The Sweet Spot

So who ever thought that fruit snacks and endangered species could be part of the same equation? That would be Ben Bartley, founder of Chum Bites.
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Chum Bites founder Ben Bartley mixes snacking with learning by featuring fun factoids about endangered species on product packages.

Chum Bites founder Ben Bartley mixes snacking with learning by featuring fun factoids about endangered species on product packages.

A passion for exploration and adventure took Ben Bartley on numerous dive trips, where he was thrilled to interact with that much-maligned apex predator, the magnificent shark. In the process, he became aware of the shark’s plight, how it mirrored the issues faced by other endangered creatures, and how it tied into the environmental deterioration of the planet.

Chum Gorilla Erewhon Venice

And it introduced him to WildAid, an effective nonprofit organization that supports species conservation through the lens of consumer persuasion and community support.

But it was the search for healthy fruit treats for his kids that led to this intriguing pairing of sharks and snacks. Finding that most of what was available was filled with added sugars, gums, and preservatives, Bartley thought he could do better for his family—and thus he embarked upon the adventure of creating Chum Bites.

“I realized that we can make a better clean-ingredient, dried fruit snack but engineered as candy. No added sugar, full of the natural goodness of vitamins and minerals, fiber and proteins, and soft-biting like gummy bears. Once this was captured, it was easy to fuse with my real passion for shark conservation.”

The Fruits of His Labor

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Capturing that clean, fruit-only process was no walk in the park, though. There’s a reason conventional snacks contain all those additives and ingredients—they make the manufacturing process much cheaper and faster. But Bartley was determined to stick to his guns and use nothing but whole fruit, and eventually Chum Bites emerged successfully (and deliciously).

And then came the sharks—and the elephants, polar bears, pangolins, rhinos, pandas, and more—profiled on Chum Bites packages, fusing snacking with learning. “We want to show how conservation, protecting wild animals in their natural habitat, stopping the illegal wildlife trade, and protecting the health of our oceans is so critical for the future of our own species,” says Bartley.

He also notes the timeliness of the message in this year of pandemic: “Look at what has happened around the world. We believe it all started with a human infected by an endangered species in a wildlife market. If that’s not enough of a warning, I don’t know what is.”

Last but not least, Chum Bites gives 15 percent of its profits directly to WildAid for programs that reduce global consumption of wildlife and increase local support for conservation efforts.

Bottom line for Ben Bartley? “Chum Bites are good for you and good for the planet—that’s all I need!”

Click here for the Double Strawberry Peach “Jello” Parfait recipe.

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