4 Women-Led Oregon Food Companies To Watch in 2021

Sustainable business practices are at the heart of a growing number of artisanal food products.
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women-led business products

Oregon is increasingly viewed as a supportive haven for women-led companies, especially those that are leading on issues of gender equity, economic empowerment and the social fabric of communities. This is especially true in the food industry, where 100’s of female founders embrace environmental care and social justice at the core of their endeavors. If you’re hearing “Run the World” by Beyoncé in your head right now, it isn’t a coincidence. Here are five fast-rising food creatives worth watching in 2021.

Katelyn Williams, Kate’s Ice Cream (Portland)

photo of Kate Williams
Katelyn Williams. Image: Courtesy Kate’s Ice Cream.

It all began when Kate’s youngest sister realized that, for health reasons, she could not eat animal-derived dairy products, which inspired Kate to find a solution. Thus began her journey to create Kate’s Ice Cream, plant-based desserts that were good for her sister and for the environment. Kate and her team keep it local by sourcing ingredients from local farms and vendors and by collaborating with female-led and minority-owned businesses. Her commitment to reducing the environmental imprint of her business is evident in her plant-based desserts.

At her weekends-only Pop-up Ice Cream Shop, customers will discover that all of the flavors are made with coconut or cashew milk. Happily, these frozen treats are no longer off-limits for consumers with dietary restrictions. Ice cream fans can get their sweet fix at the scoop shop on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6 PM or schedule a pick-up for the same timeframe. Her signature pints are sold at select Portland area grocers.. Nationwide shipping is now available.

Judy Goodman, JÖR BAR (Joseph)

photo of Judy Goodman
Judy Goodman. Image: Courtesy Talia Galvin, @taliagalvinphoto.

East of the Umatilla National Forest lies the small remote town of Joseph, Oregon and an all-natural energy and ration bar company called JÖR BAR (pronounced “your”), owned by Judy Goodman. Thirty five years ago she made energy bars to fuel outdoor adventures during her college years. In 2014, after a long career as a fisheries research biologist, Judy moved back to Joseph to begin her journey to launch a product that would help the healthy-minded power up on a hike or at home.

JÖR BAR was founded with a commitment to whole ingredients that were, and still are, free of gluten, GMO’s, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors.  As a Good Food Award winner (2019) and finalist (2020) Goodman has proven that handmade, authentic, and sustainable, responsible sourcing are a winning combination for her business, consumers and the environment. Cranberry Hemp, Espresso Date Nut and Chia Blueberry are but a few of the popular combinations, several of which are enhanced with fair trade chocolate.

JÖR BAR is available wholesale and at retail locations (such as Market of Choice) across the country. 

Christy Goldsby, Honey Mama’s (Portland)

photo of Christy Goldsby
Christy Goldsby. Image: Courtesy Honey Mama’s

Christy Goldsby, owner of Honey Mama’s, doesn’t just want her customers to love her delicious cocoa truffle bars, she wants them to experience a time of nostalgia and joy. Goldsby’s mission is to bring her customers a product that inspires mind, body, and soul transformation. Since inception, her paleo-inspired chocolate bars have contained just five key ingredients, all considered whole food, nutrient-rich superfoods. Fair trade cacao, coconut low glycemic honey and locally sourced rose petals and essential oils are just some of the elements that elevate her truffle bars. 

Honey Mama’s might be located in Portland, but her chocolate bars are loved nationwide. Each bar is packaged individually or as a 12-count box. Christy and her team have won several awards for their work and products, and after eight years of business it’s safe to say they have eco-decadence down to a tee. 

Julie Sullivan and Carolyn Cesario, Ground Up (Portland)

photo of Ground Up owner
Ground Up co-owner, Julie Sullivan (R) and team member (L). Image. Courtesy Ground Up Nut Butters

After meeting in 2016, the Ground Up co-owners realized that Carolyn Cesario’s experience with employment programs in Uganda for women in poverty and Julie Sullivan’s  passion for creating sugar-free nut butters might be healthy ingredients for a successful business. Chia seeds, nuts, cinnamon, coconut, and a variety of nuts (except peanuts) come together in a dizzying lineup of flavor packed spreads. 

By leveraging Carolyn’s recipes and Julie’s experience with training programs, Ground Up now provides Portland area womxn with an opportunity to gain employment skills and a lift in life. 

Not only have their nut butters found success in the marketplace, but Julie and Carolyn have built a local non-profit that gives womxn a place to regain their confidence in a community of people that believe womxn really do run the world. 

Ground Up nut butters are available wholesale and in retail stores nationwide, such as Whole Foods, Fred Meyer, and Market of Choice. 

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