who go through a fitness or health commitment needs reinforcements early on to keep them going before it becomes habitual. Someone who works out all the time has made it a habit: wake up, workout, etc. versus someone just starting workouts who has former habits they need to break.
The habit breaking is hard, but you feel it quickly when the weight starts coming off – which right now I’m hovering around 9 lbs. less than where I started. You physically feel that and it’s a reinforcement to keep going. My belts are looser, you start looking through the closet for those old pair of jeans you might fit in again.
And the other side is when you’re carrying weight, you feel it too: getting out of bed, walking, running, or at the end of the day the compression on your knees. Believe it or not, when you are heavier you feel those things. You hear these clichés about being “in tune” with your body and when you are heavier than you want to be, you don’t talk about it as much, but you do feel those things.
Then suddenly you start shedding the weight and you notice there are less aches and pains. I feel more agile when I’m kicking the soccer ball with my kids. And I feel that with just 9 lbs. off…I want to lose another 20lbs.
The first couple of weeks, I was way more tired particularly from the change in the diet. I found myself unprepared for protein solutions, so the carbohydrates are giving you these quick ups and downs and adding the workout part of it meant I wasn’t prepared for how tired I was going to be. But you do see a swing where you figure things out and the workout energizes you and you start feeling more energy later in the day. So…it takes a commitment and a belief system that you’re going to see it on the other side of the tunnel. And that’s happening.
A: I’m really busy and keep a very full schedule. Trade shows, customer meetings, broker meetings…all that stuff is part of my life and those are habits too. Your calendar is what it is, and you’re involved in all these things, and you realize 85% of places that you’d normally grab a bite don’t have the things that you’re going to need. I don’t want to say that it’s not there. But because it was a habit, I’d look at the menu and not even realize that a ton of places have a vegan menu – even if it’s a separate menu, particularly in Austin and other larger cities. I found it difficult to be prepared with plant-based protein sources during travels. Whether it’s almonds or a No Cow Bar, you need the protein to level out your energy. Vega Protein Powder with rice milk has been a quick fix when I’m at home, but it’s hard to travel with. Also, I just didn’t prepare for that and wasn’t sure which powders I’d like so I tried several things over the first few weeks that I didn’t like.
Meals in the house were something I was accountable for, so the challenge was “what do I like that’s available?” Compared to when I first did this diet 7+ years ago, there weren’t many vegan options for quick meals versus how many options are available now. Rip’s focus is on cooking meals yourself, but because I’m on the run a lot I needed solutions that were quicker. I needed to adjust and find the things that were going to give me lasting energy throughout the day, so I found my favorites and stuck with those.
A: No Cow Bars, VEGA Protein Powders, Amy’s Kitchen, Gardein, and an Instapot for cooking up some beans and lentils. Trader Joe’s frozen veggie meatballs are also great! I’ve probably only tried 10% of what’s out there, honestly.
A: Besides the average 9 lbs. lower in weight, the bloodwork markers I discussed with my physician are all in a very good direction. LDL down 14%, Glucose down 10%, A1C in the “good” range. Triglycerides didn’t improve, but that could be an anomaly, so we’ll check in 3 more months.
A: Yes! It wasn’t until ~2-3 weeks in because that also needed its own kick-start. My wife started going to Orange Theory Fitness so I started going with her for early morning workouts. I had been a member of an awesome gym, but this just comes down to efficiency. The workout has got to be really close to home. I love the technology of Orange Theory Fitness – heart rate monitor, you see your numbers on the screen, you have splat points, etc. It’s fitting and motivating me. They have some great music too during the 55min workouts. No socializing, just hard work and that’s what’s working for me. Occasionally with a busier travel schedule, I have to shift focus away from workouts at times. When I’m not traveling as much I have more time to get in my workouts.
A: I fancy myself as a chef more than a foodie. I’m pretty good in the kitchen and the grill and I love doing it. The atmosphere of pulling different soup stocks together and creating different meat/protein-based meals, and the deglazing and creating sauces in a pan…I miss that. I miss the flavors. I think with some of the vegetable base stocks that I’ve got, I’m getting that “umami-ness”. There’s an umami mushroom powder that delivers on the savory flavor that you generally get with those other protein-based meals. But I’ve found some solutions, and there are ones that come really close and are satisfying. I also want to try the Beyond Meat Burger and Sausage to see how those compare.
A: Myself with food and my wife Cyndie for the workouts.
A: I’m now committed for another 6 months on this. I’ve had a couple of episodes at restaurants that weren’t on the Engine 2 Diet, but I’ve been able to get back on track immediately thereafter.
A: I still think there are dozens of resources available to motivate people to change their habits. There’s simply not one single way to go about it, so you have to let people find what works best for them and what motivates them. If it’s the infomercial guy, or a doctor letting you know it’s time for a drastic change, or even your friends at work committing to a Whole 30 program together – just find what works for you! There are many habit-changing triggers out there. Be open to the message. There is, however, no miracle pill to fix your health overnight. A moderation of calories (healthy calories) combined with a consistent moderation of exercise activity (in that order) has the greatest effect on most people’s health.
See you in a few months!
