When I received a package from the folks at Earnest Eats, I was mostly ambivalent. I'd read a bit about the company on their website, and they seemed philosophically aligned with Simple, Good, and Tasty, but much of our work is about getting people in the kitchen rather than feeding them on the go. If you're taking a car trip, for example, we're much more likely to write about how to make your own granola than what to buy when you stop at McDonald's.
But even idealist foodies must face reality, and our reality -- even in our own homes -- is that life is busy, and cooking must sometimes take a back seat to grabbing a snack on the road. Whether it's eating breakfast on the way to work, finding a quick dinner on the way to football practice, or collapsing on the couch after a long day, packaged foods are occasionally part of our lives. And when they are, we want good ones.
And if we're going to admit and accept that we do, occasionally, eat packaged (and non-local, non-organic) foods -- in front of the TV, on the go, in the car -- then we need to root for the companies that do them right. This is where Earnest Eats comes in. And so, I dug into my box of plastic-wrapped snacks with the same kind of practical optimism I normally reserve for spring break with the kids, romantic comedies, and new Elvis Costello albums.
What did I find? Tasty, dense snacks that filled me up on my way to work and kept me going until lunch. My favorite bars were the ones that mixed fruit and nuts in yummy, chewy ways. Best of these was Cran Lemon Zest, although I'm a sucker for anything with dried cranberries in it. The bars were sweet, for sure, but tasted somehow healthy too -- maybe it's the whole oats, almond butter, and brown rice syrup. According to their website, Earnest Eats is:
... inspired by the flavorful simplicity of whole grains, hearty nuts and seeds, and the natural sweetness of fruit—they are the real stars here and we let them shine in everything we do. Our snacks are minimally processed, free of preservatives and artificial ingredients, made in small batches and baked in real baking trays! We use only premium, all-natural, whole food ingredients to give you an anytime snack you can feel good about.
While I liked the Earnest Eats bars, my whole family loved the granola planks. Big, crunchy, sweet, and fruity, we ate these sticky, nutty, chewy clusters quickly. Blueberry Vanilla Crackle was my favorite, but they were all good. We'll be heading back to our local coop for more.
One of the things I like best about Earnest Eats is the straightforward way they tell their story. For example, although their products make no claims about being organic, the first question on their FAQ page is "how organic are you?" It's a fair question, given the company's focus on "whole food." Here's the answer:
Right now both of our products are about 40% organic. We totally believe in organic and source organic ingredients whenever possible. However, we also want you to be able to enjoy our products and at the present time it would be prohibitively expensive to buy some of our super-premium ingredients organic. Organic almond butter, for example, costs about $18 for a 16oz. jar—as compared to $9 a jar for conventional almond butter. Maple syrup is another ingredient that costs about three times more when you buy organic. The costs of these and other organic ingredients are dropping daily as the demand for organic increases—as soon as prices become more competitive we will make the switch. Almond butter is one of the main ingredients in our bars, so once we can source organic our bars will be 70% organic.
Is this true? Would using organic ingredients make the price of these bars and planks too high? I appreciate them addressing the issue head on, either way.
So what's the verdict? I like Earnest Eats -- especially the granola planks. Will they replace my morning eggs? Not likely. But they are a good option for myself and my family on those days when we need a snack on the go, a quick boost of energy, or breakfast in the car.
You can find Earnest Eats at area coops, or online here.