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Notre Dame alum leads startup aimed at offering sustainable food options

After working on agricultural policy issues for then-U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and in the agricultural industry in Zimbabwe, Sara Andrews realized there were more sustainable ways to produce food.

As a result, Andrews — who graduated from Notre Dame in 2001 — founded Bumbleroot, a company that bridges the gap in the food industry between farmers and consumers by using regenerative agricultural practices to help consumers eat healthier while fighting climate change. 

Andrews said she started Bumbleroot because there were not markets in the U.S. for regenerative products.

“I created Bumbleroot as a brand that would rethink the food system and feature regenerative ingredients,” she said.

Her goal was to create a company that provides nutrient-rich food with full supply chain transparency for consumers and producers.  

Bumbleroot uses methods that work with nature rather than against it, Andrews explained.

“Regenerative methods allow us to use good soil methods, do good things for the community and the environment and also create more nutrient-dense food,” she said.

Regenerative methods are processes that include holistic grazing, using cover crops and practices that mimic nature to create better soil health. These types of methods are replacements for harmful practices like the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and factory farming, Andrews said.

Some benefits of regenerative agriculture practices are that “we have more diversity, better soil health and sequester more carbon, which could be a solution to mitigate climate change,” Andrews said.

Approaching food systems in this way helps to create a sense of reciprocity between the environment, agricultural producers and consumers, she said.

“We have more value for our agricultural producers [and] they’re more profitable because they’re spending less money on chemicals and other inputs,” she said of the impact of regenerative practices.

Bumbleroot supports consumers with active lifestyles, Andrews said.

“There is data that shows that food grown with regenerative practices is more nutrient dense than organic or conventional food,” she said.

Bumbleroot’s most popular product is a hydration drink mix that features coconut water sustainably sourced from India and organic baobab from Zimbabwe. Andrews said she thinks this is the healthiest hydration drink because it has natural electrolytes and nutrients.

“It is a better way to hydrate for you and the planet,” she said.

Future products will include an alternative coffee drink and regenerative meat snacks, both of which will be sustainably sourced and produced with regenerative processes. 

Andrews said most of Bumbleroot’s customers are women, but they hope to expand to other markets going forward. 

Andrews said her education at Notre Dame helped her solidify her beliefs about sustainability and environmental responsibility. She said values she adopted at Notre Dame are reflected in Bumbleroot, such as celebrating practices that are best for the planet. 

Bumbleroot’s mission is to “connect the dots between showing that food grown with regenerative methods is more nutrient-dense and that these practices can be a solution to many issues we have in society, from climate change to health, to environmental issues,” Andrews said. “We hope to create the ecosystems that we need [for] more resilient food systems.”

Contact Caroline Collins at ccolli23@nd.edu