by Ivory King Written 3/27/18
A great product so often comes about as an answer to a question. This was certainly the case with the folks at Partake Foods. When new mom Denise Woodard learned that her child had developed food allergies, she searched the grocery store for snack options that jived with both her healthy, whole foods-based lifestyle and her daughter Vivienne’s multiple allergies. When she couldn’t find delicious options that fit all of her family’s needs, she decided to take action and create her own. She learned quickly that she wasn’t alone - not only are there people who want to eat healthier treats, but we want to be able to share with friends with different dietary restrictions and needs.
Denise and her daughter Vivienne
Made with simple ingredients and without the top 8 most common food allergens, Partake Food's mini cookies come in 3 flavors - sprouted grain chocolate chip, carrot oat, and sweet potato millet. There’s also a variety pack if you like the sound of all of those! Not only are they top 8 allergen-free - no peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, milk, soy, fish or shellfish - they are certified gluten free and vegan. In addition to those allergens and concerns, Partake Foods doesn’t use mustard, sulfites or sesame in their products, or rice, gums, or emulsifiers.
Jersey City-based Partake Foods uses GMO-free, Kosher ingredients without artificial preservatives and colors. But healthy eating isn’t just about what’s not in food products - it’s also important what’s been added to them. These crunchy cookies are made with fruits, vegetables and ancient grains, so there’s actual nutrition in them instead of just baked starch and sugar, as the Woodard family describes in their Kickstarter campaign video. They launched their campaign in 2016, partnered with an allergen-free manufacturing facility, and got nationwide distribution after its successful funding.
Vivienne enjoying some cookies in the art & eden Meadow Dress in Pink Lemonade - $35
Including nutritious foods like carrots and sweet potatoes gives parents a head start on making sure that their kids get vitamins and fiber in their snacks. These veggies also are naturally sweet, allowing for less sugar in the ingredient list. This is particularly an issue with allergen-free food products - many companies replace these ingredients with more sugar to compensate. The Woodards estimate that their cookies use 20 to 30 percent less sugar than the average gluten-free cookie. With cassava, buckwheat and oat flours as the gluten-free base, they also have a unique nutritional makeup.
Allergens in packaged food
Allergen-free food products are becoming more common than ever due to skyrocketing demand for them. It’s estimated that 1 in 13 kids has a food allergy, and that number is expected to grow to 1 in 10 by 2020. FDA regulations have accounted for the 8 most common allergenic foods that cause 90 percent of food allergic reactions, and these allergens must be labelled in the ingredient lists (“lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”) and in a clear “contains [allergen x]” type denotation (“Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”).
While the spread of awareness of allergens is helping people to be more prepared for reactions, anaphylaxis still results in about 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths per year. These reactions are not limited to the 8 most common food allergens - there are more than 160 foods that can cause allergic reactions.
Keeping kids snacks clean
Along with high levels of processed sugar and salt, packaged foods often contain many artificial ingredients. For many parents, the prevalence of artificial food colorings are a cause for concern. Though there isn’t complete conclusive evidence of a direct link between food coloring and ADHD, some studies have shown a connection, according to WebMD. A 2007 study from the UK did show some increase in hyperactive behavior in children between the ages of 3 and 9. Healthier products use natural alternatives to these potentially problematic synthetic colors including plant, animal and mineral sources - like beta-carotene, grape skin extract, caramel color.
Besides the food safety and ingredient quality that Partake Foods takes very seriously, they also believe in treading light on the planet and their commitment to the community. They use 100 percent recycled packaging and give back a percentage of profits to support food allergy research organizations. While Partake is gearing up for a future partnership with Whole Foods, for now they are available in markets in the New York area, on their own website as well as on Amazon. It’s wonderful when supporting family businesses can be tasty, healthy, and sustainable!
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