How and why did we start Freekeh?
When we began our company, Nature’s Organic Grist, in January 2010 we were asked to import a couple of containers from Australia of Non-Organic Freekeh to be introduced into a bulk bin program for grocery. We were able to market the first container successfully, however the second container was not able to be sold into the bulk aisle. We learned at that time that people didn’t know what the product was, how to cook with it, what it tastes like, where it came from, or really what to make of it.
Realizing we had a second container to market, and having the understandings we did of what the product was and its back story, we decided to tell the Freekeh story and develop a retail package to help people understand its value. So, we set off to bring Freekeh to the US market. Jumping in to the retail market, without any previous experience in retail, has taught us a great many lessons. The first lesson we learned is how much we love to see people smile after they’ve tasted Freekeh.
Fortunately, the grocery market was receptive to Freekeh and with a great deal of hard work we began distributing to many chains nationwide. Nature’s Organic Grist is an Organic Ingredient company and focuses on supporting Organic Farmers and the Organic Industry. In 2012, Nature’s Organic Grist spun Freekeh off to its sister company Freekeh Foods. In 2012 we decided to work towards the development of an Organic Freekeh program in the United States, and to transition our product from a Non-Organic retail product to an Organic retail product.
My personal background for nearing 30 years began working in grain elevators throughout Minnesota to grain merchandising in Arizona of non-organic durum to pasta manufacturers. In 1997, with my wife Lisa and our two small children at the time, we decided to make the jump into the Organic Foods Industry. We’ve had many wonderful experiences with Organic Farmers and buyers along the way, and have been fortunate to make many contacts throughout the industry. So, when we decided to transition our product from Non-Organic to Organic in 2012, we were fortunate to have built a strong foundation of solid relationships we had built the previous years.
Freekeh is a pioneering brand that has pushed us to learn more about the many different facets of the organic food industry. It has allowed us to give back to our community and to share with the world a wonderful food that has been enjoyed for thousands of years by many people. The opportunity we have with Freekeh enables us to push the boundaries of what food can be for us all. With our partners at Davis Drier and Elevator, we are able to manufacture and clean the product in a 100% solar powered facility to the highest standard. Freekeh has enabled us also to promote ideals of ownership; we are family, employee, farmer, and processor owned. We believe that ownership provides us with a greater commitment and devotion to our goals.
Freekeh tastes great and is useful in countless ways. That said, the benefits to farmers are many. We use durum to produce Freekeh, and as durum is grown in arid conditions throughout the world, Freekeh can be considered a drought tolerant crop that delivers a highly nutritious food to people. Considered a farmer’s food in common growing areas in the Middle East, our goal is to share the product worldwide. We believe it is good for the Earth and good for our bellies.