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Wildbrine, WildCreamery Sour Cream Alternative
Not an impeccable mimic of dairy-based sour cream, but an impeccably good alternative—and apparently (judging by the judges) a tasty dip by itself—this plant-based sour cream hit on many levels of innovation, integrity and inspiration. Part of the secret might be the use of customized cultures coming out of sister company Wildbrine, providing home-grown fermentation in place of lab-generated cultures. The list of organic kitchen-familiar ingredients and lack of starches or gums probably helps, too.
Winged, Chilled Out
Winged is a high-flying of- by- and for-women company aimed at empowering women through the talisman of CBD. Women are twice as likely as men to experience anxiety, depression and insomnia, so the company launched Chilled Out. It would be a fantastic supplement without CBD—powered by a slew of ingredients to soothe a tattered psyche. Magnesium plays a central role in allowing tense muscles to relax, yet many women are deficient in this master mineral. Organic ashwagandha reduces the stress hormone cortisol. 5-HTP, as any raver can tell you, brings serotonin back up to par. GABA puts the brakes on the brain. L-theanine encourages mental relaxation without drowsiness. Passionflower, lemon balm and chaste tree berry have been used traditionally by women for anxiety and hormonal balance. What a formulation—and that’s before the CBD. Winged also works with four organizations that help lift disadvantaged women.
Bhoomi, Ginger Recovery+ Cane Water Elixir
Bhoomi (“Mother Earth” in Sanskrit) is the first certified low-glycemic cane water company in the U.S. making Ayurveda inspired super-botanical elixirs. Partnering with minority sugarcane farmers in Louisiana, Bhoomi works to address equitable economies, focus on regenerative practices and compost its sugarcane waste. Through a packaging study with the Climate Collaborative, Bhoomi identified the substantial impact of moving away from a fossil fuel-based plastic. This inspired the brand’s commitment to launch a new, recyclable, 100% sugarcane-based biopolymer bottle.
Applegate, Well Carved Organic Grass-Fed Beef Burgers
Applegate ups the blended burger ante beyond mushrooms with this blend of humanely raised meat and vegetables, legumes and grains. This better-for-you burger includes 1/3 cup of veggies. Applegate has long led the way in improving animal welfare standards and cleaning up processed meat ingredient panels. The company commissioned a third-party environmental impact analysis to compare this line to traditional beef patties. It found that the plant-blended burger creates 51% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions, uses 67% less water and generates 99% percent less water pollution from run-off.
Gaia Herbs, Hemp and Herbs Calm
Leave it to Gaia to develop a thoughtfully curated formulation that would stand on its own as a traceable, transparent, high-quality botanical blend—in this case, using holy basil, passionflower, American skullcap, milky oats and magnolia to bring about a sense of tranquility. The company then supercharges the formulation with organic hemp at 20 mg CBD per serving. As part of its mission, Gaia Herbs donates 5% of profits from its hemp product sales to programs that support and empower small U.S. family farms. Through Gaia Herbs’ industry-leading Meet Your Herbs traceability program, customers can enter the ID number located on the back of any Gaia Herbs product to learn where each ingredient came from, how the herbs were grown, harvested and extracted, and the tests the product underwent to validate its purity, integrity and potency. Gaia Herbs is also a certified B Corp—using business as a force for good.
The Jackfruit Company, Jack & Annie's Savory Breakfast Jack Sausage Patties
Overprocessing can be a challenge when trying to make plant-based alternatives for sausage. These sausage patties from Jack and Annie's utilize jackfruit as a plant-forward, minimally processed option for making savory breakfast sandwiches. Jackfruit, a whole food that satisfies like meat, is the first ingredient in these patties. A sustainable, regenerative crop, the company supports 1,000 farming families with 10-40% of their income by buying jackfruit directly from them, and community support programs provide tools and cooking vessels to the farmers.
Consider Pastures, Pasture-Raised Eggs
Consider Pastures is a new egg line of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. Consider Pastures wants the marketplace to consider the role egg farms with small flocks and multilivestock farms can play in regenerative agriculture. To do this, the brand is engaging in three partnerships: American Farmland Trust through a 5-year, $250,000 commitment; Understanding Ag to improve techniques and soil testing methods to measure impact; and The Savory Institute’s Land to Market program to pioneer an egg-laying standard. The eggs are also Certified Humane, pasture raised and B Corp certified in addition to all the regenerative benefits.