Have you ever had just a truly mind-blowing snack? Like, it was so good and tasty, and filling, and energizing, that you just thought… “Man, that was one crazy good snack!” No? Just me? (I do have a tendency to go a bit over the top with food… check out my Instagram feed for more details on that…)
Well, maybe you’d change your mind, if you knew what exactly a snack was supposed to do for you. Have you ever thought about that? Why do we eat snacks? Is it because we’re hungry? Need fuel? Are about to workout? Are bored? Really, why do we eat them? Whether it’s mid-morning, late afternoon, or bedtime… everyone enjoys a good snack. ESPECIALLY if it’s tasty and gets the job done.
But what exactly do I mean by “gets the job done”? There are many reasons we eat snacks (many I listed above), but the primary reason is we need something to get us from one meal to the next without us starving and feeling tired.
So, basically snacks keep us full (or at least keep our stomachs from growling) and energized. But how do they do that?
To really understand that, we need to do a brief review of our MACRO nutrients: carbs, protein, and fat.
These three things are the only things that provide calories to our bodies. (The exception to that is alcohol, which also provides calories, but isn’t considered a nutrient.) They each serve different functions in our bodies and are absorbed at different speeds. Carbohydrates are processed the quickest. This means they leave our stomachs and get absorbed in our intestines faster than protein and fat do.
Carbohydrates give us quick energy.
Protein and fat take a little longer to digest, with fat taking the longest. Protein and fat, help keep us energized over longer periods of time. This is why an apple by itself (mainly carbs) only keeps you full for an hour, but an apple with peanut butter (protein and fat) keeps you full for 2-3 hours.
So, whenever I’m working with clients, I always give them my “perfect snack” formula…
Carbs + protein/fat = sustained energy and fullness.
There are so many great carb and protein/fat combos to pick from:
So, next time you’re wanting something to munch on between meals, make sure you’re giving yourself everything you need to keep you both energized AND satisfied!
As our awesome team of marketing and sales leaders get ready to hit the Natural Products Expo West show, all we can think about are carrots, carrots, carrots. We launch our NEW delicious, crunchy Carrot Sticks to the retail world this week at Expo West, so we’re all real pumped to show them off.
Get ready, world. You’re about to fall in love with a new plant-based superfood snack. Our Naked Carrot Sticks have 0 g of fat, 11 g of dietary fiber, 3 g of protein, 20% of your daily value of potassium, 15% of your DV of vitamin A…and they’re delicious!
My excitement for the new Carrot Sticks had another effect on me several weeks ago. They’re really good, and I was munching on a bag of our first production batch when it dawned on me that I wasn’t eating enough fruits and veggies. When we first started Rhythm, I had just gone through a product development exercise with Rip Esselstyn from the Engine 2 Diet, one of the foremost leaders in the plant-based diet movement. I had committed to a strict low-fat vegan diet for 60 days and had a full-blown blood analysis done the day before starting, and again at 30-days and 60-days after to see what effect this change in diet would have on my health. My eating habits prior to this leaned much further in the BBQ direction.
At the 60-day mark, my weight was down just over 10 lbs. and my cholesterol markers came down significantly. Before I started the diet, my cholesterol (LDL and Triglycerides) levels were in the range of having my doctor look at me and say that she would normally have that talk at this point about Statin drugs from here on out. I really didn’t want to take a pill every day, so I told her what I was doing with the Engine 2 Diet, and she agreed to wait and see how I did. With so many things that are unhealthy for us, the biggest hurdle we humans face is the ability to change our habits…especially eating habits. Our unhealthy habits are the source of much of what we have going wrong with our health: smoking, drinking, poor nutrition decisions; all difficult things to change if they’ve become a habit. Habits are habitual, of course. With this hard fact facing all doctors, it seems most have determined that the pharmacological solution (prescribing a pill or patch) is the most effective way to deliver a physiological change to someone rather than relying on personal effort to break these bad habits.
I chose to break the habit and was successful with the strict vegan diet for the full 60 days. After that, I didn’t revert back to my previous ways, but I did start to eat meat, eggs, cheese and other non-vegan foods in more moderation than I did previously. Thinking I had been successful and congratulating myself for it, I went on with my life. Fast forward 8 years later into 2018 and I became much more aware that I had gained back the weight I had lost and had to confront the fact that I was not eating as healthy as I had committed to years ago. The old habits came back, and now I had to own it.
So, in February I went in for a physical, which I hadn’t done in a few years. I told my doctor how I was feeling and had the full-blown blood work done again as part of the physical. Two weeks later I returned to review the lab results. I was back up to high levels with the LDL and Triglyceride numbers and added an elevated glucose level to the mix. I knew this would be the result of me slipping into those bad habits and it was.
I don’t ever want to take a daily regimen of pills. I’ve re-committed to healthier choices in diet and exercise, and I’m going to break the bad habits and do my best to stay on the “healthier-choice train.” I like to go all in when I start. It’s the way I get myself committed. So as of March 1st, I’m back on Rip’s Engine 2 Diet. So far so good!
With my travel bags filled with healthy snacking alternatives from Rhythm and other great companies, I’m ready for one of the biggest food shows we do every year: Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA. It starts today and we’re debuting our awesome Carrot Sticks! If you see me out and about, don’t let me slip, show me some encouragement, and I’ll report back with my results in May after I do the 60-day blood work and weight check.
My commitment is as follows:
If you are in the food business, come by our booth at Expo West (#5424, Hall E) to try our new Carrot Sticks and feel free to share your own health journey with me. I get encouraged by talking openly about this with people. If you aren’t in the food business, stay tuned for me to report back on my journey with honesty.
Eat More Plants!