President of Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co.
B orn May 27, 1947, in Highland Park, MI; married Pattie; children: four. Education: Attended Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, bachelor’s degree in English, 1970.
Addresses: Contact—Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., Inc., 804 Estates Dr., Ste. 200, Aptos, CA 95003; PO Box 1385, Soquel, CA 95073. Home—Michigan. Web site—http://www.bluehorizonseafood.com
C o-founder, principal, Eden Foods, 1968early 1980s; founding director, executive vice president and vice president of sales and marketing, American Soy Products, Inc., 1985-c. 2003; president, Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., 2005—.
A pioneer of the natural-foods industry, Tim Redmond has spent 40 years working to bring organic, minimally processed foods to the American dinner table. In the late 1960s, Redmond helped found a natural-foods coop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which morphed into Eden Foods, now a major U.S. organic-foods producer. Redmond also played a leading role in the formation of American Soy Products, which built the first soymilk factory in the United States. In 2005, he co-founded Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., with the intent of providing sustainable, wild-caught, and organically farmed seafood to the everyday consumer.
Redmond was born on May 27, 1947, at Michigan’s Highland Park General Hospital, the same facility where his grandfather worked as a surgeon. He spent his childhood not far from there, in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, growing up in a middle-class family with parents who were members of the country club. In a telephone interview with Newsmakers, Redmond described himself as a “typical high school goofball” who participated in a lot of sports. Redmond began college at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where he played on the golf team. In 1967, his junior year, he transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
An English major, Redmond wrote a lot of poetry during this time, grew his hair long, and explored different philosophies. He says he began transition-ing from a kid filled with indifference to a young man who was becoming more engaged and serious about life. This was during the 1960s, a time when the hippie counterculture was sweeping college campuses. Redmond started living a more natural lifestyle, he told Newsmakers, and moved away from “eating Twinkies and hot dogs and soda pop and thinking that was a good way to fuel your engine.”
In 1968, Redmond formed a coop with a group of like-minded folks who were looking to eat more organic, less-processed foods. The coop members pooled their money and gave it to a middleman who used it to procure bags of brown rice, miso, and whole wheatberries from a natural-foods store in New York. They called their coop Eden, which stands for Environmental Defense Energy Network. At first, members simply got food for themselves, but in a short amount of time, the coop became more formalized—members rented an apartment above a bicycle shop on East William Street in Ann Arbor, installed a stone grinder and began an operation of bagging up flour, dried fruit, grains, nuts, and beans under their own label and putting them on the shelf to sell. Soon, Eden was ordering whole truckloads of natural foods to meet the demand. At times, their order included up to 2,000 pounds of brown rice, which Redmond and his friends had to lug upstairs to the store.
In 1970, Redmond earned his English degree. “I thought I might want to teach or write,” he told Newsmakers, “but I got more interested in food and food production.” After college, Redmond moved to Boston to work in a macrobiotic restaurant, intending to return to Ann Arbor and open his own such eatery. He gave up on that idea, however, and in late 1970, he formed a 50-50 partnership with Bill Bolduc to create Eden Foods Inc. They took out a bank loan and built a larger store on State Street in Ann Arbor.
Over the next decade, Redmond helped oversee Eden’s transformation from a simple retail store into a regional natural-foods distributor with manufacturing, importing, and retailing arms. By the mid1970s, Eden products could be found at stores and coops throughout the Midwest. Eden continued to grow, sourcing its own organic farmers and manufacturing more and more of its own products, relying less and less on third-party brands. Redmond said the company was built on the backs of people who worked hard because they had a passionate desire to change the quality of the nation’s food supply. “When we first started, we had a lot of people with advanced degrees from college out in the warehouse pulling products just because they believed in the mission we had. The company grew out of positive energy. We worked our butts off, but nobody minded much,” he told Newsmakers.
Redmond left Eden Foods in the early 1980s but continued to run the local Eden grocery and deli in downtown Ann Arbor. In 1985, he became the founding director of a new food company, American Soy Products, Inc., which manufactured soymilk for Eden Foods under the label Edensoy. In 1986, American Soy Products opened the first U.S.based soymilk plant and became the first company to market soymilk to supermarkets. As executive vice president and vice president of sales and marketing, this work fell to Redmond, who said it was a hard sell at first, trying to get retailers to see soy as a human food and not just an animal food. Eventually, the lactose-free, low-sodium, high-protein drink began to sell, with Edensoy becoming the market leader.
