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Good Karma: 5 Indie Makers Who Pay It Forward

Passion is contagious. Here at Mouth, we seek out independent makers whose passion bubbles over into everything they do. We taste it in their products, first and foremost, but also witness it in the way many give back to charities and causes deeply important to them. Here are five of our makers who create delectable treats and then pay it forward with a portion of their proceeds.  

Notah Begay III founded his bison meat company, KivaSun in Bend, Oregon, as a way to honor his Native American heritage and the animal at the center of it all. For centuries, bison has been valued in Native American cultures for its sustenance and its spiritual symbolism as a free creature in harmony with nature. Higher in protein and lower in fat than beef (plus devoid of growth hormones and antibiotics), bison is about as nutritious as meat comes. And health –  specifically children’s health – is also core to KivaSun’s mission. A portion of profits from each product sold helps to fund the NB3 Foundation, which Notah founded to battle obesity and Type 2 diabetes in Native American youth. Good for you, good for the community and good for the earth? That’s a win-win-win.

Creativity knows no one medium. Salt Lake, Utahns Mike and Vanessa Dobson saw popcorn as their blank canvas, launching Pop Art to the delight of snackers everywhere who want a little nori (...or White Cheddar Jalapeño....or White Pepper Parmesan) jazzing up their kernels. But what’s munching without a cause? The Dobsons echo The Killers’ sentiments (“I don’t shine if you don’t shine”), running a charity search campaign each year called “We POP when you POP.” Fans submit their picks for a charity doing amazing and necessary work and then who gets a portion of Pop Art’s proceeds for that entire year? The most “pop-ular,” of course.

If you can’t be sure that the pickles in your fridge have a purpose, then it might be time to upgrade to Pickled Pink’s. Jim Lawler and Charlie Stephenson in Atlanta, Georgia make Southern-inspired hand cut, hand packaged pickles so good (and different!) they tickle us pink. When we learned that a portion of their proceeds supports Hunter’s Hotline, a nonprofit organization that provides confidential hotlines to middle and high school students against bullying and drug and alcohol abuse, we began shouting about these pickles from our rooftops. Puckery and purposeful: pickles that answer to a higher calling indeed.

With a name like Naked Bacon, you’re gonna turn a few heads. John Kreilich still does bacon the way his great-grandfather August did when he immigrated from Germany to St. Louis, Missouri in 1861. He secret spices, dry cures and wood smokes it without the use of nitrates, nitrites, chemical solutions, phosphates, sugar and water filler. Totally naked bacon, if you will. (Oh, we will!). But Naked Bacon doesn’t stop at its amazing taste (and tantalizing name) – it donates a portion of proceeds from every sale to World Food Program USA which helps to feed 77 million people in 81 countries. That gets our attention most of all.

Whatever the reason, a lot of people are going gluten-free these days. And thanks to people like lawyer-turned-baker Stephanie Norton and her Bronx-based FreedGoodsCo, it’s never been a tastier time to take a break from gluten. Stephanie’s own wheat, gluten and yeast intolerance (and her subsequent battle with and triumph over infertility) inspired her not only to create chewy yet tender brownies and blondies with a mix of tapioca, garbanzo bean, fava bean and sorghum flours, but also to donate 5% of all profits to infertility support, education, awareness and advocacy. Gluten-free goes meaning-full.   

We’d say karma’s never tasted so good.

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