Pastificio Boulder, Organic Heritage Grains Casarecce Craft Pasta
Pastificio Boulder is at the forefront of the grain revival—a surge of farmers, educators, millers, manufacturers and let’s not forget the consumer—intent on transforming commodity grain chains into community grain networks. Pastificio does it all by sourcing organic heritage and ancient wheats and grains from biodynamically and regeneratively committed farms; milling and manufacturing grains into pasta; and educating communities near and far on the benefits of community over commodity.
Green Sprouts, Sprout Ware Sip & Straw Cup
This is a transitional sippy cup made from plant-plastic and silicone to help avoid harmful chemicals. We appreciated this product and Green Sprouts’ commitment to using safer materials and minimizing environmental impact. The Sprout Ware Sip and Straw Cup is made from innovative and nontoxic plant plastic, offering a safer alternative to petroleum plastics in children’s drinkware by utilizing a renewable resource that does not contain hormone-disrupting BPA, BPS, BPF, BFDGE, NOGE or BADGE additives.
Compostic, Cling Wrap
Compostic Cling Wrap is the first home-compostable alternative to traditional plastic wrap. The product stood out for its innovation—with every aspect of the product being considered to ensure it is truly zero-waste. Made from a compound of biopolymers designed to mimic traditional plastics in functionality, the cling wrap will break down in a composting environment in under 24 weeks (less time than an orange peel!). The cling wrap is perforated, eliminating the need for plastic or metal cutters, and the box with soy-based printing ink is both recyclable and compostable.
Soda Press Co., Organic Kombucha Concentrate
Made by a New Zealand-based company, these certified organic kombucha concentrates were more than a year in the making. The kombucha syrup is hand-crafted over the course of a month and a half, yielding a shelf-stable elixir that boasts less than 1 gram of sugar per serving and 1 billion live probiotics. The judges loved that, in addition to bringing consumers a delicious kombucha concentrate that can be used with a SodaStream or added to a fizzy water or other drink of choice, one bottle of Soda Press eliminates up to 10 single-use bottles, is 100% recyclable and gives consumers a more cost-conscious way to enjoy kombucha at home. The brand also partners with CarbonCloud, a climate tool used to show the transparency of its overall carbon footprint.
12 Tides, Organic Puffed Kelp Chips
Simple ingredients plus great flavor plus crunch made these a favorite of our judges. And they don’t just have kelp somewhere in the ingredients list, these puffed chips start with regeneratively farmed, organic kelp and follow it with just eight other recognizable ingredients. B-Corp-certified 12 Tides also donates, as a 1% for the planet member, to a nonprofit aimed at restoring California’s native kelp forests. But mostly, they’re just good chips—an innovative addition with an important ingredient.
Yolélé Foods, Fonio Pilafs
Fonio pilaf is exactly what it sounds like: a pilaf made of … fonio? Yes, fonio, a climate-friendly and climate-resilient grain from West Africa. The product tastes great (we tried the Afro-funk, flavored with pungent African locust bean, a.k.a. dawadawa, while other varieties feature other nutritious African crops, baobab and moringa). There’s much to like here, from helping West African silvo-agro-pastoral farmers find a market for this organic, irrigation-free crop, to the tasty gluten-free, cooks-in-five-minutes serving on the plate. When we look at the three I’s of the NEXTYs, Yolélé lands squarely in the all-of-the-above fourth I: Impact.
Lia Diagnostics, The Lia Pregnancy Test
The Lia Pregnancy Test is taking a category that has seen roughly zero innovation for decades and is turning it on its head. This product is the first and currently only FDA-approved flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test on the market. Lia’s innovation will help cut down on the 2 million pounds of plastic waste per year in the U.S. alone that results from conventional pregnancy test use. Plus, it boasts a 99% accuracy rate.
Enviromedica, Terraflora Deep Immune
Broad spectrum support for the microbiome is what's needed. Research supports the importance of maintaining the gut microbiome and that doing so is complex. Inspired by the science, Terraflora Deep Immune reflects this complexity. With a specific focus on the interplay between the gut microbiome and immune system function, Enviromedica has created an innovative product formulated with LC-Plasma, a unique paraprobiotic shown to activate the body’s pDCs, known as the "commander-in-chief" of the immune system. Designed to mimic the gut biodiversity reflected in ancestral diets and incorporating soil-based microorganisms, this multi-pronged approach honors the integrity of the interconnectedness of the ecosystems of this earth and the ecosystems of the human body. To your inner health!
Rishi Tea, Sparkling Botanicals
Sparkling beverages can be a challenge for product developers looking for a flavor that can dance across the tongue and hint at sweetness without overwhelming the palate. Rishi has managed to hit that right balance with intriguing flavors like dandelion ginger and turmeric saffron. In a crowded sparkling water market that has us questioning if we’ve hit “peak fizz,” Rishi stands out as a drink that hits all the notes just right, including the company’s long-established commitments to responsible sourcing, production and employment practices.
