This New Piña Colada Granola Funds Urban Farming

Unilever serves up gourmet flavors with a side of urban agriculture funding.

By Ethan L. Johns
March 05, 2018

Image: Unilever

Hey, you there with the oily, overly-salted potato chip that you bought from the convenience store. What’s your snack doing for the community?

If your answer is “nothing,” or “I don’t know,” you might want to consider switching to a nice apple that your next-door neighbor grew herself. And if you don’t live next to an apple orchard, well, you might think about giving Growing Roots’ new treats a try.

Growing Roots is a new line from global behemoth Unilever—the corporation’s first foray into the United States snack market. The granola-style snacks are organic, vegan, gluten-free, and come in two different textures and four intense, sweet-and-savory flavor combinations, including Coconut Curry, Cocoa Chipotle, Maple Bourbon and Pineapple Coconut Rum. But flavor isn’t the only thing to love about these snacks; they also have a social conscience.

The snack brand is the edible incarnation of Unilever’s commitment to urban agriculture in America, which was begun with the Growing Roots project in New York City. Fifty percent of the profits from their sale will be used to support initiatives—like Green City Force and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture—that work to develop sustainable urban farming projects in communities that lack adequate access to fresh food.

“What’s so special about Growing Roots is that it started as a social mission that our employees were passionate about, borne from the belief that everyone should have access to affordable, nutritious food,” said Matthew McCarthy, Unilever North America's VP of Foods, said in a statement. “Seeing the transformational impact urban farms have in communities, we created a brand from the ground up to help fulfill and extend that mission.”

To give you a sense of these snacks—which will retail for $3.99 per 4-ounce pack—Genius Kitchen had the opportunity to taste Growing Roots’ full range, which is divided into “corn & seed clusters” (spherical puffed corn) and “coconut & seed bites” (basically just coconut granola). We did think that the bites were more like clusters and the clusters were more like bites, but we gave the snacks a pass there, since that’s just a technicality.

The Cocoa Chipotle clusters were deep and intense, with a smoked chocolate taste reminiscent of a mole sauce, while the Coconut Curry bites were intense in a brighter way, making us think more of a Thai rice dish than anything else. The Maple Bourbon clusters were lightly sweet and smelled like a nice stack of boozy flapjacks, but the flavor was milder than we expected. Far and away, the team favorites were the Pineapple Coconut Rum bites, which made us feel like we were sitting on a beach somewhere, sipping piña coladas and getting caught in the… you know.

So if you like tasty snacks that help city spaces into gardens, greens and healthy grub, keep an eye out for Growing Roots products. They’ll be available in Shoprite stores this month, and will be coming to Amazon and FreshDirect soon.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns