Cool to be kind

Meg Rodgers is a self-proclaimed “whole food junkie” who exudes kindness in everything she does. It’s not only in the name of her baking company, Kind Whole Foods, but in the kindness she extends to the planet, via the mouth-watering, cruelty-free delicacies she so passionately creates as part of her self-started business.

“I think we can all agree that our world is hungry for kindness – from the smallest of acts to powerful sociological ideas – everything is in need of more kindness,” Rodgers says. She is speaking to the fact that her values are directly reflected in all aspects of her budding business.

Rodgers, 26, was born and raised in Whitehorse. She has made it her mission to make food that is kind in all aspects: for the body, for the planet, for the animals and for the soul. That’s why all the raw and baked products she offers – from red velvet berry “cheezecake” to “better than wagon wheels” to salted coconut caramel brownies – are plant based, vegan and naturally gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.

If any of this foodie terminology is foreign to you, no need to fear. Rodgers is all about keeping things simple and whole, she just wants to make sure her food satisfies all diets and allergy needs, so that everybody can enjoy delicious food guilt-free, and that nobody feels left out.

Though Kind Whole Foods has only been registered as a business for a few months, the idea was planted many years ago.

“Growing up, my family always sat down and had dinner together,” Rodgers says, laughing as she describes her parents waiting until after her evening competitive gymnast practice to eat dinner.

“Eating healthy and enjoying food together instilled in me from a young age to eat for health.”

As a child, Rodgers was unable to consume dairy, and in 2009, she was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to intestinal damage.

There may be plenty of gluten free options lining grocery store shelves and bakeries these days, but this wasn’t the case when Rodgers was young. Luckily, her family jumped on board immediately – her dad even started baking gluten free goodies she could enjoy.

Instead of succumbing to frustration and celiac woes, Rodger’s diagnosis encouraged her to get creative in the kitchen.

“(It) led me on quite the food journey to a connection with food that goes far beyond the notion of hunger being satisfied,” Rodgers says.

It also made it made her realize that the food she ate had a powerful effect on her health, and could be the difference between health and disease.

“In my eyes, it’s just common sense: fuel your body with real, minimally processed, plant-based, natural foods and your body will do nothing but thank you.”

While Rodgers is predominantly vegan, her philosophy isn’t about labels. She believes that you don’t have to be an extremist to have a positive impact. Sure, terms like “vegan” and “gluten-free” might scare some people off she admits, and initially she entertained concerns about whether the Yukon could accommodate such a niche business. Ultimately, she has decided to fully embrace her whole foods approach, which focuses on being organic, sustainable, local and of course, delicious and healthy.

“I think there’s always a place for it and people will appreciate the passion behind it,” Rodgers says. Her Yukon customers seem to agree.

“I made some of my wagon wheels and brought them to work. One of my coworkers tried them and couldn’t believe they were vegan,” Rodgers says.

After completing a business degree, Rodgers left Canada for a six-month backpacking trip to India and other parts of Asia. Traveling helped her satisfy her thirst for adventure, and it made her realize that she wanted to find a way to do what she loves for a living.

When she returned from her adventures abroad, she started baking and supplying desserts to The Cork and Bull and The Birch and Bear. Though she didn’t get to see the satisfied reviews of her chocolate quinoa cake indulging customers, baking for restaurants sparked the idea that her love of baking could be more than just a hobby.

In 2015, Rodgers ventured further by selling her sweet treats at the Fireweed Community Market, where she got to see feedback and reviews to Kind Whole Foods firsthand. As options that are both gluten and dairy free are few and far between, she says locals were thrilled to see products like this.

“There is nothing better than the community we have here in the Yukon,” she says. “Having a reason to be out and part of it is what I really thrive on.”

Though Rodgers currently works a full-time job, she says it motivates her to continue feeding her personal passions on her own time. When off the clock, she can be found in her kitchen, armed with her Vitamix and food processor, conjuring new plant-based creations, responding to online orders, designing community workshops, or doing marketing for her business. Even with enough orders to keep her busy most nights of the week, Rodger’s venture is a one-woman show.

“Whether baking or selling, I’m in the kitchen every day. It’s what I love to do.”

For now, Rodgers is content fulfilling orders in her small commercial kitchen, but expansion is her dream for Kind Whole Foods. She envisions a storefront or café with a nutritious breakfast and lunch menu.

“Eat what makes you happy and makes your body feel good. Eating local and organic is good for you, and for the environment.

“One treat at a time, I’ll convert you,” Rodgers says with a smile.

Meg Rodgers’ treats can be ordered through her website, her Kind Whole Foods Facebook page or by email at [email protected]

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