Recently, the zen of slow cooking®—which creates gourmet slow cooker spice blends—became a Certified B Corporation®, formalizing the company’s commitment to making the world a better place.
“We’re proud to become a B CorpTM,” says Meg Barnhart, who, along with partner Jane McKay, founded the company in 2012 in Lake Forest, Illinois. “One of our dreams was demonstrating how a for-profit business can provide the foundation for sustainable, meaningful and positive social impact.”
Certified B Corporations are for-profit companies that meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. They’re certified by B Lab, a nonprofit committed to “using business as a force for goodTM.”
In order to achieve B Corp certification, the company had to pass a rigorous assessment process, then amend its bylaws to reflect its dedication to making a positive impact.
There are currently more than 2,300 Certified B Corps spread across 50 countries. Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Etsy are among the best-known B Corps.
Jane McKay, the force behind many zen recipes, concurs with the B Corp analogy, “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.”
McKay and Barnhart formed their company in an effort to achieve two goals. One is to help busy families juggle schedules, commitments and homework, yet still serve delicious, healthy dinners with ease. The other is to provide employment opportunities for adults with cognitive disabilities—a cause dear to Barnhart because of her son’s learning challenges.
What started as a slow cooking recipe/lifestyle blog blossomed into a fast-growing business. Today, the zen of slow cooking® offers 10 spice blends, including Coq au Vin (their best-seller) and Sichuan (their newest offering, winner of the Specialty Food Associations 2017 sofiTM Award). They deliberately outsourced product packaging to Planet Access Company (PAC), a local packaging, shipping and warehousing company that employs adults with developmental disabilities.
In addition, a portion of every purchase goes to their Drishti Donation giving-back program, which provides Slow Cooker Community Boxes to group homes of adults with special needs. Each Community Box includes a slow cooker, spice blend sample packs and 30-minute phone consult on how to conduct a slow cooking class—giving those who rarely get to cook the experience of crafting a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Zen Blends are sold at specialty grocers like Whole Foods and Peapod Online (where they’re packaged in popular meal kits) and on Amazon.com and thezenofslowcooking.com.
“We built our company using the principles behind Conscious Capitalism and B Corp values,” says Barnhart. “Imagine what the corporate world could accomplish if every company used their business as a vehicle for positive change.”