By Kent Stones, Founder and CEO, Dorothy's Power Foods
Something about my Mom that I never appreciated until later in life was how she was always ahead of her time. Born of the depression and raising kids in the '50s and '60s, she lived in ways that wouldn't be popular for years. Very little waste left home, time at meal almost always included something educational, and she tried to use food as a means to health, even if she wasn't fully conscious of all the things she was doing. With food, she minimized sugar in cooking, dried fruit and made roll-ups before that was a thing, grew alfalfa and bean sprouts, cultured her yogurt and tofu. These were just some of the many things she did. (Here’s a great story about how the power of a single phrase led to her going to college.)
We complained bitterly as kids, and I know I took every chance I could to visit friends so I could eat what they thought was just normal: chips, fast food, candy. In looking back, I shake my head at myself. She was doing everything she could to raise healthy kids, and I was doing everything I could to counter it. Today I am so grateful for the foundation she set as I've returned to many of her practices and am seeing my body return to a healthier state.
As adults, we learned that there were heart conditions that ran in her family, and all of her siblings had passed away suddenly in their 70's from cardiac arrest. In her mid 70's, my Mom started experiencing a lot of those same heart health issues, and at one point, she shared with me that her doctor had told her to make sure her affairs were in order. Now, if you knew my Mom, she was stubborn. Rather than accept what the doctor said and medicate, she researched how she might arrest or even reverse the health issues she faced. She learned how food could be medicine and began approaching her nutrition and health in a very different way. Remarkably, her blood work went from very concerning to be in the normal ranges. The food she ate, along with daily exercise at the senior center and ongoing intellectual stimulation, allowed her to live a rich, full life until she was 95.
After she passed, I started experiencing many of the same conditions, with some frightening episodes that I had not appreciated when my Mom described hers. After tests and consultation, I had inherited the same heart health issues. You suddenly understand the fragility of life and the importance of every single day. It led me to spend the rest of my life doing something meaningful, honoring my parents' approach to life. I decided to start Dorothy's Power Foods.
It must be more than a typical food company. This company's essence will be everything my parents sought to instill in their children: simplicity, selflessness, intellectual curiosity, food as medicine, and staying active. Our first product is the hot cereal she designed. By "designed," she researched grains and seeds for their health benefits, but each morning it was simply a handful of this and that, but no recipe or specific measurement. She ate it most mornings, and whenever I would visit, that was breakfast. She felt it was an essential piece of her overall health transformation and I enjoyed it but would only make it at home when I had time because, frankly, it is a process to make it.
The most important part is what we'll do with our profits. We're not just going to talk about purpose and donations to causes. We're going to live with intention, be about action, not words. To that end, the company will ultimately run as a "B" corporation (benefits corporation), but we can't from the start because it takes time to become certified. That means we'll seek to earn a fair profit that allows us to sustain the company and treat employees with dignity. Twenty-five percent of those profits will go toward upgrading and maintaining senior centers in rural communities.
The senior center in my Mom's town was one of the most critical places in her life. She communed with friends and exercised to old Jane Fonda VHS tapes. But the building and equipment are old and need some tender, loving care. We're figuring out how we can offer support to rural senior centers and expand as we reasonably can. The goal is to make sure each center building is safe, clean, and has all the proper equipment to assure that the seniors that use it have everything they need. We eventually want to network them all so not only can they be part of their local community, they can connect with other rural communities across the country. I'll have more on this project soon and how cities can contact us.
We're excited about the future and can't wait to hear your thoughts about Dorothy's Power Gruel and the other products we planning. We hope you love it as much as we do.