Aspen Times Weekly: Colorado Love
THE USA PRO CHALLENGE rolls into Aspen on Wednesday before returning east to Breckenridge on Thursday, and with it comes a groundswell of Colorado pride. (It also draws a peloton of naysayers, who find the road closures and mass invasion of spandex-clad wannabes more cause for complaining than celebration. But that’s not the point of this piece.)
As it turns out, August is the month of “Colorado Proud,” a statewide campaign started in 1999 that urges consumers to purchase and enjoy more local foods. (You’ll notice the Colorado Proud logo with purple mountains and yellow sunburst on packaging of some 2,000 products in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and garden centers.) This year the initiative includes a “Choose Colorado Produce Challenge,” a contest to “encourage consumers to think about where their produce comes from and understand the many ways they can support the local economy by buying and eating Colorado produce,” according to a Colorado Department of Agriculture press release.
As our ever-crowded Aspen Saturday Market proves: Aspenites are all about local fruits and vegetables. But as I learned while perusing my neighborhood food mart, Roxy’s Market in the Aspen Business Center, on my first day here a few years ago, there are gads of Colorado-made products on shelves, too. Stockist Courtney Lawler estimates that Roxy’s sells more than a hundred products —from soups, salad dressings, and salsas to cheeses, yogurt, honey, jam, and tea — all indicated with lime-green LOCAL labels. Recently I was happy to discover that my favorite protein-packed snack, Noosa “Australian” Yoghurt, is made over in Bellvue, outside of Fort Collins.
Clark’s Market (with locations in Aspen and Snowmass, plus Crested Butte, Norwood, Parachute, and Telluride), and even City Market in Aspen, flaunts a plethora of Colorado-made products. For us, the “Colorado Challenge” is cake.
What’s more, this ties into the fact that, according to the Colorado Tourism Office, “outdoor trips” is the leading category of marketable trips — those influenced by promotion —in Colorado, totaling 3.22 million trips in 2014. “Outdoor is at least responsible for 20 percent of trips to the state, which is huge,” notes CTO public relations contractor Carly Holbrook.
A few weeks ago, I embarked on a CTO-sponsored, two-night hut trip with a group of adventure journalists. As one of only a few local writers, I recall a memorable moment when our guides unveiled a giant brown paper bag brimming with adventure snacks, all made in Colorado.
A few of our favorite goodies in that bag:
—Skratch Labs natural hydration mixes and nutrition fruit drops, from the same research-based outfit that prepares wholesome meals and snacks for USA Pro Challenge athletes. (The company published “The Feed Zone Cookbook” with endurance athletes in mind; skratchlabs.com).
—Wacky Apple Organic Flat Fruit in Apple, Apple Cinnamon, and Wild Fruit: smashed and dehydrated fruit leathers made without any additives in Hotchkiss. (wackyapple.com)
—Honey Stinger bars, waffles, energy chews, and protein bars in multiple flavors including the new Caramel Waffle and Grapefruit Organic Energy Chews. (honeystinger.com)
—All-natural, non-GMO Larabars made in Denver, each containing fewer than 9 whole-food ingredients such as dates and nuts (larabar.com).
—Boulder-based Chocolove bars in 24 flavors. “Crisp, cool dry air is one of many secret ingredients that we have to make the best chocolate,” the company proclaims. (chocolove.com)
—Single-serve squeeze packs of Justin’s Nut Butter, born in Boulder in 2004 and taking the country by storm with seven flavors made with almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts. Justin’s organic peanut butter cups, made with high-quality, Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, are tops, too. (justins.com)
A scan of retail shelves in Aspen shows evidence of an entire Colorado cottage industry of granola and trail mix: Fiona’s Ginger-Walnut Granola; Bobo’s Oat Bars; Two Moms in the Raw gluten-free granola; Boulder Granola; Udi’s Granola; and Mrs. Barr’s Natural Foods, which churns out small batches of granola, granola bars, and trail mix from Basalt. Aspen Crunch, started by Aspen High School student Jack Paley and sold exclusively at the Aspen Saturday Market, creates granola in addition to popular dehydrated fruit snacks such as Pyramid Peak Pineapple and Rim Trail Recovery (a banana-strawberry blend).
On a savory note, Aspen Meat Works makes gourmet South African beef jerky (biltong) in flavors including black pepper coriander and peri-peri chili; Steve’s Meat Market has been processing wild game, including beef jerky, in Arvada since 1976. Snack Out Loud, another Denver-based company, recently unveiled “power puffs,” bean- and brown rice-based munchables marketed as a fiber-rich alternative to Cheetos, and crunchy bean snack bars. They’re a lot tastier than that sounds.
Wash down all of these snacks with a cascade of energy drinks and supplements, including Petey’s Bing, a caffeinated beverage made with Colorado cherry juice, plus flavors with blackberry and raspberry; Head On, a sports-hydration drink with antioxidants; and PepPod, a tablet containing 75 trace minerals, electrolytes, vitamins, and amino acids.
Heading out on an adventure this week? Be sure to stock up.