Wholesome Sweetener: Blackstrap Molasses

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Wholesome Sweetener has been a pioneer of their industry since 2001. With collaborations with farmers and locals in Indonesia, Malawi, Mauritius, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, Wholesome has baked empowering farmer communities into their DNA. 


WS believes that fair food creates stronger communities, which is why they have prioritized equality and social justice within the countries they work in across the globe. This mindset has prompted a priority of providing fair wages, safe working conditions, education and healthcare to their partner communities. This has primarily been ensured by the FairTrade Certified entity, a thorough and accountable certification process.


FairTrade is based on the simple idea that the products bought and sold every day are connected to the livelihoods of others. To date, Wholesome have provided 23 million dollars worth of proceeds to the farmers who provide them with the sugar cane that produces the Blackstrap Molasses that you enjoy in every MUIR gel. 


Wholesome and FairTrade recognized that farmers of different crops face very different challenges, thus the FairTrade business model is such that farmers are given the autonomy and guidance to choose where the funds are allocated. Through a democratic selection process, the sugar communities vote on how to use their FairTrade premiums based on the needs of the community. 








Below is a breakdown of how farming families and cooperatives voted in 2019:


FairTrade sugar sourcing addresses real challenges in farming communities and helps improve livelihoods at the beginning of the supply chain. Every day challenges experienced by sugar cane farmers include: low income per yield, lack of access to health services, harsh working conditions, and unsustainable production. Through the proceeds from Wholesome to FairTrade, solutions such as productivity investments, health clinics, rigorous labor and environmental standards are now able to be implemented.


In 2019, Wholesome was the leading sweetener brand in FairTrade sourcing, responsible for 70% of total premiums paid to sugar, honey and agave farmers; over $2 million dollars were invested back in these communities.



As if this wasn’t all incredible news, sustainable infrastructure beyond the harvest has been considered! The sugar cane by-product, bagasse, fuels electricity generation for local towns, effectively making them carbon neutral. 


Wholesome Sweetener also gives back domestically, fighting food insecurity and racial injustice through their support for Bakers Against Racism and Feeding America. Bakers Against Racism works to elevate BIPOC voices in the baking industry, while Feeding America creates food security for those without access to healthy, reliable meals. 


We are humbled and inspired by the paths our vendor partners have taken. It brings immense optimism and hope that together as companies and consumers, we can create a much more hospitable and ethical global experience.

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When we started spending long hours in the mountains, it didn’t take many trips to realize we needed to pack food and hydration to keep feeling good and strong. 

So we headed to our local running shops, supermarkets, and specialty grocers for sport nutrition products to experiment with. Maybe you can relate.

From the shelves and the web stores we selected bars, gels, waffles, snack mixes, chews, drinks, and shakes. Even gummies and shots, powders and pills. We gave all the strange packets and bars and bottles a chance to prove themselves to us. 

To our dismay, we found the content of each product was essentially the same: a shiny hyper-masculine package of unpronounceable ingredients promising to ‘take our game to the next level,’ to be slurped down one after the other as soon as the energy surge wears off. 

After consuming enough of these, our stomachs would turn and the quality of the run, hike, or bike would turn with them. We learned our experiences were very common after consulting with fellow outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. For all the promise on the package, we were left severely underwhelmed. 

Besides, it was clear to us that the marketing departments of those companies believed only one type of active person is interested in high performing sport nutrition: hyper-masculine, results-driven super athletes. 

The reality is that only a few people can relate to that extremely narrow persona. So where does that leave the hikers? The mountain ridge traversers? The wildflower pickers? The sailors and the climbers? They deserve a company that understands them, too. 

As we worked our way through the different shapes and colors of birthday party flavored sport nutrition products, we wondered why they all seemed to entirely remiss any responsibility to the environment. We take care to live conscious, environmentally responsible lives, and it matters to us that the companies we support with our dollars do, too. 

We also took note that these companies failed over and over to understand that health was important to us in every part of our lives. Our dinners don’t include sodium benzoate or locust bean gum, so why did they ask us to forfeit our lifestyle choices when it comes to sport nutrition? Part of the reason we are active is to stay healthy, and by the looks, tastes, and feels, these products didn’t seem healthy to us. At all. 

Our trust in the sport nutrition industry as a whole deteriorated as we unmasked the industry for what it is:  

outdated

hyper-masculine

unsustainable

unpalatable

and unhealthy.  

We questioned, is it really too much to ask for sport nutrition to be high-performing, nourishing, inclusive, and produced in an environmentally conscious way? 

Turns out it’s not. So we decided to be the change.

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