Whole Foods Market

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Mother-daughter duo Beth and Becky Taylor, known as The Hearty Vegan, are the only certified tempeh growers in Texas. Above is their tempeh, which can be used like beef or chicken. The Hearty Vegan is currently in UT co-ops and hopes to also sell their product in Whole Foods (Photo courtesy of The Hearty Vegan).

Despite the shadow of today’s stifling economy, small business owners Beth and Becky Taylor have subsisted on a passion for delicious food and the adoration of their loyal customers, specializing in the Indonesian delicacy called “tempeh.” This mother and daughter duo, known commercially as The Hearty Vegan, aims to extend their meatless cuisine beyond UT co-ops to larger retailers like Whole Foods Market.

For those unfamiliar with this particular derivation of soybeans, tempeh is a dish that originally developed in the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia. After being grinded and boiled, the beans are inoculated with what is known as a “starter,” or a specific type of fungal spores. For a subsequent period of 24 hours, the fungus digests the beans, breaking down the carbohydrates, sugars and proteins.

“It’s hard for humans to extract all of the nutrients that are in the beans, but once they are fermented, you really can,” Beth Taylor explained. “I brought this [tempeh] dish to a potluck once and it was so crowded that we didn’t really get a chance to explain what the food was, and when it came back around people were really surprised that they weren’t eating chicken.”

From barbeque to deep fry, tempeh is capable of taking on a whole range of tastes. Sharing a spongy texture comparable to most meat, it can even be used as a direct substitute for sausage, taco filler, kebabs and much more.

“It’s similar in protein content and nutrients to beef,” Becky Taylor said, “But you can marinate it and make it sort of any flavor you want.”

Since starting out, the Taylor family has picked a number of new retailers, most notably the Halstead and Taos co-ops that are located by UT’s campus. Ashley Birkner, a food coordinator at the Taos co-op, specifically looks out for local growers like Becky and Beth Taylor because they represent a sustainable consumer-producer relationship.

“Taos has been buying tempeh from them since last spring. One of the goals of the cooperative movement is to help in the building of a more sustainable society, and part of that is the growing of other cooperatives and small, local businesses,” remarked Birkner. “So, any time we find someone like The Hearty Vegan, who provides great service and great products, we’re excited to be able to do business with them.”

But as the Taylor family has discovered, winning over the hearts and stomachs of food lovers isn’t always ideal in a small business setting. The path to success has often been paved with sleepless nights and work without pay. Two years of cooking, marketing and saving has only just started turning a profit for The Hearty Vegan.

Though the learning curve has been steep, Becky Taylor said the company grew about 450 percent from the first to second year.

“If your mindset is, ‘There’s no other way but forward,’ then you work through all the things that make you quit and it’s very good, even for your own personal growth,” Beth added.

Nonetheless, copious amounts of unrelenting work are slowly beginning to pay off, and not just in revenue. After eight months deliberation with the Austin Health and Human Services Department, The Hearty Vegan is now the only certified tempeh grower in the state of Texas.

Because the production of tempeh involves keeping food within the “Danger Zone,” a set of temperatures between 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this feat was not easy to come by.

“In order to get our stamp of approval, we had to figure out ways to deal with each of the main pathogens: salmonella, listeria and clostridium, which is botulism,” Beth Taylor said.

Becky and Beth Taylor now have their minds set on Whole Foods Market, a commercial retailer of locally-grown, organic food products. Even with distributors shipping tempeh to Dallas and San Antonio, catching the eye of Whole Foods could be The Hearty Vegan’s biggest break yet.

“Whole Foods said we have a great product, and that’s half of it, but you need a great label, and that’s the other half of it,” Becky said.

Independent of business growth, however, the Taylors assert that bigger ideas are at work behind their food.

“You can kind of love people through cooking for them,” Beth Taylor said. “And at the heart of it, it’s animal rights.”

Printed on Monday, October 29, 2012 as: Vegan duo to expand: Small business hopes to sell tempeh to larger retailers, advocate veganism

Meditation Flash Mob

Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

A woman meditates behind Whole Foods Market downtown. Austinites gathered for a meditation flash mob during rush hour traffic Thursday evening, in hopes of giving frustrated drivers a sense of peace.

Whole Foods Market, the Austin-based Fortune 500 supermarket chain, experienced an all-time high in its stocks last Thursday, marking a major point in the company’s post-recession recovery and growth.

The company’s stock peaked at $82.36 per share Thursday and closed Friday at $81.62. The stock began sinking in 2005, dropping from a former all-time high of $79.90 to below $9 per share by November of 2008.