Moonshot Snacks, Climate Friendly Crackers
Moonshot is bold about its dedication to fighting climate change by calling its line of crackers climate-friendly. This young brand is BIPOC female-founded and is a steward for sourcing nourishing food for the environment and humans alike. Currently, USDA Organic certified and sourcing from farms using regenerative agriculture to sequester carbon, reducing carbon where possible and offsetting the rest, this brand is on a path to become carbon neutral while tracking its progress. Founder Julia Collins also brings a climate justice lens to the space and raises awareness that BIPOC communities bear the brunt of environmental and climate change impacts.
Global Village Foods, African-inspired Frozen Meals
Damaris and Mel Hall began serving up the rich flavors of Damaris’ native Kenya in farmers markets, food festivals and a restaurant in Vermont. As parents to a child with severe food allergies, they later created this brand of allergy friendly, frozen, African-inspired dishes to provide other families with healthy and flavorful meal options such as this flavorful Ethiopian Vegan Lentil Combo—one of five dishes in a line that also includes Swahili Inspired Curry Chicken, Moroccan Inspired Lemon Chicken and Olives, Chickpea Vegetable Tajine and African No-Nut Vegan Stew.
Kos, Organic Plant Protein Blueberry Muffin Powder
Protein powders, once relegated to the weight room, have become ubiquitous across channels and demographics, but for consumers who are looking for something beyond the protein grams count, there is always something new. Kos brings in blue spirulina, adaptogens and immunity ingredients like elderberry to produce what the brand describes as an “all-in-one” protein shake. Of course, “organic” is also something that stands out on that now-ubiquitous wall of protein tubs.
Wiley's Finest, CatchFree Omega Full Spectrum Omega-3 Liquid
Wiley’s is famous for catching its fish in Alaska and processing in Ohio. But in diversifying its set, it launched this inspired omega-3 for vegans. It does it using a combination of ingredients. The most notable is ahiflower—better than flax and with no fishy burps. It provides 160 mg alpha-linolenic acid, 60 mg stearidonic acid and 10 mg gamma-linolenic acid. An algal oil provides 500 mg DHA. A solid 1,000 IU vitamin D comes from lichen. Wiley’s packaging is always 100% recyclable materials. It is certified by NSF as vegan and non-GMO. Overall, it is a nice option for vegans looking to gain some of the omega-3s that typically come from fish sources.
Forager Project, Organic Cashewmilk Ice Cream
Forager Project’s Cashewmilk Ice Cream is a delicious plant-based and dairy-free dessert. Dairy-like in its creaminess, texture and taste yet still free of lactose, dairy, soy and gluten, the bonus is that this ice cream is also certified organic, made with cashews from ethically sourced farming collectives. None of this should come as a surprise as the company’s mission is “to make delicious, organic, plant-based foods that benefit the planet and people,” yet organic plant-based offerings in this category can still be hard to come by. With flavors including Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Mint Chip and Salted Caramel, the brand aims to serve up a clean, sustainable solution to an American classic.
Real Treat, Organic Pantry Cookies
The maker of these indulgent cookies made with high-quality ingredients doesn’t pretend to offer health benefits nor hide behind its goal: bringing organic to specialty, gourmet foods. The organic advocate put it this way: “It occurred to me that we may just be able to convince more people to choose organic if we could make organic products that were not ‘delicious for organic/natural’ but genuinely crave-worthy, delicious food. NEXTY judges say: mission accomplished.
Numi Organic Tea, Stay Healthy Teas
These new teas from Numi put wellness at the fore thanks to their potent blends of herbs, roots, spices and flowers—all carefully chosen and meticulously crafted into this line of seven health-supporting, immunity-boosting teas. Whether the goal is to relieve stress or congestion, support immunity, detox or sooth a scratchy throat, these Stay Well teas have got consumers covered by bringing together ethically sourced, certified organic, botanical ingredients including valerian, echinacea, elderberry, dandelion root, kanna leaf, burdock root and more. What’s more, all of the teas come packaged in Numi’s plant-based compostable tea wrappers and uphold this company’s commitment to sustainability, traceability and a mission to help people and planet.
Bakery on Main, Bakeshop Dark Chocolate Sea Salt
“My addiction to these little clusters is one for which I am extremely unapologetic. The snack-bite size, the pleasant dark chocolate taste, and the sea salt that tops them are all individually satisfying to me; combined they are heaven. Officially my go to snack.”