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Saturday, February 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 6.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Om Boys create peanut butter for the 21st century with Yumbutter
Awesome sustenance for the earth
D'Amour, left, and Reif want to make food that's fun and fair, nutritious and delicious.
D'Amour, left, and Reif want to make food that's fun and fair, nutritious and delicious.
Credit:Chris Hynes

Jelly is the standard American pairing with peanut butter. Madison's Om Boys - Adrian Reif and Matt D'Amour - pair their peanut butter, Yumbutter, with other flavors, but maybe more importantly, with a side of idealism.

As you talk with Reif and D'Amour, the concept of "great food" is never far from the idea of "system change."

Reif's business card designates him as "Head Yumologist," while D'Amour is "Chief Wellness Carrier." They call their foods "potions" instead of products, "because there's more in this jar than just peanut butter," says D'Amour.

He doesn't just mean the (organic) dark chocolate that goes into the Dark Chocolate D'Lishe or the (locally raised and produced) bacon and (fair trade) bananas that make up the blend known as Ethical Elvis. This might sound like a heavy load to carry for a product - er, potion - best known as a breakfast topping for toast, but for these two, in that jar is a new way of running a business.

Along with the five kinds of Yumbutters, they also make four varieties of Food Your Body Likes sprouted cereals based on buckwheat groats and coupled with such ingredients as quinoa, amaranth, aronia berries, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, local raw honey and maple syrup. In late summer, they use local apples; in fall, butternut squash from Highland, Wis.; in winter, Wisconsin cranberries.

"One revolutionary thing that's been our core since the beginning is our responsibility to make the most nutritious food for the customer," Reif says. "It's not a right to be a food manufacturer; it's a privilege. We have to look out for other people, and we don't want to give them unhealthy foods." He'd like to help people "take back control of what they're eating."

Reif started his college career in pre-med at Vanderbilt, until he hit organic chemistry. He ended up majoring in psychology; ultimately he decided he wanted to combine entrepreneurship with sustainability and his sense of compassion.

D'Amour grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. "I knew I would be my own boss, and try to help people through business," he says. He majored in human ecology and business at UW-Madison.

D'Amour started Food Your Body Likes in 2010, working out of the Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point. Reif started selling Yumbutter in 2010, at first using the kitchen at Middleton's Bloom Bake Shop on the days it was closed and vending at farmers' markets. The two met, discovered a kindred ideology, and decided to join forces, adopting the Om Boys moniker (rhymes with "home boys"). They moved into space at the Main Street Industries incubator in June 2011.

D'Amour says there's no such thing as a typical week. They make small batches of their foods two to three days a week, including labeling and jarring. They go out to stores for events at least once a week. They go on the road to Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago for demos as well, because they feel it's important that they meet their customers, and that the people who are eating their food see who makes it, says D'Amour. "It humanizes the interaction."

The space at Main Street Industries is a spare two rooms, with a warehouse/office room and the kitchen. There's not a lot of complicated machinery. There's something called a vertical cutter mixer, which Reif describes as "a souped-up food processor." There are chest freezers. And they have a 14-tray dehydrator. They make 30 to 40 pounds at a time - small batch indeed.

But they are most passionate about their "Buy One, Feed One" program. For every unit of their food that's sold, they purchase an RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food, developed to provide calories and nutrients for those suffering from malnutrition). They also visit middle schools, stressing the importance of eating healthy foods.

The Om Boys continue to develop recipes for their foods, encouraging customers to use Yumbutter as more than just filling for a sandwich. Have fun, be creative, is the message. They're developing new potions, not ready to be unveiled just yet. But both Reif and D'Amour affirm that there are exciting new foods coming your way.

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