Along with Ron Roller, president of American Soy Products, Redmond helped formulate another natural-foods beverage—Vruit. Aimed at health-conscious consumers, the non-sugared, non-carbonated, non-caffeinated beverage hit the market in 1995 and is still nationally distributed. As the name suggests, the product is a blend of fruit and vegetable juices. The popular orange-veggie blend includes apple, orange, peach, carrot, cucumber, celery, and spinach juice. “It’s not a substitute for fresh vegetables and fruit,” Redmond told the Detroit Free Press’ Rachel Konrad shortly after the product arrived on the market. “But it’s better than nothing. And popping a straw into a box is more convenient than taking time to peel, wash, and cook.” Roller and Redmond also created the Soy Fusion drink.
Around 2003, Redmond left American Soy Products and became a food industry consultant. He worked with some organic shrimp farmers in Ecuador, which piqued his interest in the seafood industry. In 2005, Redmond joined forces with John Battendieri to found Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., which offers consumers a broad range of seafoods, some sustainably harvested and others organically farmed. Besides supplying private label seafood, Blue Horizon rolled out its own brand of skillet meals, as well as a frozen line of Last Minute Chef microwaveable entrees and appetizers.
Redmond sees a bright future for Blue Horizon because consumers, recognizing the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, are adding sea protein to their diets at an increasing rate. The world’s fish supply cannot sustainably handle the demand, Redmond says, noting that 55 percent of the shrimp consumed today comes from on-shore aquaculture operations. Blue Horizon relies on aquaculture, Redmond told News-makers, but sources only from clean operations where no synthetic chemicals are used and where workers are treated fairly and given health insurance.
Blue Horizon uses only farmers who protect the aquatic ecosystems where they farm. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to adopt organic standards for aquaculture, Blue Horizon relies on farms that comply with European standards and is working to help formulate U.S. rules. As with land-based agriculture, the difference comes down to chemicals. For instance, an organic aquaculture farm may have 10,000 shrimp in a ten-acre pond, whereas a conventional aquaculture farm may place 100,000 shrimp in the same space. “The shrimp get stressed out,” Redmond told Newsmakers, requiring antibiotics to stay alive. These shrimp also get hormones to grow faster and preservatives after harvesting so they retain their water and remain plumper. “With organic farming, it’s an environmental positive out and out,” Redmond told Newsmakers. “It keeps the water cleaner, keeps the food cleaner.”
Along with his wife, Pattie, Redmond raised four eco-conscious kids in a passive-solar house, growing much of their food in their own organic garden. Redmond’s wife was involved with Eden in the early days, keeping books and working at the State Street store. In the early 1970s, she was a grower and wholesaler of sprouts, the first in Ann Arbor. Most of all, Redmond says, she has been his best advisor and weathervane. The Redmond children have taken their parents’ healthy living message to heart: Redmond’s youngest son works for Whole Foods, his youngest daughter does sustainable design projects, and his oldest daughter, Sara Snow, hosts Living Fresh on the Discovery Home Channel, a show aimed at providing viewers with the tools for living healthier.
“My dad could have done a great many things when he left college, a young idealistic hippie with a college education and a successful father to help tow him along,” Snow wrote on her Discovery Health blog. “But he didn’t do many things. He did one extremely important thing. He set out to help change America through the foods we eat. He grew up eating his share of white bread and canned vegetables and was frightened for the future if these were the foods that Americans would continue to consume. So, instead of wasting his time soapbox-ing or complaining, he did something about it.”
As for the future, Redmond told Newsmakers that he is “raring to go for another 40 years. I like working. Sixty is not old.” He wants to continue making a difference and hopes others see that they, too, can make a difference. “What you do every day matters—what you buy, how you buy things, where you buy them, they matter. They are as much a vote as pulling the lever at the polling booth.”
Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1996, p. 8F.
Detroit News, May 25, 1999, p. 2B.
Indianapolis Business Journal, September 11, 2006, p. 1.
PR Newswire, January 31, 2007; March 30, 2007.
“About Blue Horizon Seafood,” Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., http://www.bluehorizon-seafood.com/about.html (August 3, 2007).
“A Little About Me and Where I Come From,” Sara Snow’s Get Fresh Blog, http://discovery.blogs.com/snow/2007/07/a-little-abou-1.html (August 3, 2007).
“Unified Western Grocers and Nature’s Best ‘Catch’ Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Products for Expanded Distribution,” Forbes,http://www.forbes.com (August 3, 2007).
Personal interview with Tim Redmond, August 24, 2007.