The organic magic of Nuts To You nut butters.
Sam Abrams makes no apologies for being a Luddite. Blackberries and iPhones aren’t ingredients in the Abrams mix of delicious, nutritious organic nut butters. “I have no website. I have no email. I talk on the phone,” laughs Abrams, the president and founder of Nuts to You Nut Butter. “I mastered the fax about 12 years ago and that’s all I care about.” It’s somewhat fitting, then, that Nuts To You operates out of a 20,000 sq. ft. factory in the bucolic hamlet of Paris, Ontario (just outside of Brantford), the same town where Alexander Graham Bell received the first long-distance telephone call in 1876. A master technophile he is not, but in the two decades that he’s been manufacturing a line of extraordinarily popular nut butters, Abrams has mastered the formula for tasty (and healthy) snacking. It’s a given that Abrams likes his product. No, he loves it. “I eat peanut butter every day. I’m tasting at the plant and I’ll have an almond butter sandwich at night. I like putting a little in a milkshake, too.” He became interested in nut butters while working as a purchaser at the Ontario Natural Food Co-op. One of his clients owned a nut butter company in the U.S. and encouraged Abrams to start the same thing in Canada. Although he keeps fairly quiet when it comes to trumpeting the achievements of Nuts To You, Abrams admits the company he began with his wife, Kathleen, 20 years ago is still a cottage industry, though one that goes through millions of pounds of product annually. “If you compare us to Kraft we still are a cottage industry. Kraft probably produces more peanut butter in two days than we do in two years,” jokes Abrams, suggesting the Nuts To You enterprise is just a larger version of what he started out with, staying with a model that’s cost-effective and modest, employing a staff of under 10. “The basics are always the same: you have to roast something, grind it, and put it in the jar.” And that, if you’ll excuse me, is the nut of the business. Abrams sources nuts from all over the planet: almonds from California, Spain, and Italy; peanuts from New Mexico, Argentina, and Chile; macadamias from Guatemala and South Africa; sesames from Ethiopia and Venezuela; cashews from Mozambique, Brazil, and India. Pesticide-free and organic, they arrive at the Paris plant where they’re roasted, air cooled, then turned into a liquid paste before being put in glass jars, capped and shipped across Canada (and only Canada, at this point). Abrams refers to it as a simple business… and a healthy one — both in the bottom line and in terms of the nutritional value of the product. His nearly a dozen nut butters — including organic almond (easily their most popular), cashew and hazelnut, as well as the more unconventional tahini, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed — are additive-free and without additional salts or sugars. “The nuts and seeds themselves have a pretty good natural sweetness to them,” says Abrams. Nuts are a surprisingly good-for-you whole food, loaded with natural protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, minus saturated fats (the bad kind). In fact, nuts can lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 35 per cent. “I always say, how many thousands of years have we been eating nuts and berries? It’s always been a basic foodstuff. Why wouldn’t it be healthy?” Abrams and his wife are, in his words, “long-time organics” who have been supporting chemical-free farming for longer than most —they were the first nut butter manufacturer in the country with organic product. “It’s environmentally good for the soil and good for the farmers.” And for the body.