In a world of ubiquitous convenience foods, rampant obesity and type 2 diabetes, Laryn Callaway, N.D., has pioneered a path for health-conscious, on-the-go shoppers. Since she started Organic Bistro on a shoestring budget in 2003 with a six-person staff, her company's products have gained distribution in the Western U.S. and are emerging in the East Coast. A few years ago, Callaway closed her 8-year-old naturopathic-medicine practice to work full-time for the company.
" My passion is to help people become healthier by eating nutritious foods," says Callaway, founder and CEO of Organic Bistro and its parent company, Callaway Consumer Products of Scottsdale, Ariz. " I have seen the positive transformation in people's health by eating healthy foods, and I want this to be available to the masses."
Callaway came up with the idea for a line of certified-organic frozen entrees called Organic Bistro Whole Life Meals after seeing numerous patients with conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Most of her patients wanted to eat healthfully but did not have the time to cook or the expertise to choose healthy ingredients. Callaway and chef Stephanie Green, R.D., wrote recipes and developed nutritious, delicious meals.
Organic Bistro quickly found a niche in the marketplace. Its six meals are all organic, gluten- and dairy-free, and low-glycemic. Each is designed to provide optimal amounts of fiber, vegetables, omega-3 fats and lean protein.
As a little kid, you wanted to grow up to be ... The president of the United States. This dream carried over into high school and college, where I took a lot of classes in politics. But I soon realized I was more of an entrepreneur than a politician. What was your first exposure to the naturals industry? It was when I worked at a small health food co-op in Taos, N.M., prior to medical school. This is where I really learned about the value of organic foods.
What are you most proud of? I am most proud of the marketing-outreach program we have built with teams of dietitians across the nation. These dietitians represent Organic Bistro products at special events, health expos and support groups to educate diabetics, celiac patients and others about nutrition. I think this raises health awareness and helps us become one of those companies that people look up to for nutritional information.
If you had one piece of advice for natural products retailers, what would it be? To think outside the box about marketing events and in-store demos, to collaborate with manufacturers both inside and outside the store, to communicate with shoppers and to continually research what is in demand in the marketplace.
If Ben & Jerry's named a flavor after you, what would it be? It would be a super-premium vanilla bean with dark chocolate chunks.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 8/p. 19