dedicating the dar bar

As some phyte clubbers know, we’ve been working on a new bar flavor for a couple weeks now, and I’m grateful to all those who tried the versions 1.0 (not enough lemon), 2.0 (a little too salty), and 3.0 (still not quite lemony enough, but a great pre- and post fuel for the Charlottesville 10 Miler, it turns out). With all the good feedback in our pockets, we cranked out version 4.0 over the weekend, and can’t wait to share it with you!

Powered with organic pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia, this bar is different than our others in that it’s sweetened with organic figs instead of dates, and sparked up with lemon zest. I’ve been struggling with what to call this tart little powerhouse for days, literally lying in bed tossing out possible names.  The obvious “fig & lemon bar” just seemed to boring and literal alongside “superstar” and “mighty mint” not to mention that we’re proud of the fact that figs are actually NOT among the first two ingredients, naturally making the protein content higher and sugar content lower than most commercially available bars. So, what to call it?

The snark in me wanted to play on the old “Fig Newton,” which is of course owned by Nabisco which is of course owned by Mondelez International, which, as I have noted before, is a global candy & junk food behemoth that spent almost $3.4 million lobbying the U.S. Congress between 2012-2016 (source: Center for Responsive Politics).  In case you want to know why so many public school vending machines are stocked the way they are…

Inspired by #InternationalWomensDay, I thought Rachel Carson would be a more apt scientist than Newton to be associated with good phyte foods (though I’ve got nothing against gravity, don’t get me wrong). But “carson bar” was a bit of a confusing mouthful, and “rachel bar” just reminded me of Jennifer Anniston’s face. And who wants that?

Then, one night last week, as I struggled to sleep (I had an unusual coffee at Brazos at lunchtime, okay? okay?), it hit me. The perfect name, honoring a woman in my life who has inspired me with her unflagging energy, kept me humble with her honesty, and always pushed me to strive for better.

I met Dar back in 2008, when I had just started working for the darlene wolniknational Farmers Market Coalition (FMC).  She worked at the time for a partner organization in New Orleans (market umbrella), and I had just been hired into a big position for which I was probably seen as too young, too unknown, and too inexperienced. I will never forget first meeting her skeptical self in that small Comfort Inn lobby in Los Angeles, and the energized discussions that bordered on arguments we would have there, on the windy streets of San Francisco, and just about any city where we met for a project collaboration or conference, including her hometown of New Orleans and right here in Charlottesville. She had been an environmental activist in Ohio before becoming embedded in the the movement to develop and restore thriving local economies. Geez, she was intimidating! The woman devoured books! She seems informed about everything! She never went to college (she didn’t seem to need to), but a wry brilliance emerged in even the most casual of conversations. When did she sleep? The woman was a dynamo who happily and humbly saw her role as a foot soldier in the pursuit of social justice and environmental sustainability. How could I keep up?!

Through the years, we would plot, plan, write, dream big, gripe, and seek solace about state and national politics together. We offended each other. We forgave each other. I was impatient. She was patient. I would offend her again. She would forgive me again. When I stepped away from FMC after having Fionn in 2012 and gradually stopped working with her on one project or another, I realized it was her verve I missed the most. Though even I didn’t recognize it at the time, it was, in part, her indefatigable “good enough isn’t good enough” energy that inspired good phyte foods.

Aside from working now herself for FMC part-time, she publishes almost daily on a blog she runs called Helping Public Markets Grow, where she recently gave good phyte foods some props. She maintains a local history web side called French Quarter Block by Block,  and of course manages to do what people do who live in the French Quarter- have fun. Laugh. Walk around. Talk to strangers.

Though I see her infrequently now, we can still talk on the phone for hours. She is one of those rare people who mails random snippets of wisdom for no particular occasion, miraculously knowing exactly what you need to hear when you need to hear it. 

Oh, and in Spanish, Dar is the verb “to give.”  Gracias, Dar. For all you’ve given me. In your honor, good phyte foods will donate 10 cents from every dar bar sold to the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville.

ingredients: organic pumpkin seeds, raw organic sunflower seeds, organic dried figs, organic chia seeds, organic raisins, locally grown organic kale, lemon extract, organic lemon peel, himalayan pink salt, vanilla extract