This month, Earthbound turns 32. Anniversaries are always an important opportunity to pause, reflect and give gratitude for what came before and to embrace the possibilities of what’s yet to be. The Earthbound Farm story, which started in 1984, is one rooted in a simple but fundamental belief in living harmoniously with the land to bring more delicious, organic food to the world. It’s what inspired our founders, and it’s the torch all of us who have joined the company over the years proudly carry each day. And just with any seed, it needs to be watered and nurtured over its lifetime to realize its full potential.
Today, you can find high quality organic produce at just about any grocery store across the country, but when Earthbound Farm got its humble start 32 years ago, organic food was relegated to hole-in-the-wall health food stores and salad was synonymous with iceberg lettuce. Not only were there few people growing organically at the time, but it was often seen as inferior quality. We’re proud to say that our founders helped changed the organic produce game…and it all started with raspberries…
From the concrete jungle of Manhattan to an organic farm in California, Drew and Myra Goodman were young transplants who settled on a 2.5-acre raspberry farm in California in 1984. They had no farming experience, but sought the romanticism of living closer to nature before going to grad school and starting their careers. Shocked to learn the reality of how many toxic, synthetic chemicals were typically used in growing produce conventionally, they were convinced there was a better way. They committed themselves to working the land and growing food organically, long before the organic movement went mainstream — quite simply because it was food they would proudly eat themselves and serve to family and friends.
Initially, Drew and Myra sold their raspberries at a makeshift road-side stand at the end of their driveway. Needing a farm name for their hand-written signage, Myra suggested, “How about Earth Born?”, and Drew misheard her and repeated, “Earth Bound?” She said “Yes”, and the rest is history.
As their rapture with the land continued and desire to go to return to the city faded, the Goodmans started hearing from friends that a chef in Berkeley (Alice Waters of Chez Panisse) had started buying baby lettuces for salads featured on her menu. Drew and Myra saw the opportunity this presented: these were greens they could start growing in their yard and that would take a fraction of the time to mature than fully grown lettuce. And so began their foray into organic baby greens.
Simultaneously, with the more produce they grew, the harder it became to actually enjoy their own bounty. They’d often find themselves eating frozen pizza because they were too tired from farming to prepare fresh food. They ultimately decided if they forced themselves to harvest, wash and zip lock greens every Sunday, they would eat more salad…and they did! Then a light went off: Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get these fresh, pre-washed organic packaged greens anywhere? While many people believed baby lettuces would be but a quick-lived restaurant fad, Drew and Myra saw the broader, longer term opportunity to create easy access to high quality and ready-to-eat organic produce.
Needless to say, they were onto something big. In 1986, Earthbound became the first company to successfully launch prewashed, packaged salad for retail sale. Sparking a “salad revolution,” Earthbound introduced its signature Spring Mix to restaurants and supermarkets, which garnered great enthusiasm and increasing demand. With this increased demand, they realized they could no longer conduct business solely from their home and would need to scale quickly. They moved to new headquarters and processing facilities and created partnerships with established organic growers in the area to fulfill ever-growing demand.
By 1998, Earthbound Farm became the largest grower of organic produce in the country, a distinction we still hold today. Gourmet greens and packaged salads are now a grocery store staple. We have added a host of other organic fruits, vegetables, and other innovative fresh and frozen options over the years. During this time, we have also led the industry in harvesting innovation, social responsibility and environmentally sustainable practices. You can read more about these efforts and other Earthbound Farm historical milestones, here, some of which are also featured at exhibits within the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC.
THANK YOU for helping us grow from 2 ½ acres to more than more than 45,000 crop acres today. We look forward to continuing to make history by bringing Earthbound Farm products to your table and enjoying the benefits of organic food, grown with care on our farms.