Interview with Jesse Schwartz, Founder of Living Tree Community Foods

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself? How did you get into the business?
Jesse Schwartz: In 1979, I started an heirloom tree nursery with my colleague John Kozak in Marin County. Kozak was a biodynamic farming and gardening teacher and I had just transitioned from teaching economics at San Diego State University. We worked to propagate antique apples trees throughout California. Through our work with farmers in California, I came to understand the challenges organic farmers face.

Sarah Velasco: What is your mission and philosophy?
Jesse Schwartz: Family farmers are the lifeblood of American agriculture and we feel privileged to support them. Quality, kindness and respect are the cornerstones on which Living Tree Community Foods is built.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about Living Tree Community Foods? How did that get started?
Jesse Schwartz: After 10 years in the nursery business, I started Living Tree Community Foods in 1989. At first it was a one-man operation; I managed the sales, marketing, accounts and shipping. Living Tree Community Foods has grown to include more than 20 employees making 60 branded food products.

Sarah Velasco: What type of products does Living Tree Community Foods have?
Jesse Schwartz: We specialize in alive, organic nut butters, seed butters, tahini, oils and chocolates. We also carry ingredients like nuts, flour, dried fruit and sweeteners as well as superfoods like maca and lucuma powders.

Sarah Velasco: What are your best sellers?
Jesse Schwartz: Alive, Organic Almond Butter and Tahini are our best sellers.

Sarah Velasco: What are benefits of organic foods?
Jesse Schwartz: When you purchase organic products, you can be assured that the food you’re eating has not been exposed to harmful chemicals and hormones. In buying certified organic, you are also supporting a method of food production to sustain our planet; organic farming methods conserve fossil fuel and avoid some of the consequences that befall conventional farming, like water pollution and oil erosion.

Sarah Velasco: Alive foods?
Jesse Schwartz: When food isn’t exposed to high heat, its nutrients, vitamins and enzymes are preserved resulting in increased health benefits. Living Tree Community Food’s production process is unlike any other. When making our nut butters, the nuts are sliced and then rested overnight to control the processing temperature.

Sarah Velasco: For those new to Living Tree Community Foods what three products would you recommend to them?
Jesse Schwartz: I would recommend starting with our Almond Butter, Tahini and a Chia Cherry Blueberry Bar.

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find your products?
Jesse Schwartz: We’re in natural food stores across the country as well as in Whole Foods. Living Tree Community Foods products can also be purchased through our website at http://www.LivingTreeCommunity.com. You can also keep up with Living Tree Community Foods on facebook, twitter and youtube.