Jon Cadoux stumbled into organics. He'd started home brewing with a couple friends, and it didn't take long to realize that hops and barley grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers tasted better. The business he founded—Peak Organic Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine—is all about enjoying great beer after " peak" adventures in the outdoors or quality time spent with friends and family. He believes knowing that tasty beer is also good for the planet makes it that much more enjoyable.
Building relationships with small farmers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the business for Cadoux. " We hear from a lot of farmers who say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to farm the way I believe in, for making it possible to do this without dousing my entire family in chemicals.' Being a part of that has been a real pleasure."
But, of course, the biggest pleasure is putting out a pale ale, nut-brown ale, amber ale and maple-oat ale he loves.
What are the biggest challenges facing the naturals industry? I think it's just understanding the real value of the industry. We get pigeonholed a little bit on the whole environmental-social component, which is a very important part, but the most important reason consumers should buy natural and organic products is for a great, fresh wonderful taste. The fact that there is an environmental and social benefit is just sort of icing on the cake.
What would you like to see change in the naturals industry in the next five years? The thing that's so interesting in our little world: We sell not only to natural food and grocery stores but to restaurants. There's an incredible farm-to-table movement happening right now in restaurants. I'd like to see us communicate to consumers that this is a wonderful, gourmet, delicious purchase.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? Brewing the beer, no doubt. At the end of the day, it's all about the beer for me.
What was your inspiration when getting started? We started as home brewers 11 years ago. We were having fun but didn't necessarily want to make a business out of it. Two years into it, I just realized a lot of these organic items taste so much better. As a foodie, I started to gravitate toward organic. Once I reached out to a couple farmers growing organic barley and hops, the stuff they sent was just spectacular. Here we are brewing this beer everyone's telling us is as good, or better, than anything out there—and it's organic. We were just dumb enough to give it a shot.
What are you most proud of? The beer, and the fact that we've always stayed true to the recipes and farmers we started out with. We've never released something we weren't absolutely in love with.
What are you afraid of? Complacency.
If you had one piece of advice for natural products retailers, what would it be? Do yourself a favor, only stock items that are a glowing example of what organic and natural products should be—phenomenal in taste and quality—because you're doing the whole industry a service when you do.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 8/p. 19