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I recently had the opportunity to interview Pure Bar Founder, Veronica Bosgraaf. Pure Bar started in 2004 when her 6-year-old daughter decided to become a vegetarian after a visit to the zoo. As a busy mom, Veronica quickly learned that options were limited when it came to healthy, packaged snack foods–let alone those that were vegetarian, organic and raw. Thus, Pure was born as Veronica’s attempt to fill this void.
From the beginning, Pure has been dedicated to real ingredients, organic fruits and healthy nuts; no refined sugars, chemicals or GMOs; ingredients rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3s; and last but certainly not least, a product that would pass the 6-year-old taste test.
What most inspired me about Veronica was not her entrepreneurship and success–though both are truly impressive–but the underlying values that guide every decision she: organic ingredients, environmental sustainability and, most importantly, making healthy, whole foods a top priority for her and her family. Read on for what she had to say about her value-based company, conscious consumerism, and the importance of real food.
1. Veronica, please tell us more about how Pure Bar got started.
When I created the first Pure Bar it wasn’t to sell it. I didn’t even have that in mind at the beginning. Since I was making it for my family, I wanted to use the best ingredients possible. I went with organic ingredients that were as unprocessed as possible. My goal was to deliver nutrients that my daughter needed as a growing child and a vegetarian. I crafted it to give her the protein, fiber, carbs and healthy fats she needed. And of course it had to taste good so she would eat it!
2. What sets Pure apart as a company? And what is your perspective on the organic marketplace?
Our company is very unique because it started from an authentic need and wasn’t built for marketing purposes or profit. It was started to fulfill the nutritional and dietary needs of not just children but anybody. That’s the philosophy we have taken moving forward. Every time we think about creating a new product or where we are going as a company, I bring it right back to my own kitchen and my own family. I think about my needs as a busy mom and what I would and wouldn’t feed my kids.
A lot of big food companies are a bit lazy when it comes to formulating products. They use the easiest to source and least expensive ingredients to make a product they think will sell. Our motto is completely different. We start with the nutritional needs of the family and craft from there.
3. What does Pure do every day to help the planet? What do you hope to do down the line?
We try to operate with the smallest footprint we can afford. Probably the easiest way is with choosing our packaging materials. Additionally, the more organic companies there are the more consumers become aware and ask for organic products. For me it’s a huge priority to spread awareness of how important organic production is because it has such a positive impact on the planet and the people that work in the industry.
One of the biggest blessings about growing is being able to give back and see where you can be more responsible or share your success. We have donated to the Lunchbox Fund for the last couple of years, a charity that provides healthy lunches to children in South Africa. We’re now partnering with Fresh Moves, which is a mobile produce bus that goes into the inner cities of Chicago and provides fresh produce to residents that live in food deserts. That initiative is another way to educate people on the importance of whole, unprocessed food.
4. What are your personal ethos around food?
For me, the most important thing is to eat real foods. It’s also important to get people back in the kitchen. I really feel like we’re losing the art of cooking. We’re so dependent on restaurants and frozen food that our generation and the generation behind us is losing the knowledge of how easy it can be to whip up a healthy meal. I’d love to get people making simple, real meals more often. You’ll be healthier and save money. You’ll also be teaching your children a really important skill and it’s better for the planet!
5. As a female-owned business, what has been your greatest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me from the beginning was having confidence in myself. And the biggest mistakes I’ve made have been with not listening to what my gut was telling me. I had no business experience, so I just figured I didn’t know anything. But when you’re passionate about something and living it every day, you know more than you think you know! I really encourage women to be confident in their goals, realize how much they bring to the table and not fall victim to their own insecurities.
6. What do you want people to say 20 years from now when they look back on Pure’s growth?
I want Pure to always stand for the name–a company that creates and sells honestly and truly real food. It’s hard as a mom to sit there and read all the labels, wondering who you can and can’t trust in the grocery store. I want to be the brand where people just know that when they grab something made by Pure it’s going to be an authentically great product that is going to nourish them and their family.
7. Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Just because of who I am–a busy mother with teenagers and a 10-year-old and I’m still the one who does most of the cooking–I feel like I live in the same space as a lot of other people. I can really relate to what people are going through because of the busyness of my life, the age of my children and because I live in the Midwest where it’s sometimes really hard to find good food. One of the things I love to do is think about the problems I face every day, research solutions and write about that in my newsletter and blog. That’s another really important aspect of the company for me–connecting with people. I think it’s that feeling of we’re all in this journey together and to me that’s a huge part of my company and what we do: finding better ways to achieve our nutrition goals.