October Artisan Spotlight: Q&A With Georgia Grinders’ Jaime Foster
Posted on 16 October 2017
At Georgia Crafted, we believe the handcrafted happiness found in local products all comes back to the actual hands (and hearts!) that make them.
That’s why we’re helping you get to know our favorite Georgia artisans better by rebooting our “Artisan Spotlight” blog series! What’s more, we’re kicking off October with a personal chat with one of the friendliest (and fiercest) lady bosses around: Jaime Foster of Georgia Grinders’ premium nut butters.
Video courtesy of Georgia Grinders.
Almost six years ago, Jaime and her husband Harry ran with the not-so-nutty idea of launching their own business with a mission to share finger-licking nut butters that empower healthy living. With over a dozen flavors, two manufacturing facilities, and high praise from Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart under their belt, we’d definitely call Georgia Grinders a home-grown success.
Read on to learn more about Jaime’s almond butter origins, favorite fall recipes, and what supporting local communities means to her — let’s get cracking!
Your inspiration for Georgia Grinders comes back to your grandfather’s homemade almond butter recipe. Can you tell us more about the family history behind your brand?
My grandfather started making almond butter back in the ‘70s. He was your typical engineer and one day someone gave him a jar of almond butter and he thought “wow, I’m going to find a better way to make it.” So he started tinkering around with different grades and varieties of almonds, the roasting process and the grinding process, and perfected what we now know as my grandpa’s almond butter. He shipped it all over the country to his kids and grandkids. When we decided to launch a food business, it made sense to honor my grandfather and his legacy by bringing his almond butter to the consumer marketplace. Not to mention, nut butters were becoming one of the "fastest growing food categories in specialty foods" so the timing was ideal.
Since your start in 2012, Georgia Grinders has won some very prestigious awards. Care to share some of your favorite milestones?
Video courtesy of Georgia Farm Monitor.
We were honored to win the Grand Prize at Flavor of Georgia earlier this year, which was our most recent award. We drizzled pecan butter over vanilla ice cream and won the votes of the judges. Georgia Grinder's Pecan Butter definitely pays tribute to the great state of Georgia, which is the United States' leading producer of pecans. We've also earned the coveted title of “Oprah’s favorite nut butter” in July, 2013, where NaturAlmond Original Almond Butter was featured in the magazine. Our premium nut butters were selected as a "2015 Finalist" for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards, while Rachael Ray featured Georgia Grinder's Peanut Butter in her magazine! We truly are humbled to have received some pretty amazing honors/awards over the years with each one highlighting a different nut butter.
You’ve also stressed the importance of farmer’s markets in your success. Can you tell us more about why you value these local communities?
At the end of the day, the farmer’s markets in local communities are really what’s supported us and given us amo to take our business to the next level. They have acted as a "virtual test kitchen" since the consumers are the people who are sampling our product and giving us direct feedback about how we can improve it. We currently work 7 farmer’s markets on a weekly basis. While it’s a smaller portion of our business, we will continue to participate in markets in the future to support the local food movement, the community, and our loyal partners.
What are some of your favorite local food products to support at farmer’s markets?
Gosh...SO MANY! My son always goes to S&J’s Woodfired Pizza or gets a Farm Burger for his weekly market lunch. I think we buy at least 4 popsicles from King of Pops on a weekly basis and I buy fresh prepared foods from Simply Fresh Market. We tend to get the majority of our produce from from Abundant Harvest and love the gourmet sea salts from Beautiful Briny Sea. Actually, all of the sea salt in our nut butter comes from Briny Beautiful Sea, just like may of the vendors purchase our nut butters as ingredients for products they make too. It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship.
Jumping off of farmer’s markets, what does giving back to local communities mean to you?
First and foremost we’ve partnered with the DeKalb County Vocational Training Program and have three special needs students come in each week and work with us. They’re learning on-the-job training to better prepare them for life once they graduate high school, and they’ve taught us so much too about life and happiness and positive energy.
Also, my mother passed away from ALS earlier this year and so we’ve been very involved with the MDA Night of Hope, which is a big fundraiser for ALS research down at Emory University. Our annual event is coming up October 27 and we always expect to raise just over a million dollars in one night for research down at Emory.
We’re very supportive of The Giving Kitchen as well. It’s a nonprofit organization that basically gives back to restaurant workers in the food industry if they fall on financial hardships or get sick. Many of them don’t have insurance and so The Giving Kitchen raises funds in order to support these workers in times of crisis.
While everyone loves a spoonful of almond butter, can you share some more flavorful recipes involving your nut butters?
Images courtesy of Georgia Grinders.
Everything from baked goods, to toppings on yogurt parfaits and oatmeal, Asian-inspired sauces, along with additions for smoothies and shakes. We’ve made homemade ice cream with our nut butters. The possibilities are endless, as nut butters are extremely versatile and that’s what’s great about our flavor profiles. We have everything from sweet to savory — depending on what you’re going for there’s the perfect nut butter to give you that additional flavor and taste. Definitely check out our Instagram feed, which is full of simple and creative ways to use Georgia Grinders nut butters.
Do you have a favorite fall recipe with your products?
Right now I’m enjoying roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with our pecan butter. It’s really simple but takes the flavors up a notch. We try to keep all our recipes very easy-to-make so that everyone can take advantage of incorporating nut butters into their diet.
Finally, how do you see Georgia Grinders growing in the next 10 years?
We’ve been in business for about 5 ½ years now and our goal is to continue to grow our brand into a national household name, while expanding our line of nut butters. Due to the fact that we own and operate our manufacturing facilities, our manufacturing process has been refined over the past few years. We now have other nut butter companies throughout the US coming to us to make their own products. I foresee us going down the route of co-packing, where we make products for others all while continuing to grow the Georgia Grinders brand. The possibilities are endless and we have an amazing team of employees in place, eager to take it to the next level with us.
Jaime also teased us with unleashing her No. 1 most-requested product idea, a chocolate nut butter, around the holidays — but no promises!