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noteworthy

A DESTINED HARVEST
BY MARY WARNER

12 EDIBLE METRO & MOUNTAINS | FALL 2009 WWW.EDIBLEMETROMOUNTAINS.COM
“We play an important role in the whole food movement
by helping farmers and producers focus on doing their job,
which is creating LASH products”

M
ost hospitals and school cafeterias have at least one communities in Southern hamlets where organic interest was just
thing in common besides fluorescent lights: They starting to sprout, and within the halls of socially conscious institu-
don’t serve locally produced, organic food. While tions. Destiny introduced him to these places.
more than a few people have been lamenting the
demise of the school lunch and questioning the health benefits of hos- “We play an important role in the whole food movement by helping
pital pudding, there’s one Georgia-based company trying to change farmers and producers focus on doing their job, which is creating
the way we eat in these places. In fact, Destiny Organics is well on LASH products,” says Dee Dee Digby, the owner of Destiny Or-
their way. ganics. They help farmers and producers with sales, marketing and
distribution, while delivering quality products to retailers, co-ops,
Destiny Organics formed eight years ago as a produce wholesaler buying clubs, resorts, restaurants and institutions. Yet Destiny’s role
known as Destiny Produce. Back then, their trucks ran on diesel and hasn’t always been as encompassing as it is now. Digby admits that she
they sold conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. When the knew little about sustainability when she began her company. After a
demand for organics grew, they shed convention for a local, sus- few years in the field, however, she sounds like an expert. Today, one
tainable inventory. Today, Destiny Organics is Georgia’s only certified of the most important things she does is educate prospective suppliers
organic food distributor; and in addition to produce, they offer dairy, about the benefits of sustainable and humane farming.
meat, artisanal products and dry goods produced or grown in Georgia.
Their social responsibility doesn’t end with their products. Destiny’s “I have enormous respect for the knowledge Dee Dee has of the in-
fleet of delivery trucks now run on bio-diesel, and the company re- dustry and equal respect for her passion. Destiny Organics seems ab-
cycles 95 percent of everything that comes through their door. solutely focused on getting the highest quality, making it their mission
to procure the best for their customers,” says Harris.
“They have boldly stepped out to do what other people have talked
about doing,” says Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures, a local, Cheryl Wilson feels the same. A native of Columbus, Georgia, with a
artisan, sustainable, humane (LASH) cattle farm in Bluffton, Georgia. background in community-supported agriculture subscription services
Harris is a fifth-generation cattleman whose family operates Georgia’s (CSAs), Wilson has been with Destiny since 2008. To her, the
largest grass-fed beef producer. Before Harris broke ground in 2007 to company was making a greater impact on the community by “dissemi-
Photo by Bill Klouda

build a $2.2 million processing plant on his property (to control the nating organics” via their distribution plans. After a few conversations
quality of his meat), White Oak Pastures’ beef was available at Publix with Digby, she was hired to help with sales and cultivate new clients.
and Whole Foods Markets. Still, Harris wanted to reach untapped
Photos Courtesy of Destiny Organics

ISSUE 3 EDIBLE METRO & MOUNTAINS | FALL 2009 13
Wilson is the model spokesperson, speaking energetically about have adopted an organic and sustainable lifestyle, Pollan’s appearance
Destiny’s latest news: They are the focus of a study at the University of signifies a change in thinking on a national level about the correlation
California-Santa Cruz on innovative business models, and they’ve between food consumption and obesity. In the past, junk food like
formed an alliance with Emory University, an institution that has set a chips and sodas conveyed pleasure or fun, while healthy food choices
goal of ensuring that 75 percent of food served on campus will come were for “nuts”—not so any more. Pollan spelled out that changing
from local or sustainable sources by 2015. the way we consume will take time, education and a return to our
roots. It will also take companies like Destiny Organics to provide lo-
“The students at universities are driving the demand for organic gistical support to disseminate foods produced by mid-sized farmers.
food,” says Wilson. The problem is that many institutional food
service departments use contract-dining services that provide both Once an agrarian society, the South is a natural habitat for a regional
food and nonfood items. It’s a challenge to keep prices low and distributor like Destiny Organics to prosper. According to Cheryl
provide a variety of products. To serve customers on an institutional Wilson, when Dr. Joan Dye Gussow, a leading organics supporter and
level, Destiny will have to expand their product line while continuing writer, spoke at the Georgia Organics conference in 2003, she read
to educate the public about the benefits of sustainable living. aloud a list of agricultural products from an early 20th century
farmers’ almanac. The list was extensive. Gussow was making the
Hospitals will be on board soon, although their problem is not all point that Georgia has the potential to expand its agricultural com-
cost. For many, it’s that they simply don’t have a kitchen. Since staff is modities and return to a bountiful harvest. Destiny Organics is
also minimal, items that pass through the door and out to patients’ bringing us one step closer. e MM
bed tables are often pre-made. Few of us plan on being in the hospital,
so we have little say in what our options are to eat. Yet, in a place that
puts a premium on health and recovery, food should reign supreme.
Mary Warner is a writer living in Atlanta. She can be reached at
The problem runs deeper. Earlier this year, the CDC invited Michael maryhelene@gmail.com.
Pollan to its headquarters in Atlanta to address the obesity epidemic.
While the crux of the epidemic may seem obvious to those of us who

14 EDIBLE METRO & MOUNTAINS | FALL 2009 WWW.EDIBLEMETROMOUNTAINS.COM