One Degree Organics sets standard for product transparency, connecting consumers to farmers

By Arianne Pfoutz
Published: October 30, 2015
Issue:

They’ve created a “new kind of local,” wrote New Hope Natural Media after awarding its 2012 NEXTY First Prize to One Degree Organic Foods. At the time, the novice company didn’t have a single client or distribution line—they simply brought to Expo West a line of organic sprouted breads and flours. But they had conceived a winning idea and developed a glitzy software tool that has since propelled meteoric growth for this Abbotsford, British Columbia enterprise.

“We’re at the intersection of food and technology—offering a farmer’s market in a loaf of bread,” said co-founder Danny Houghton, mastermind behind the consumer-empowering software. Co-founder Stan Smith, an experienced baker and owner of Silver Hills Bakery (sister company of One Degree Organics), had the vision—to create a food brand where every single ingredient is 100% traceable, providing full transparency to the consumer.

Scan QR code to learn about farmers producing cereal

Today, the company sells 30 to 40 varieties of cereals, breads, flours and seeds—all of them organic and non-GMO. It’s a family affair, including Stan’s wife Kathy, his daughters Sondra and Alonna, and Danny (married to Sondra). Over 40 farmers, all certified organic and sustainable growers, supply the raw ingredients without using animal-based fertilizers (veganic). At One Degree’s production plant, organic ingredients are sprouted and crafted into delicious products like Ancient Whole Wheat Bread, Sprouted Red Fife Raisin Bran, and Organic Sprouted Spelt Kernels.

“We’re the primary driver of veganic in North America,” Danny said. “It’s a step beyond organic, ensuring that no antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or heavy metals from animal inputs enter the supply chain.”

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How does this vital information—the Who? Where? and How? behind each ingredient—reach the curious consumer? The QR code on each product is only a click away—just scan it with your smartphone to get the full story of every ingredient in the product when food shopping. Or use the alphanumeric code when you’re enjoying a waffle made from One Degree flour—to access the information online and watch an engaging video about the family farm that grew your breakfast. From Vaags Family Farm in Manitoba (sunflower oil) to Big Tree Farms in Bali (coconut palm sugar) to Alma Mia in Argentina (brown rice)—becoming familiar with the people and land behind your food makes it taste even better.

“About 20% of our traffic comes from mobile devices, so it seems consumers are using the QR scanning to learn more,” Danny said.

Is it risky exposing supply sources with this information? “The sword cuts both ways,” Danny added. “The videos go along with forming long-term partnerships—we want our suppliers to know we’ll be with them through thick and thin times. But no company that we know of offers this degree of transparency for every item.” The plus side is the trust the customer gains, along with the contribution to global health they make with more informed choices.

Non-GMO Project verified

One Degree relies on extremely careful planning to provide its high quality, traceable products. “We have to search through our documented farmer list, see if they grow enough quantity, and determine if they can supply it to meet our deadline,” said Danny. “So far it’s been successful, even with our rapid growth.”

Each One Degree product has been verified by the Non-GMO Project. “Many people don’t realize that organic means non-GMO,” said Danny. “We wanted to assure our customers our products don’t contain GMOs by joining the Project and using its seal.”

The driving force behind One Degree’s mission lies in that valuable one degree: the intimate connection between the consumer and the source of the food they choose to eat.

“We gather the cleanest food possible, and use processes such as germination and sprouting modeled by Mother Nature, to create a transparent, wholesome food people can eat with peace of mind,” said Danny.

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, 2015