SPOTLIGHT ON EDISON GRAINERY!
By Leanne Haight, Azure Standard Communications
Edison Grainery is the culmination of decades of experience and a search for a better and healthier life. Little did Jeffrey and Amy Barnes know thirty years ago that their experiences would manifest in their very own company, dedicated to organic integrity and cultivating relationships. But it did.
Jeffrey started out with ConAgra, working as the VP of specialty grains. Winter life in Nebraska, however, was cold! In one such January, Amy and her daughter, Lyndsy, took a trip out to San Francisco for a food show and there was SUN, and there were tulips blooming. They realized that they wanted to make a move to a place better-suited for their health. So, in the late 80’s, Jeffrey was able to take his experience with the specialty grains and translate it into a new endeavor in California. It focused on developing and selling flours and oats that were "identity preserved" which helped fuel the artisan bread movement of the time. Through that, he continued forging relationships with farmers and growers, working with them to grow products in better and more sustainable ways.
Everything was going well until 2009, when Amy became very sick- diagnosed with several different cancers, as well as Celiac disease. For the next two years, Jeffrey became her primary caregiver, and that is when they began their next big step towards better health and life. Prior to her illness, Amy admits that she was pretty much the one who did all the shopping. When the tides turned, and Jeffrey took over the role, he began to notice something very important. In trying to care for his wife and feed her and the family the best food possible, he couldn’t help but see the incredible price increases for healthful foods - anything that had a "special" label like gluten free, organic, green, etc.
From his decades of work in the industry, he knew how much the raw ingredients cost, and he could see that the end products were being marked up sometimes 200%, maybe more. He got to the point where he could not stand it anymore- that the people who were truly trying to take care of their health and the planet had to pay such extraordinary prices, out of reach for many Americans. That was the dawn of Edison Grainery.
In 2011, they started out very small – renting a 9x11 foot space in a public warehouse. With Jeffrey’s longstanding and trusted relationships with growers, and Amy’s talent for design, they began creating a company. At the very core of Edison Grainery is commitment to integrity- that is number one. Amy spends countless hours researching and vetting "certificates of analysis" – the documents that certify a product’s origin, manner and process by which it was grown, whether it is organic or gluten free, etc. She says it is not as easy as you might think – especially when dealing with countries where standards are not necessarily established, or there are other underlying factors. In actuality, Amy thought the business would be a "two day a week kind of thing"… It is far beyond that now.
By the late summer of 2012, Edison Grainery was bursting at the seams in their tiny space, and they were able to relocate into a 24,000 square foot warehouse facility in Oakland- giving them room to move and grow! Lyndsy works the business with her parents, and they hired a few more people to help out in the warehouse. In addition to integrity, getting the orders "right" is also paramount, as is providing organic foods at affordable prices – that’s what spurred them down the Edison path in the first place!
In the spring of 2013, the Barnes went to the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, and met up Anita Pearl, Azure Standard Buyer, and David Stelzer, CEO. The match was made. While everyone else was in eating dinner, they sat outside of the dining area and talked for a couple hours. Anita was so impressed by their passion, commitment to quality, AND the fact that the Barnes were bringing such products to market at prices people could afford. The relationship was further cemented. Azure had started carrying Edison Grainery quinoa pastas the previous year, but with the Anaheim meeting, plans began forming for buying more and more of what Edison could supply- from botanicals to grains to superfoods. Why? Because of the trust. Edison Grainery adheres to the same standard as Azure, and as Anita put it recently, "We are looking to the goals & visions of our vendors—looking for those that match Azure’s— because we want to build partnerships not simply buy products."
The future of Edison Grainery is bright indeed. Amy and Lyndsy are now developing Edison Packing- a division that will offer private label options for other companies. They continue with their intention to being as green as possible- often paying 10 times or more for packaging just to ensure they are using and supplying healthiest option for people and the planet. Amy points out that the plastic packaging that is customarily used on even organic products off-gases very toxic pollutants. That is not good enough for Edison Grainery, so they ensure that even the packaging meets Edison’s standard of quality.
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Prices are tax excluded