White Leaf Provisions was founded by husband and wife, Meghan and Keith Rowe, who both spent time living and working all over the world -- Meghan as a professional travel photographer and Keith as an executive chef.
The two met in the US where they had their first son. When transitioning their young son to solid foods, both Meghan and Keith were struck by the lack of products which touted biodynamic or regenerative agriculture claims, something they could easily find walking down the aisles of a European supermarket. The concept and practice of biodynamic farming (a form of regenerative agriculture) is more prevalent in Europe where the farming practices date back nearly 100 years with the founding of Demeter International, a biodynamic certifying association founded in 1928.
"I didn’t see anything in the baby food aisle that had that level of transparency that I could see in products in Europe. [There was] a lot of organic, a lot of GMO free, but I didn’t see any products that were really focused on the farming and the farming practices and the effects this farming is having on the planet and the farms," Keith Rowe told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We’re feeding our kids these fantastic products, but the majority of farming behind the product is actually destroying the planet that they’re going to inherit."
Because of this, all of White Leaf Provisions products are 100% certified biodynamic.
Regenerative agriculture, the next big thing in baby food?
Regenerative agriculture takes sustainability to the next level by not only preserving the land in which food crops are grown but employing farming practices that rebuild soil quality and restore biodiversity on the farm.
Without a formal certification process for products made using regenerative agriculture -- although a couple of independent certification programs are in the works -- White Leaf Provisions adheres to the standards laid out by the international non-profit group Demeter International which certifies biodynamic products and the Rodale Institute, which launched a certification program, Regenerative Organic Certified, for manufacturers to use.
And it seems the regenerative agriculture movement is catching on in the US with major companies including General Mills, Danone, and Applegate Farms partnering with brands and making investments in the space.
Giving parents peace of mind
The company also received glyphosate residue free certification from The Detox Project late last year, which requires products to be below 0.01ppm for glyphosate residue detection.
"It’s another testament to the farming that’s behind the fruits and vegetables in our products," said Keith Rowe.
"It’s not about providing parents with too much information, it’s about giving parents more peace of mind. Parents are going to hear the word ‘glyphosate’, it’s on your 6 o’clock news now, it comes across your news feed. We want to show parents that there are brands already thinking about this and being proactive. We’ve already done the steps."
Snack/in-between meal eating occasion
As a small brand, White Leaf Provisions is not trying to be all things at once to the consumer and is instead focusing on the snack time occasion with veggie-forward products, said Keith Rowe.
The brand's core four products are shelf-stable blends of fruits and vegetables such as apple, sweet potato, and beet.
"I think a lot of other baby foods get very complicated and they try to turn what’s in a pouch into one solid meal that covers all the nutritional needs of a child. That’s not really our approach. We try to envision ourselves as a snack," said Keith Rowe.
This is a family food brand
While the company launched with baby food purees, its founders emphasized that its vision is to be a family brand and will continue to add to its product portfolio to reflect that image.
"We always knew that we were going to grow into different categories in the store," said Meghan Rowe.
The brand has launched apple sauce multipacks designed to be a lunchbox snack and will be coming out with packaged quick-cooking oats and muesli, which are both glyphosate-free and awaiting final certification from The Detox Project.
"That will be huge for us a small brand to be launching a product like that given how much herbicide residue there is on the oats in the marketplace right," Meghan Rowe noted.
Product availability and expansion
White Leaf Provisions first launched in 700 stores up and down California about a year and half ago where its biodynamic certification stood out to many consumers who were already familiar with the term from its prevalent use throughout California's wine industry.
The brand's products are now available on the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic regions and will be launching nationwide in Whole Foods stores next month, according to the brand.
"We have four more large retailers we’re in discussion with for rollouts in 2020. We’re also going to be focused on building out our online subscription model," added Keith Rowe.