What is your long-term vision for this program? Can you see yourself manufacturing and selling Whole30 Approved foods?
Hartwig: Nope. I don’t want to. There are so many people out there that are making incredible products. They are so good at what they’re doing. I have no interest and I don’t think it serves my community for me to divert my resources to actually making food. I would rather lift up people who are doing good work and want to serve my community and to partner with them and let them do what they do best.
It’s a win for everyone. It’s a win for me because I have more resources for my community. It’s a win for the community because they have more access to Whole30 compliant products. It’s a win for the company because the Whole30 Approved certification opens them up to a whole new market.
Is there still a lot of consumer education needed, or are people mostly familiar with Whole30 and what that label means?
Hartwig: I think people are really aware of what it means. This is the thing I love about the Whole30 Approved designation. Whole30 is your lowest common denominator in terms of what people would consider squeaky clean or allergen-free or healthy choices.
What I see people doing in grocery stores who eat gluten-free or paleo or primal or dairy-free or they’re soy free or just want to eliminate sugar … they see the Whole30 label on a product, and they automatically know it meets their criteria. It goes above and beyond their criteria. I think it opens up the product to a variety of audiences who are concerned on one level or another about what’s in their food.
People who look at that label may not understand all of the nuances of the rules, that it means this bar is carrageenan-free, but I know that they know that means it is generally at minimum gluten- and sugar-free. I think that’s really impressive at this point in a marketplace where consumers aren’t always super educated.
What’s next for you and Whole30 in the New Year?
Hartwig: We just launched two new books … One is a cookbook, and one is a daily guide to the program. We launched in August a certified coaching program. We’re looking to get boots-on-the-ground support for people who want to do Whole30 in their local communities… We’ll be developing that over the course of next year. And we’re continuing to add more Whole30 Approved partners as well.
We also have a big partnership with Whole Foods Market nationwide in the month of January. Whole Foods will be highlighting Whole30 partners on end caps, and we’ll have an Instagram takeover and lots of cross promotion.