What does the verification process look like?
Hartwig: I have a team that accepts the initial requests. Bare minimum, the products have to meet every single one of our Whole30 program rules. We have a cheat sheet on-line of what we look for. Not just the rules, but our big picture recommendations. We’re looking for, obviously, it has no added sugars, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes. We’re making sure if it has animal protein that it is sustainably and responsibly sourced, so we’re looking for organic, pastured, grass-fed, where applicable.
Then we’re looking at how engaged are you with our community? How engaged are you with your community? How willing are you to work with us and perhaps make changes to your web site or product ingredient list to serve our community?
We’ve had a few people who met the technical requirements and look good on paper, but for whatever reason we felt it just wouldn’t be a good fit for our community, and we passed.
How big is your list of Whole30 Approved products now?
Hartwig: I feel like we have about 70 Whole30 Approved partners. And they all have anywhere from one or two products to a giant product line of things that are Whole30 Approved.
You recently announced a partnership with DNX Foods, which actually reformulated its meat bars to meet the Whole30 standards. What did they have to change?
Hartwig: They had honey in all of their bars, which is not Whole30 compliant … and so they had to reformulate them all by taking the honey out. It’s not as simple as, “We’re going to take the honey out, and it’s going to be good.” They really went through a big process of testing for taste and texture and nutrition information to make sure the bars are even tastier but also fit the Whole30 program rules … it was a pretty intensive process. We’d been talking about it for about six months.
What did they add in place of the honey?
Hartwig: They added a little bit of dates, which are a pretty typical binder used in protein sticks, and then they get natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables in the bars, like sweet potatoes for example.
I so admire the initiative DNX took to open their products up to our community. I think portable, healthy sustainably and responsibly raised animal protein is one of the hardest things to find for anyone, not just a Whole30er. You can always grab a banana at the airport or a package of almonds, but finding protein that’s responsibly raised and sourced and low sugar and no grains … is really hard to do.
I think their addition to the Whole30 Approved lineup will be one of most welcome announcements we’ve made all year. My community is already going crazy for the idea to have another option for portable protein for their January Whole30.