Q and A Series: People, Products and the Health of Our Planet – Interview with Courtland Jennings, Founder, President, COO of Pickled Planet

For the fifteenth interview, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Courtland Jennings, “man wearing many hats,” Founder, President, COO of Pickled Planet, makers of fermented products since 2002.

My Comments:

I find great products in many different ways. Sometimes in a store, on Amazon, in a newsletter, through a “Google” search, etc. I found Pickled Planet at a raw vegan cafe. I looked in their cooler and being a lover of fermented foods, I wrote down their website and checked it out. It took a while to actually get the product, but it was well worth the wait. All their products are made with organic ingredients, vegan and raw. Packed in glass jars with some distinct and unique flavors. They make sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables (“Dilly Beans” are high up on the list of favorites that I sampled).

You can check out my video review where I sample four of their products:
http://www.youtube.com/TheRawsomeVeganGal

From their website:

The Pickled Planet Story

Pickled Planet was started in 2002 by Courtlandt Jennings, in the small hamlet of Ashland, Oregon. With a desire to make the best fermented products available to the world, the offer of a free kitchen to start in, the savings in his bank account, and plenty of local produce, Courtlandt started making tasty sauerkraut.

Our Mission
Our mission is to produce and sell lacto-fermented foods with a brand that inspires humanity and raises awareness of their importance in out diet.

Our Vision
Our vision is to help return balance to our living systems through the process of our business. We do so by providing a living wage to employees; buying produce direct from farmers, providing lacto-ferments and a path towards health for our customers; diverting waste streams out of landfills, using 100% organic ingredients, Using post consumer paper in our office and labels, offering bulk options and re-claiming jars; and most of all by building our business model around what helps the world, even if it costs more.

Why Are We Here?
Pickled Planet is a response to our modern world and its “diet gone mad” on hyper processed and pasteurized food and hyper imbalanced wealth distribution. We are in pursuit of a healthy balance between our species and all our relations, our human ecosystems and natural ecosystems, and the cyclical capture of solar abundance and the technological maintenance of lifestyles.

The way we see it, if microscopic lactic acid bacteria can bridge the gap from atmosphere, to barrel, to our guts, then we can bridge the gap between the bottom line and the planetary brine.
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Question #1: Tell me briefly about yourself and why you decided to get involved in the “health” industry?

My name is Courtlandt Jennings, I grew up in New Jersey but left in 1992 for the wider skies of the west. Health and personal development has always been central to my existence. At age 7, I started speech therapy to over come a stutter which taught me self discipline. At age 9, I found I had mineral and sugar imbalance in my blood and had to go on a special no sugar, no white flour diet. No one else in my family did this, so as you can imagine it was a real chore. My dad would take me to the health foods store, which in the early 80’s NJ was a hole in the wall. These two things were formative in my development as a conscious eater and being into personal development and exposure to the nacent natural foods industry.

Something else that was big in my early days was the family tradition of back rubs. We would always give each other back rubs, and this stuck for me and when I was 20 I took my first massage therapy training. Through the 90s I contined training and practicing massage therapy and so that was and still is a big part of my life, though now its just a hobby. My grandpa was an MD, my mom was an OT and I was and MT, so there’s a tradition of health care in my family as well as my own inclinations.

Once I turned 30 I realized I wanted to do something bigger than traveling and just kicking along, so I turned my passion for fermentation into a business. It was a perfect fit because natural foods were continuing to grow, my products ensured healthy guts and I could grow the business basically guilt free because what I was making was so healthy.

Question #2: If you were stranded on a desert island and were allowed to take only 5 items with you (they can be food, books or specific products that are all health-related), what would they be and why?

A lareg multi-tool utility knife (includes a magnifying glass), a solar stove/oven, a fairly large container, preferably rust proof like stainless steel, a large hemp tarp, and rope of several gauges…
I choose these things because they are basic holy 5 for survival, with them you can de-salinate water, craft hunting implements, protect yourself from the sun, and make most anything else you’d need.

Question #3: What one message do you want to share with the people of this world that is crucial for their ultimate well-being and longevity?

You are so much more than your thoughts, your body, and your stories. Find what is alive in yourself that is observing those things, continue being interested but not identified, and allow love to expand where ever it can. We are light and it is light that we share…and a healthy gut is one of the best investments you can make in your body.

Questions #4: If someone could afford to purchase only one product at this moment to start their journey towards better health (food or health-related), what would you recommend and why?

That would depend greatly on the person and where they were at…though if they are not eating fermented vegetables I would say that is a great start.

Question #5: Tell me more about your business/company and/or products you offer to the public to help them achieve optimal health and well-being?

Pickled Planet makes a great line of organic fermented foods that support a healthy gut, and provide enzymatic infusions that help lessen the speed of aging. We ferment everything for at least 5 weeks to optimize the strength of the probiotics and the enzyme count. We’ve been in business since 2003, making us one of the original artisan fermented food companies out there. We strive to pay a living wage to those that earn it, and the long range plan for the company is to become a worker-owned business. We use only post consumer paper for all our documents, and our labels, which utilize a zero waste application system allowing customers to tear off the label and recycle it again. We sell our products in glass jars, ensuring the product is less oxidized and as fresh as possible when opened. In our local area, we allow people to return their jars to us for re-use, we even get some in the mail occasionally, and have a discount pricing program to help make it affordable to those that need it.

In short, we aim to be a healthy cell in the body of the foods system, helping to heal the commerce system one business at a time.

Question #6: What are your hopes/aspirations/dreams for the future health of the people and the planet?

I really truly hope that we can come together as a unified planetary culture of inter-dependent nations, and we all realize and embody the truth of our earth body and our deep connection to it. A full reversal on unnecessary industrialization, the financial system, the consolidation of power and a deepening of ecosystem awareness and communing with nature and her cycles while providing our needs from them. We have all the tools and technology for a graceful existence, free from poverty and pollution, we just need to throw the bullies out of the playground, or at least put them in their place.

Question #7: Who is your greatest hero and why?

My Dad was my greatest hero for so many reasons I could not name them all, but he taught me how to work hard and be diligent, how to weigh options and make proper decisions and that being successful is doing what you enjoy, and he loves to laugh.

To find out more about the products and to order, go to: http://www.pickledplanet.com

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