African-American artisanal foods: Black fine food producers mix quality, community and commerce

Jerri Graham, creator of the Westport, Connecticut-based premium snack bar company Nothin’ But comes from a publishing background. She never intended to bake for a living. However, the notion of finding the perfect granola bar motivated her. “I wanted to create something that I wanted,” Graham told theGrio.

What she wanted was something that was not only delicious, but also healthy, full of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. “I also set out to establish a brand that could be international, with multiple products all based around organic oats. Right now I’ve developed 72 different recipes for bars, 20 specifically for granola, and another 30 products all in the same arena. I love it and get a creative rush whenever I think of something new.” Ginger Lemon Cashew, Chocolate Coconut Almond, Cherry Cranberry Almond, and Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate are some of her delicious concoctions.

Jerri may have pursued her passion by entering the artisanal food business, but found that it took more than a love of good food to master this sector. “There are so many new products on the market that the competition is very fierce,” she said.

However, this did not dissuade her. By deciding to look honestly at what she was doing, “focusing on creating a quality product and knowing their market,” she and her partner were able to find their “keys to success.” She considers herself lucky because she has a business cohort who works hard to get the products out there so she can focus on creating new things.

“Seeing someone taste the bars or granola for the first time can’t be beat. These recipes were at one time in my head and now they are being enjoyed by people all over the area. Sure, there are times when it would be a lot easier and less stressful to have a regular job, but nothing I’ve done in the past compares to this level of excitement.”

For an extensive list of where to purchase Nothin’ But foods, go to their web site. Plus, you can follow the firm on Facebook and Twitter. But if you think this artisanal food trend has skipped over the southern region, think again. You are about to meet two siblings that are creating a force for change in Atlanta, on a mission to bring quality foods to black communities.