Garden of Life Collagen: The Importance of Traceability
Highly processed foods loaded with preservatives, additives, and other chemicals have been linked to a number of health problems, including obesity, and endocrine disorders. A 2016 study found that 57.9 percent of people’s calorie intake came from ultra-processed foods that are laced with food additives and other chemicals. Today, however, a growing segment of the population is demanding access to healthier, unprocessed foods. As consumers across the country continue to demand healthier, more natural, and more nutritious food alternatives, food brands are attempting to shorten the ingredient list on the products they put to market.
The local food movement is exploding across the country, with farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs popping up in virtually every town and city. Consumers are discovering the health benefits of purchasing single-ingredient products, free from preservatives and additives. While buying tomatoes and farm fresh eggs from local farmers might be possible for much of the year, the average consumer continues to rely on retail grocery stores for the majority of their food purchases.
Garden of Life is one company that seeks to offer consumers a variety of natural, organic, and GMO-free food products. Understanding that more and more consumers want to know where the ingredients in their food products and supplements come from, Garden of Life has committed to the ethic of traceability. According to the company, “traceability is key to what makes Garden of Life’s products so special. (It) starts with knowing where each and every ingredient in our products comes from and getting to know each and every source: where it’s grown; the farming practices; how they pay and treat the farm workers—everything.”
Who is Garden of Life?
Garden of Life is one of the leading brands providing consumers with Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified vitamins and supplements. The company manufactures a wide variety of health food supplements, including vitamins, probiotics, protein products, herbal products, natural collagen-based products, and now CBD supplements as well. The company focuses on bringing to market certified whole foods that have the greatest potential to impact and empower holistic health. Their supplements are free from chemical food additives and preservatives, and they rely on extensive third-party verification for all of the products they bring to market. Some of the third party certifications their products have received include:
- USDA Certified Organic
- Certified Gluten-Free
- Paleo Certified
- Keto Certified
- Non-GMO Project Verified
Recently, Garden of Life has released several new items in their grass-fed line of collagen products. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body (around 30 percent of the body´s total protein level) and is essential for giving strong structure to tissues including skin, muscles, bone, hair, tendons, and cartilage. A 2019 literature review in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that collagen supplements could increase skin elasticity, collagen density, and overall hydration. The entire line of collagen supplements offered by Garden of Life can fortify hair, skin, and nails, as well as support healthy joints and mobility.
Garden of Life’s collagen is sourced from grass-fed and pasture-raised cattle that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics. The expansion of the grass-fed collagen line includes the following innovative collagen-based supplements:
- Garden of Life Collagen Protein: This product is designed for supporting joints, mobility, and muscle repair, and includes seed-based proteins sourced from organic hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, and watermelon seeds.
- Garden of Life Collagen Coconut MCT: This product includes a healthy dose of MCT from organically grown coconuts to promote health and energy. It also offers probiotics for healthier digestion.
- Garden of Life Collagen Creamer: For coffee or tea drinkers, this collagen creamer includes MCTs from coconut milk and type I and II collagen peptides for a delicious, dairy-free creamer.
- Garden of Life Collagen Greens Beauty: This product combines grass-fed collagen peptides with organically grown and alkalizing parsley, alfalfa and wheatgrass juices with a heaping 15 spinach and 15 kale leaves in every serving.
The Importance of Traceability in Ingredients
The globalization of our economy and food system means that many food products are manufactured from ingredients sourced from different corners of the world. The average box of a breakfast cereal might contain wheat that is grown in Washington State, rice grown in China, sugar from Guatemala, and dozens of other chemical food additives sourced from laboratories in India, Europe, and everywhere in between. Knowing who produced those ingredients, under what conditions, and the social and ecological effects of that production is often close to impossible. Most companies offer little to no information regarding where their ingredients are sourced, and simply resort to cheap publicity stunts that attempt to convince consumers that the company has a direct relationship with their growers and providers (think of that friendly coffee farmer Juan Valdez used so often by coffee conglomerates).
Despite this reality, consumers are increasingly demanding transparency in regards to the sources of their food. Fair trade produce, coffee, and chocolate are continuing to demand ever greater market shares as socially conscious consumers willingly spend more for ethically produced products. Similarly, direct to consumer (DTC) marketing by local farmers is continuing to gain steam. In 2012, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report to Congress found that local and regional food sales in the U.S. totaled US$6.1 billion and that number has only continued to grow in the past years.
Food supplements and prepared food products, however, are sometimes harder to come by through local marketing channels. Garden of Life has stepped in to fill this void by promising their customers complete traceability in the sometimes long list of ingredients for the health food products and supplements that they market.
Brian Ray, president of Garden of Life, says that “we’ve always had a passion for helping people achieve extraordinary health, and that starts with using extraordinary ingredients. By sourcing ingredients from farmers who share our values for raising cattle that roam free, feed on non-GMO grass, are treated humanely and not treated with antibiotics or hormones, we can provide an added assurance of quality for health-conscious consumers seeking collagen products.”
For example, Garden of Life´s Grass Fed Collagen Beauty product includes a diverse ingredient list, including grass-fed bovine type I and III collagen peptides, silica from organic bamboo, biotin from organic sesbania, vitamin C from organic amla, CFU probiotics for enhanced digestion, and natural flavors including Cranberry Pomegranate and Strawberry Lemonade. All of these ingredients are not only certified organic and GMO-free, but also have been carefully traced from their origin, so that the company can guarantee their health-enhancing qualities.
Garden of Life´s websites states that “building a clean supply chain is tricky because many materials appear clean. But as you get closer, you find they’re not really clean. A truly “clean” product begins with truly clean ingredients or raw materials.”
To build a reputable supply chain that supplies their customers with certified organic, GMO-free, and health-enhancing products, Garden of Life focuses on treating the laborers throughout their supply chain ethically. This not only implies fair and just wages, but it also ensure optimum product quality by avoiding the temptation to reduce costs through cheapening ingredients. Also, the company has invested the time and effort that is needed to personally get to know each and every source of the raw materials used for their products. They have developed relationships with everyone from small cattle farmers who raise their cows on grass-fed pasture to the smaller farm workers that harvest other ingredients that go into their supplements.
Lastly, undergoing rigorous, third-party verification is also an important element of traceability, as this ensures the end customer that Garden of Life´s transparency claims are backed up by independent accreditation systems and processes.
Honesty and Transparency to Increase Customer Loyalty
People who are willing to pay more for healthy and more nutritious food products will most likely want to see hard evidence that the products they purchase were produced through ethical supply chains that were also environmentally friendly. Furthermore, transparent business operations that focus on complete traceability of ingredients can also help to increase customer retention rates. Over two thirds of consumers agree that “a good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will soon stop buying it.”
Garden of Life offers an inspiring example of a health food brand that has invested the time and resources necessary to build honest and transparent relationships with their customers. A recent study by The Consumer Goods Forum finds that more than seven out of every ten consumers are interested in hearing about the social, health, environmental and safety impacts of the products they buy or the company that makes them.
Garden of Life´s Success only further proves this point.