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From Seed to SunButter

Monday, October 24, 2016
filed under: Utilization/Trade

       When Keeley McGuire’s daughter was diagnosed with food allergies, the family’s life changed.
       “She was about nine months old,” McGuire recalls. “She was two when she started school full-time.  She had some
SunButter Bloggers
Cindy Gordon and Keeley McGuire
occupational therapy, speech therapy and sensory therapy. She also had severe food allergies. She was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. That meant I was packing her lunches.”
       McGuire’s sister watched what she was doing, how she was getting creative with lunches, and advocating for her daughter. She encouraged her to blog about her journey. It started as a creative outlet, but quickly grew to something much bigger.
       “I was that mom on the Internet looking for information; and at that time (almost 10 years ago) there wasn’t a lot of information,” says McGuire. “I started blogging and sharing our lunch box ideas and the fun things I was doing to encourage her to eat different foods, despite her food allergies. I quickly had other parents find my blog, and they fell in love because it was something they could relate to. Maybe they had a child whose friend was allergic to nuts, or their kids had allergies. They were looking for resources.”
       The blog—keeleymcguire.com—has grown from a few friends and family to thousands of readers.
       “Everybody knows somebody with a food allergy these days, whether it’s in your direct family, or a cousin, friend or a neighbor.  It affects everyone in some way,” McGuire observes.
       McGuire’s daughter, now 11 years old, is still allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. She was given just a 20% chance of outgrowing the allergies by the age of five. McGuire says that in a way, being diagnosed at such a young age was a blessing.
       “It would be more difficult to make the transition later in life. She is so used to it now. She knows what’s safe for her to eat, how to read labels, how to tell her friends she can’t eat something. And she knows the brands she can have,” McGuire says.
       One of those safe brands is SunButter®, a brand that has been a staple in McGuire’s pantry for years. SunButter sunflower butter is free from the top eight food allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, fish, dairy, eggs, and—as of January 2016—SunButter is soy free as well. SunButter is also naturally gluten free, vegan and kosher. McGuire says those are all great reasons to love SunButter; the great taste is a bonus.
       “I first bought SunButter for myself, not for my daughter! She was still pretty young, and I didn’t want her to confuse peanut butter and SunButter, because they are so similar,” McGuire explains. “But I bought it at first because I missed my peanut butter and honey sandwiches! So it started as me eating it and loving it; but as soon as I let her try SunButter, she fell in love with it as well. It quickly became a nutritional alternative for her.
       “SunButter and honey is still our ‘go-to.’ We also use SunButter in cookies, dips and even our own SunButter cups,” says McGuire. “You can use SunButter in any way you use peanut butter. It’s a straight-up substitution.”
       The blogging world is a small one, and after a short time McGuire met Cindy Gordon, who blogs at vegetarianmamma.com. The two had an instant connection: both have children with food allergies, and both blog to help other parents. Gordon has been blogging since 2009.
       “It started out as a vegetarian blog. People asked us what we ate and how we ate,” explains Gordon. “That was before kids. When the kids came along, we were thrown into the world of food allergies, and the blog evolved into that. We have all our recipes there: gluten free, nut free, allergy friendly. The idea is to form a community that can share easily to make recipes for busy families and products that will make their lives easier.”
       One of those products is SunButter.
       “SunButter fits into that very well,” Gordon continues. “When our youngest son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies at 18 months old, it was one of the first foods we found that was safe. It was a bonus that it was also something the whole family could enjoy.”
       “Keeley and Cindy have been loyal SunButter users for years, and they’ve been blogging about SunButter for a long time,” explains SunButter Marketing Director Juli Tubby. “We have been working hard to promote our farm-to-table message this year, and giving these two a tour of the whole process seemed like a natural fit.”
       In just two days, Gordon and McGuire were able to see the entire farm-to-table process of SunButter. They caught up with farmers harvesting near Jamestown, N.D., something these women had never seen before. They got to ride along in the combine, ask questions and capture the entire experience in videos and photos to share with their followers.
       “We were able to show them the entire process—from the field, to the receiving station, to the processing plant in Fargo, and to the SunButter side of the plant there. They got to see the seeds roasted, made into SunButter, and put into jars. They really saw it all,” says Tubby.
       “The tour was a great way for me to connect personally with the product,” says Gordon. “Knowing the people behind the product, seeing their dedication, hearing their stories and witnessing all the safety procedures in place is pretty amazing.  It really puts it into perspective for me. I can convey the story to my readers, and they can make a connection as well.”
       “To see all the controls that go into the product, the quality assurance, and knowing that it is so controlled and kept safe. It’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re putting this product out there and saying all these things.’ It’s truly a belief of the company; so from a parent perspective obviously you want that from a brand and you want that assurance that they’re in it to keep your kid safe,” says McGuire. “I feel even better about SunButter now than before the tour.”
       “We really want to stress to consumers with food allergies who have a lot of concerns about food safety from the field to the table to demonstrate the process,” Tubby says. “With SunButter, we handle everything from the field to the final product, the jar, which is pretty unique.  We have complete control of the product.
       “I think as people are learning more about their food, they want to know more about where it comes from. SunButter is sold nationwide, but so many people don’t see what’s involved from the farm to the table. We need to do more to educate people about how our product is made. This is the first step in spreading the word about our great product.”
         To read more about the bloggers’ tour, and for some great SunButter recipes, visit their blogs:  keeleymcguire.com and vegetarianmamma.com. To learn more about SunButter, visit sunbutter.com.
Jody Kerzman  
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