Pursuing their passion: CFANS alumni start probiotics company
When CFANS Food Systems alumnus Garret McCormick was just fourteen, he began taking probiotics and noticed a big change in how he felt: he had more energy, and he was ill less frequently. Years later, after meeting Amanda Pederson in a cooking class at the U, they turned this insight into their careers.
Pederson and McCormick started a probiotic company called thirty-two degrees, where they sell coconut water kefir. Kefir is a fermented beverage that usually contains milk products; however, according to the thirty-two degrees website, coconut water kefir is “vegan, soy and gluten-free, and contains more probiotics in a few drops than can be counted on one-hundred million hands!”
The idea was sparked when the couple was making coconut water kefir in their kitchen, and realized there wasn’t an organic option. Their coconut water kefir uses organic coconuts, and contains no added sugars.
Pederson majored in Nutrition at the U, while McCormick majored in Food Systems. Since probiotics is a newer field, neither of them received much exposure to probiotics during their classes. However, their college experiences exposed them to different courses, helped them refine their interests, and get jobs after college. According to McCormick, the Food Systems major helped him realize his affinity for natural foods, which led him down the path to where he is now.
However, McCormick notes that during college, he noticed a common, negative worldview. “The overall narrative I experienced [was]... You go from high school, to college, to career, and then you spend the rest of your life miserable in your office chair,” says McCormick.
Pederson also experienced this confining view during college. “I picked Nutrition, and then it [people were] like, well, what are you going to do with that?” says Pederson. “You can either be a dietician, or you can work in a hospital. Then I started realizing that there’s other things you can do, too.”
Before she realized this, she was working in what she referred to as an unfulfilling corporate job after college, as was McCormick. As Pederson puts it, she had to find another way to be happy.
Launching the company was not without its difficulties, though. Some challenges the pair faced included scheduling while they both had other jobs, and learning the etiquette of professional communication across with different types of people.
“There has to be some means to get to where you want to be; [you can’t] snap your fingers and have everything be perfect,” McCormick says. “[But] I think if you put your head down and work, you will end up where you’re supposed to be.”
For more information about McCormick and Pederson’s story and their company, thirty-two degrees, visit www.thirtytwoprobiotics.com.