Jennifer Moore believes raw food isn’t just healthy and delicious — it’s also beautiful.
Take the cacao pod, for example. “[Raw cacao] is the most beautiful thing — with purples, oranges, reds, yellows,” the Bend nutritionist-turned-entrepreneur says. An almond tree, meanwhile, is “full of furry, fluffy green pods. You break it open and there are almonds in there.”
Moore, her husband Tim and their business partner Nik Rueth started making wholesome treats with these simple ingredients in 2000. Today, their homegrown company, Jem Nut Butters, is one of dozens of Oregon artisan companies gaining esteem not just regionally but nationally.
In January 2017, one of Jem’s nut butters, Cinnamon Maca Almond Butter, was named one of the winners of the 7th annual Good Food Awards. The distinction is given to artisan products deemed to be the most tasty, authentic and sustainably produced, out of thousands of food and drink nominations that were vetted and blind taste-tested.
Stone-ground and sprouted at their recently expanded facility in Bend, Jem produces jars of silky-smooth, nutty superfood made with a handful of certified organic ingredients — each with a distinct purpose.
The organic red maca is an ancient root that’s been used for nourishment and healing in the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru. It’s been used to increase stamina, boost libido and fight fatigue. Cinnamon is known to regulate blood sugar levels; Jem uses Eugene-based Red Ape Cinnamon, which donates a portion of their proceeds to organizations that protect orangutans and their habitat. The coconut sugar is a low-glycemic sweetener, and raw almonds from Spain are a source healthy fats and nutrients as well as aid in lowering blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“Each flavor is developed for function,” says Moore, who’s lived in Bend for 24 years while she and her husband have raised three children, now in their 20s. “It’s a way to remind everybody that food is the best medicine, and it always has been.”
All of Jem’s products are certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan. The three other varieties — cashew cardamom, hazelnut raw cacao and superberry almond butter — are also luscious on toast, with fruit, in smoothies or by the spoonful. They’re always working on new flavors.
Oregon is an established hub of creative culinary talent, but Moore believes there’s a special breed of entrepreneurs in Bend, many of whom have come to lead more meaningful lives and find respite in the outdoors. “They’re people that have the philosophy of giving to the goodness of the planet, and profit is the consequence of that,” she notes. “There’s not one day I don’t marvel at where I’m at.”
To taste Jem Nut Butters where they’re made, visit their tasting room (where Moore and her husband live upstairs), open 1-6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays in Bend’s Northwest Crossing neighborhood.
Products from nearly two dozen other Oregon companies were honored by the 2017 Good Food Awards, with winners hailing from across the state. Most have tasting rooms or are stocked on specialty grocery shelves. Among them: Olympia Provisions and Tails and Trotters from Portland; Rogue Ales & Spirits from Newport; Briar Rose Creamery from Dundee; Old Blue Raw Honey from Philomath; and Noble Coffee Roasting from Ashland.