The company took steps after their stock began plummeting to combat economic turbulence, said company spokesperson Libba Letton. This meant slowing down and looking at company expenses more sharply. Measures involved cost-cutting, slowed expansion and implementation of more sales strategies such as deals, sales and coupons.

“We weren’t sure we’d done a good job of emphasizing the value of our products,” Letton said.

Assistant finance professor Cesare Fracassi said the company’s rise in success during national economic turbulence was due to a lack of competition. Whole Foods Market was successful because they market luxury items — those being high-quality, organic groceries. He said Whole Foods doesn’t have as much competition as lower-quality grocery stores.

“Think of their products like jewelry, a luxury good,” Fracassi said. “High-quality but expensive.”

Letton said she believed the recent success of the company had more to do with the move towards healthier living in the U.S.

“While I won’t disagree with the quality of our products, I see them as being more of a lifestyle good,” Letton said. “There has been an increased American trend towards a healthier lifestyle, and that is reflected in our sales.”

Mathematics sophomore Brandon LaVoppui said he shops at Whole Foods because of the large variety.

“They have everything I could want, especially in terms of fruit, vegetables and meat,” LaVoppui said. “All their products are well-organized and appealing.”

LaVoppui said he also enjoys the helpful and pleasant atmosphere, which puts Whole Foods a level above other supermarkets.

“Customer service is unmatchable,” LaVoppui said. “It’s not just a grocery store, but a place to hang out.”

Letton said the company is preparing to expand into more markets as the economic recovery progresses.

“The company is currently revamping their economic strategy, this time for post-recession growth. They plan to open a record number of new stores in smaller markets where surprising success has been observed,” Letton said. “There is a lot of room for expansion.”

Printed on Monday, February 13, 2012 as: Whole Foods stock rises to new heights

Whole Foods Market co-CEO John Mackey used to wash dishes at a Houston restaurant, and now he oversees an international chain of organic food stores — a success story Mackey shared with business students at a lecture Thursday night. Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, led a question-and-answer session with Mackey during which the co-CEO gave his views on his company’s success. Although Mackey studied philosophy as a UT student in the 1970s, he has always been interested in healthy living. In 1978, Mackey borrowed $10,000 from his father to start a natural food store. Two years later, he launched the first Whole Foods with a group of partners. “I’m on fire about the idea of educating people on how to eat,” Mackey said. “Our country is sick, and we spend so much money on health care, but the medical system can’t cure it — only the individual can.” With that, the audience of about 300 erupted in approval. The mission of Whole Foods is to create a synergistic culture between customers, employees, stakeholders and leaders — not just to make profit, Mackey said. While growth is a goal of Whole Foods, spreading healthy food to the world takes precedent in the company’s business model. “We are a mission-driven company,” Mackey said. “We have a mission to sell healthy food and to have a different relationship with our stakeholders.” Fortune magazine ranked Whole Foods one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” the past 14 years in a row. When asked how Whole Foods motivates its employees, Mackey said you can’t really motivate someone; it’s easier to select enthusiastic people. “Once you create a conscious culture, it selects itself,” Mackey said. “The human condition is to be fundamentally happy, and you have to set up a business for that to flourish.” Mackey’s theory of “Conscious Capitalism,” which drives Whole Foods, has four parts: a business must have a higher potential than to just make money, a stakeholder model recognizing that there are several stakeholders that have interest in the business, conscious leadership and a culture that supports stakeholders and leadership. “Whole Foods is very nontraditional,” Gilligan said. “They are among the pioneers that have taken a novel approach and been successful.” Whole Foods is planning to open wellness clubs at stores in major cities that members can join to get discounts on the healthiest foods. Whole Foods is taking it upon itself to educate people about healthy lifestyle choices, Mackey said. “As a skeptic foodie, I wanted to know if [Whole Foods’] business practices were as conscious as they claim,” said international nutrition junior Jackie Anderson. “You can tell that it’s not just a business goal but a life goal. He cares about the community, and the profit drive is for the stakeholders.”

