CALDWELL, Idaho — Spending the last several years making a name for Nature’s Indulgence in the handcrafted, small-batch granola and oat business suits Doug Sanders, who has spent his life growing, handling and preparing food.
He has customers and suppliers around Idaho.
“I love supporting Idaho,” said Sanders, whose parents grew up in fruit-growing families in the state’s southwestern region. “We grow so much. We export a lot. I would like to see things we grow in Idaho be sold in Idaho.”
Nature’s Indulgence buys all of its grains in-state. Sanders requires at least half of everything he sells to be produced in Idaho, well above a prominent local-food organization’s minimum. He does not use ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms.
“It’s a positive when an Idaho company uses another Idaho company’s product with a different perspective and in a different way,” said Megan Harper, commerce development analyst at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
The ISDA-administered Idaho Preferred program, which promotes Idaho food and includes Nature’s Indulgence among members, requires food and beverage processors to use at least 20 percent Idaho-grown content by weight.
Suppliers to Caldwell, Idaho-based Nature’s Indulgence include Highland Milling — which Doug’s father, Dave Sanders, owns in Bancroft, in southeast Idaho — The Teff Co. and Steele Apiaries in the Boise area.
A local oatmeal company and the Boise-based Albertsons grocery chain are among his many customers.
“He is unusual in that he was in the wholesale business first, and then segued to also be in retail,” said Jim Toomey, who directs the University of Idaho Agribusiness Incubator, where Nature’s Indulgence is based. “Usually it’s the other way around, if people get that far.”
Sanders, 29, graduated from the Northwest Culinary Institute in Vancouver, Wash. In 2012 he acquired Nature’s Indulgence, which family friends had started in their Utah home in about 2001. He moved it to Caldwell four years ago. Nature’s Indulgence now occupies 3,400 square feet.
“I have been designing the space all along to meet our needs and our customers’ needs,” Sanders said.
He said he employs part-time help now, and plans to add one or two full-time staffers over the next year “when I can pay them enough.”
Sanders said he aims to pay 1.5 times minimum wage, “realizing from experience that this type of work is physically demanding.” Idaho’s minimum hourly wage is the federal minimum, $7.25.