Love what you do. Do what you love. And help people in the process.
Last month, I got to participate in the #HelloSprouts bloggers retreat with my client Sprouts Farmers Market. It was a fun few days with top food bloggers and registered dietitians. I could hardly wait to share all that I learned about my favorite healthy grocery store… and life.
This retreat was different than the usual press trip. With only 10 attendees, we were able to really get to know each other and the team that hosted us. I met so many like-minded people and made new friends. Here we all are.. smiling ear to ear at the Sprouts headquarters.
From tours to reality TV-style challenges to trying lots of new foods and sitting down with top management for lunch, we had an action packed few days in Arizona. As I reflect on all that we experienced, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few words. But here are a few takeaways that I think we can all use as a reminder.ad: 6 Things We Can All Learn from @Sprouts - A recap of the #HelloSprouts retreat!Click To Tweet
1. It’s about PROGRESS not perfection.
I’d use this as my tagline if it hadn’t been all over the Internet when I first thought of it. This could really be my mantra though. No matter the target, we all have to start somewhere.
Sprouts’ goal is a lot like mine, to help people eat and be well – one morsel at a time. Healthy living is a journey and not something that happens over night. Every meal is indeed a choice. That’s why it’s been easy to partner with Sprouts to help spread the word about just how easy healthy eating and living can be. I love that you can get affordable produce and staples like oats and nuts plus more indulgent foods like pumpkin cookies.
Sprouts helps local food producers too. They have a team dedicated to finding the best local products to share with customers. It’s nice to know that there’s a place where small food makers have a chance. We visited one of those local producers, Danzeisen Dairy, where we got to see how the milk is processed and bottled in glass bottles. And it may have been the best milk I’ve ever tasted. Not kidding. I wish they delivered to Atlanta.
2. There’s always something new and an opportunity to do something different.
I get excited to go to the grocery store to see what’s new. (If that makes me wrong, I don’t want to be right.) As part of the weekend, we got to visit a tabletop show where over 500 food, health and beauty vendors showed up to share their newest products. It was heaven on earth for this food geek. Protein seemed to be a popular and common thread. From roasted chickpeas and bean crisps to tuna and all varieties of meat sticks, there was a protein option in every flavor for every body.
I got to meet many of the dedicated vendors that Sprouts partners with to bring us some of the best food in the business. That word “clean” was thrown around pretty often. And lately it’s gotten a bit of bad buzz. But the way it’s used here they just want to make the best food and products available. And that includes a number of health and beauty brands like my favorite Alba lip gloss.
3. Everybody matters.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own world. And believe me the finger is pointing right back at me on this one. On the last day of the retreat, we visited the Southwest Autism Research and Research Center where among other things, adults with autism can learn valuable work and life skills. At the center, we helped in the garden and packaged coffee beans for their social enterprise, Beneficial Beans. We also got an overview of Sprouts’ Real School Gardens program that I’m excited to see come to metro Atlanta soon.
Giving back is rewarding beyond measure. And I’m reminded and inspired to do more in my community because of it. Though I enjoyed all of the activities, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about what Sprouts does in the community.
During the retreat, we also got to have lunch with the chief operating and marketing officers. At the corporate office, workspaces are open which encourages collaboration and a sense of community and working together.
4. Healthy and delicious food can support a happy and healthy mind.
One of the speakers during a general session discussed the link between the microbiome and the mind (two topics you know I’m just a “little” obsessed about). He discussed including foods like blueberries, turmeric and even whole coffee in your diet to boost brain health and cognitive function. Entertaining and sharing healthy food with friends can also be a satisfying experience.
And there was no shortage of great food during our retreat. We laughed over Shabu Shabu at Sur La Table cooking school the second night.
We sampled new recipes with Sprouts’ executive chef. This Vegan Pakora Wrap is new to the Sprouts Market Corner – the grab and go meal cooler in the deli area of the store. The spinach wrap is filled with a chickpea and cauliflower blend, hummus, and a delicious tamarind chutney which gives a slight sweet flavor. Look for it, as well as, several new fall salads and sandwiches to show up in your store in the next couple weeks.
And on the last night, we enjoyed platters of some of the most amazing bruschetta at Postino in Scottsdale – a wine bar that serves amazing Bruschetta and small bites including the roasted vegetable platter shown above.
5. Caring for the environment is as much about people as it is the bottom line.
In a world of perfect Instagram feeds, it seems that slightly bruised or mishapen produce doesn’t have a place on the table. Ugly fruits and vegetables deserve love too. And we can all do a better job reducing food waste. I was excited to learn that Sprouts donated over 19 million pounds of food in 2016. I’ve sorted in the Atlanta Food Bank before and know first hand that the foods donated are not always the healthiest. It’s great to know that Sprouts is helping to fill the gap wherever possible and that perfectly edible fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be tossed are being put to good use.
The stores also work to use energy efficiently. They use cooling curtains to reduce energy use in the coolers up to 50% overnight, use overhead sensors to take advantage of sunlight and reduce indoor lighting and monitor products in the coolers to make sure they aren’t blocking airflow. I love that Sprouts trains their employees to pay attention to these little details. Yes. It saves money on their bottom line but that can translate into money in our wallet and a healthier environment!
6. Do what you love. Love what you do.
“Find a job you love” is cliche advice. I know. But that doesn’t take away from the truth. When you find something you believe in, work feels almost effortless. The photo above shows me doing one of my favorite things – sharing what I know with the world on camera. Stay tuned for the video this holiday season.
From the communications team to the partners and top management, I could tell that the folks at Sprouts love what they do. It comes through in everything they do. And excuse the sap but it reminds just how much I really love what I do. I made a very difficult decision many years ago to switch majors and become a dietitian. I didn’t know what that would bring. I only knew that it wasn’t a popular choice at the time but it satisfied my desire to teach, my love for food, and my fascination with science. I hope you’ve also found that special thing that lights you up and allows you to be your best self.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a new recipe celebrating fall tomorrow. But in the meantime, I want to know… what have you learned about life lately?