Whole Foods Market co-CEO John Mackey used to wash dishes at a Houston restaurant, and now he oversees an international chain of organic food stores — a success story Mackey shared with business students at a lecture Thursday night. Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, led a question-and-answer session with Mackey during which the co-CEO gave his views on his company’s success. Although Mackey studied philosophy as a UT student in the 1970s, he has always been interested in healthy living. In 1978, Mackey borrowed $10,000 from his father to start a natural food store. Two years later, he launched the first Whole Foods with a group of partners. “I’m on fire about the idea of educating people on how to eat,” Mackey said. “Our country is sick, and we spend so much money on health care, but the medical system can’t cure it — only the individual can.” With that, the audience of about 300 erupted in approval. The mission of Whole Foods is to create a synergistic culture between customers, employees, stakeholders and leaders — not just to make profit, Mackey said. While growth is a goal of Whole Foods, spreading healthy food to the world takes precedent in the company’s business model. “We are a mission-driven company,” Mackey said. “We have a mission to sell healthy food and to have a different relationship with our stakeholders.” Fortune magazine ranked Whole Foods one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” the past 14 years in a row. When asked how Whole Foods motivates its employees, Mackey said you can’t really motivate someone; it’s easier to select enthusiastic people. “Once you create a conscious culture, it selects itself,” Mackey said. “The human condition is to be fundamentally happy, and you have to set up a business for that to flourish.” Mackey’s theory of “Conscious Capitalism,” which drives Whole Foods, has four parts: a business must have a higher potential than to just make money, a stakeholder model recognizing that there are several stakeholders that have interest in the business, conscious leadership and a culture that supports stakeholders and leadership. “Whole Foods is very nontraditional,” Gilligan said. “They are among the pioneers that have taken a novel approach and been successful.” Whole Foods is planning to open wellness clubs at stores in major cities that members can join to get discounts on the healthiest foods. Whole Foods is taking it upon itself to educate people about healthy lifestyle choices, Mackey said. “As a skeptic foodie, I wanted to know if [Whole Foods’] business practices were as conscious as they claim,” said international nutrition junior Jackie Anderson. “You can tell that it’s not just a business goal but a life goal. He cares about the community, and the profit drive is for the stakeholders.”

The ice cream man doesn’t seem to exist anymore, at least around campus. Even though Amy’s Ice Creams is a local favorite for frozen desserts, Austin’s diverse selection of gelato makes this Italian treat another worthy summer indulgence.

The strong flavors and less creamy nature of gelato have made it a popular alternative to ice cream. Unlike ice cream, gelato is made from milk and cream — rather than just cream — and some variations of gelato even forgo the latter altogether. It also contains less sugar than ice cream, giving it a lower fat content. On top of this, gelato is made at a slow churning rate, which makes this Italian dessert denser and more filling than most ice creams.

Dolce Vita
Dolce Vita, a swanky coffee and dessert shop located in the heart of Hyde Park, offers a creative selection of gelato as well as sorbets. Made fresh daily, Dolce Vita’s gelato is prepared with whole milk and no cream, making the treat rich in flavor.

Despite its small selection, Dolce Vita is constantly experimenting with new flavors and rotating unique choices. Seasonal fruits such as figs are made into a sweet, milky gelato as well as a corresponding, tarter sorbet. Even sweeter flavors such as chocolate Guinness and peanut butter Nutella are also worth trying.

Dolce Vita’s dark lighting and relaxed patio make it the perfect place for a date-night dessert.

WHAT: Dolce Vita
WHERE: 4222 Duval St.
WHEN: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-midnight; Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-midnight

Tèo
Hidden within the 26 Doors Shopping Center on 38th Street, Tèo is one of the only Austin shops dedicated to gelato. Tèo, like Dolce Vita, also makes its gelato with milk rather than cream, but Tèo offers a larger selection of gelato, showcasing classic flavors such as espresso and dark chocolate alongside unconventional choices such as Cap’n Crunch.

Tèo’s salted caramel gelato has a surprisingly delicious flavor. The frozen treat is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Tèo also hosts $2 Tuesdays where you can get a small serving of gelato for $2 when you pay cash.

WHAT: Tèo
WHERE: 1206 W. 38th St.
WHEN: Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 8 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Whole Foods versus Central Market
The battle of the upscale grocery stores continues beyond their food selection into the realm of desserts. Both Whole Foods Market and Central Market serve a decent array of gelato flavors.

Panna cotta with coffee crunch and soy chocolate are some of the decadent options found at Central Market. For the less adventurous, Whole Foods serves the basics, such as chocolate and stracciatella (a white gelato with chocolate shavings), but also offers more unique flavors, including avocado and bacon.

Both places use cream as well as milk in their gelato recipes. Their choices are much creamier and heavier than that of Tèo and Dolce Vita and are more reminiscent of ice cream. Central Market does a better job capitalizing on the richness of their gelato, however, by offering sweeter flavors.

WHAT: Whole Foods Market
WHERE: 525 N. Lamar Blvd.
WHEN: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

WHAT: Central Market
WHERE: 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.
WHEN: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily