Today, it’s easy to take for granted how easily we can find high quality organic produce and ready-to-eat greens at just about any grocery store across the country. But when Earthbound Farm got its humble start more than 30 years ago, not many people were growing produce organically. It was often seen as inferior quality and relegated to hole-in-the-wall health food stores. And “salad” was iceberg lettuce.
We’re proud to say that our Earthbound Farm founders, Drew and Myra Goodman, changed the produce game and started a packaged salad revolution – and did it organically. The Earthbound Farm story, which started in 1984 on a 2½ acre raspberry farm, is one rooted in our founders’ simple but fundamental belief in living harmoniously with the land to bring more delicious, organic food to the world.
Over the years, this belief has remained at the core of all we do, and we strive to uphold Drew and Myra’s original pioneering and innovating spirit. And while we’ve evolved from the face of small organic…to medium organic…to as-big-as-it-gets organic, it didn’t happen overnight. Just with any seed, Earthbound Farm needed to be continuously watered and nurtured to continue to realize its full potential.
Both Drew and Myra hailed from the concrete jungle of Manhattan and made their separate ways west for college. While they went to the same high school in New York and were peripherally acquainted, it wasn’t until they were (re)introduced in Berkeley, California that they fell in love.
Upon graduation, they were drawn to living closer to nature while preparing to go to graduate school and begin their careers. They landed on a 2½-acre plot in rural Carmel Valley, that they agreed to fix up in exchange for rent. In addition to the fruit and nut trees on the property, there was a plot of heirloom raspberries, which they harvested and sold at a road-side stand at the end of their driveway. During this time, the Goodmans truly embraced farm life, were ultimately seduced by the land and consequentially never made it to grad school.
Perhaps the most formative moment in their story was the decision to farm organically. Drew and Myra had zero farming experience and hadn’t given much thought to how food is grown. So when the previous owner gave them a quick tutorial about farming raspberries and the toxic, synthetic chemicals typically used to grow them, they knew instinctively, in response to the smell, that they didn’t want to touch the chemicals, let alone put them on the land (which was also their own back yard) to grow food. So they set out to find a better way. As this was pre-internet and before organic was mainstream, they got their hands on a copy of Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening and applied the methods to their land. The more they learned, the more committed they became to farming organically and never looked back.
Soon after the Goodmans saw success selling raspberries and culinary herbs, they started growing organic baby lettuces, for which there was a quickly growing market with local gourmet restaurants.
The more they grew, the harder it became to actually enjoy their own crops. They’d often find themselves eating frozen pizza because they were too tired to prepare fresh food. They ultimately realized if they forced themselves to harvest, wash and bag greens every Sunday, they would eat more salad…and it worked! Needless to say, they were onto something big.
In the mid-80’s, Earthbound became the first company to successfully launch prewashed, packaged salad for retail sale. Sparking a salad revolution, Earthbound Farm introduced its signature Spring Mix to restaurants and supermarkets, which was met with great enthusiasm and demand. It was time to scale the business.
Drew and Myra soon moved operations from their home to a new headquarters and processing facilities, opened the Farm Stand—a place where they could maintain a direct connection with their customers and the land—and created partnerships with multi-generational, family-owned farming businesses from the Salinas Valley, including Mission Ranches and Tanimura & Antle, which could help them marry the principles of farming at scale with those of organic.
Thanks to continued innovation—including a new machine to precisely harvest delicate baby greens, a process previously done by hand—Earthbound Farm became the largest grower of organic produce in the country. This is a distinction we still hold today. Gourmet greens and packaged salads are now a grocery store staple.
Over the years, we added a host of other organic fruits, vegetables, and other innovative fresh and frozen offerings to our product line-up and have led the industry in social responsibility and environmentally sustainable practices.
In 2009, Earthbound Farm’s success caught the attention of HM Capital Partners, who saw even more potential and invested the resources and expertise to support our continued industry leadership and growth in the organic category. Ultimately, the success of this investment lead to the purchase of Earthbound Farm by WhiteWave Foods, an independent, leading consumer packaged food and beverage company committed to Changing the Way the World Eats for The Better®.
WhiteWave was purchased by Danone in 2017. Today, we are part of Danone North America, a benefit corporation and the world’s largest Certified B Corp. B corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
As it has throughout its history, Earthbound Farm continues to maintain an unwavering dedication to organic, as expressed in our mission to cultivate a healthier world through organic food & farming.
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