1971: While other kids were packing Twinkies and Wonder Bread in their lunch boxes, my mom sent me with homemade bread and cookies. As a teen I hated being different, but my mom didn’t care. She went out of her way to make sure our foods weren’t loaded with chemicals. Twice a year, we’d drive 150 miles - from Cleveland to southern Ohio –a place we called Amish Country. At that time, the Amish had the only natural food in the state. Maybe even in the country. They supplied us with bulk food and we drove away with tins of dried goods and a cooler of meat.
1986: When I moved to San Francisco, I took on my mom’s passion for wholesome, non-chemical foods. There I discovered Rainbow Cooperative. Back then, the store was a tiny, crammed space – always crowded and full of exciting conversations about sustainable agriculture and natural foods. Organic food and product companies started to take root in the region and other health food stores opened across the city and the nation.
1996: Eventually, I moved north to Sonoma County where I live today and started Baraka - a small business dedicated to making high quality, natural sinus remedies including neti pots, salt rinses and sinus oils. I’ve literally spent thousands of hours talking to buyers in natural product stores all around the country. In 2007, I had an opportunity to grow quite large, but that’s not who I am. I love small business and knew a leap like that would mean more bureaucracy and less time to do what I love.
2016: In the last 20 years I’ve seen natural product companies grow large and be bought out by large conglomerates, who not only change the ingredients but continue to market the products as if the owners were still involved. I’ve created this podcast because there is not enough transparency. People need to know who’s really supplying these stores, and whose interests are driving the decisions about which products make it onto the shelves.
My passion for the truth is propelling me to do this. At one point, the natural product movement was valued-based not profit driven. I want to see the pendulum swing back towards the value side of the equation.