When I lived in South Florida last year, I took a lot of shit for calling it a culinary wasteland. (Read: three vegan restaurants within a 75-mile radius.) That said, what the Sunshine State lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality, and it’s definitely not short on cool vegan peeps out to make the world a better place. I met one of those peeps, Katherine Botelho, at the Great American Meatout, and she’s since created a line of organic, vegan, gluten-free and (in SoFlo) local nut butters that range from simple to specialty. We caught up recently, and Katherine told me why she’s nutty for nut butter.
Hi, Katherine. Long time no see! Thanks for taking the time to chat. What led you to start Ethical Bounty?
I was inspired to create a business that would offer a product that’s familiar to most people, but kick it up a notch and put a unique spin on it. As someone who’s interested in natural and organic foods, I focused on nut butters. They’re so nutritious, and a great source of protein and good fats. I looked at what was available and thought, Something’s missing. Most nut butters contain added salt and oil and are produced using nuts that aren’t organic. Many also contain preservatives to lengthen their shelf life, yet in the end, they taint the purity of the product. I wanted to create a raw, organic option, and in more interesting varieties. I was also excited to offer the butters to a large scope of people via the web.
You offer straight-up nut butters like Pecan and Brazil as well as specialty flavors like Cherry Pistachio and Vanilla Almond. How did you come up with the combinations?
I had to put my imagination to work for the specialty butters, though some of the flavors seemed obvious. I wanted to do something tropical, so I thought, What fruits and nuts come to mind when I think about Hawaii? Pineapples and macadamia nuts. So Pineapple Macadamia Butter was born. Then I thought of pecan pie and came up with Maple Pecan Butter. A craving for banana bread (which I went through an obsessive baking phase with) was re-created as Banana Walnut Butter. And I actually had a dream in which I thought I could smell cinnamon and raisins cooking together—enter Cinnamon Raisin Cashew Butter!
Your Cinnamon Raisin Cashew Butter is amazing! The smell alone made me salivate, and the taste was a perfect combination of the flavors—not too spicy, not too sweet. I can’t wait to try the others! The one nut you don’t serve up, though, is the peanut. How come?
I decided to leave out peanut butter because I wanted to offer an alternative to the usual generic nut butter that’s available on store shelves; peanut butter can be found anywhere. I also took into consideration the prevalence of peanut-related allergies and thought it would be best to avoid processing peanuts on my equipment. Sorry, peanut people!
Since you add no preservatives, how long do your butters last once they’ve been opened?
All of the nut butters are made with absolutely nothing added—no oil, salt or sugar. I’m dedicated to providing an entire line of vegan nut butters that contain no added ingredients or preservatives of any kind. People often email and ask for an ingredients list; it’s a very short list. If you order Almond Butter, there are almonds in it. Cashew Butter, cashews. I recommend refrigerating the butters because of the lack of preservatives, and they’ll last for six months and beyond that way. Though hopefully people will find them too irresistible to keep around that long!
5% of your sales benefit charities that help animals. How did you choose the charities, and why is this important to you?
Here I am getting up on my soap box! As a longtime vegetarian, since age 14, and a vegan for 8 years, I’m very in tune with animal issues. And I choose charities where I’m sure my donations will directly benefit the animals. I strongly believe that we, as the “superior species,” have an obligation to look out for those who are unable to speak for themselves, whether it’s the dog or cat running out of time in the shelter, the rabbit in the laboratory being subjected to skin tests for cosmetics, or the male calf who’s cast off as a useless by-product of the dairy industry. These are all living, feeling beings who deserve to live out their lives in peace, dignity and safety.
You also use eco-friendly boxes to ship your butters and encourage your customers to recycle. Why?
We need to stop the wastefulness in our society and recycle whenever possible. This planet isn’t going to put up with us for much longer if we don’t change our ways. I think most people are trying to green their lives as much as possible. This is just my small contribution to the bigger picture. If we love the planet, it will love us back.
Do you also accept empty jars and reuse them?
I absolutely accept empty jars! I’ll discount the next purchase to anyone who returns an empty glass jar, and I’ve already begun to do that for my local customers. My only concern with offering this to internet customers is that the cost of shipping the jars back would outweigh the discount that would be applied to their next purchase. So I encourage everyone to recycle locally.
Any new, exciting combinations on the horizon? And any plans to introduce chocolate or other desserty ingredients? We SuperVegans love our sweets!
I absolutely loooove chocolate! Who doesn’t? I’m looking into introducing a nut butter that incorporates organic raw cocoa nibs, and I’m always open to suggestions. Many customer suggestions have already been incorporated into the site, such as providing nutritional information for each product. I’ve also received lots of great feedback about my butters, which I truly appreciate!
I’m also planning a line of seed butters, such as sesame tahini, hemp seed, and sunflower. And with the holidays on the horizon, look for upcoming gift combo items, and more surprises to come!
Sounds delish, Katherine! I look forward to tasting more of your nutty creations. Bring on the Maple Pecan!
Ethical Bounty is located in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale, in South Florida. Local delivery is available, with nationwide shipments made via U.S. Postal Service. Ethical Bounty Nut Butters are available in smooth and crunchy, with prices starting at $4.99 for 6-ounce jars of simple butters, and 16-ounce jars of specialty butters in the $17.99 range.