California Adventures with ClifBar Pt. 2

And we’re back today with more California fun!  Before we dive into more of my adventures with Clif Bar & Company, be sure to check out Part 1 of the trip here.  

Cliff HQ

For Day 2, we headed to Clif HQ for a tour and introduction to the company as a whole.  Years ago, long before receiving the invitation to this trip, I had heard about Clif being an awesome company to work for. Some family member of a friend of a friend worked for Clif and talked about how progressive the company was in creating a healthy and sustainable work environment and that has always stuck in my mind.  We visited HQ on a Thursday, which is was perfect for getting a feel for company culture, as Thursdays are when they host a weekly company-wide meeting and provide free breakfast for everyone.  The meeting always starts with a letter or “good news” praise for the company as a whole, a department, or even a specific employee.  Nothing like starting the day off on a positive note! I love it!

Kit

Kit (co-owner of Clif)

The best place to start in explaining Clif company culture is with the five aspirations that serve as their guide for doing business.   The 5 aspirations focus on sustaining Clif’s Business, Brands, People, Community and the Planet.  Their commitment to these aspirations were apparent during our tour of HQ and the farms, as well as in our interactions with employees.  

Sustainability Clif

The HQ building itself is LEED Certified, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  This means there is a focus on conserving water and energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The interior, including furniture, artwork and sound panels are all from recycled sources.  Large windows and garden areas allow for natural sunlight and solar panels on the roof create the heat for hot water.  The work area is open, with half walls separating cubicles, some of which house standing desks (which I’m a big fan of).   To create some division and privacy, plants are used as natural dividers and to add a little greenery.  

Clif HQ

As far as sustaining their people, Clif totally rocks. For starters, everyday is bring your dog to work day.  What could be better than a workplace where there are always pups hanging around?! I’m not sure Rocky would go for it, but my friend Gus here sure seemed to like going to work for Clif!

Gus

If the dogs aren’t enough to convince you how great Clif is to their people, there are just a few more perks.  There is a subsidized daycare (called Base Camp–so cute!) right next door to HQ, so parents can check in with their kids during the workday.  There are dedicated mommy rooms for breastfeeding, with pumps and all supplies provided, so nursing moms don’t have to lug everything to work each day.  Employees are also incentivized to leave their cars at home and bike to work, or switch to a fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicle.  

Clif HQ also has an on-site fitness center, with classes and a rock-climbing wall.  Oh, and employees get a 30-minute paid break each day to utilize the fitness center.  That’s right–THEY GET PAID TO WORK OUT DURING THE DAY.  

RockClimbing

Massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and health coaches are also available on site.  Clif offers telecommuting and flexible work weeks, with an option to work 80 hours in 9 days and get every other Friday off.  After seven years with the company, employees are rewarded with an opportunity to take sabbatical for personal development and growth.  I mean, seriously?! 

Clif is also committed to the community, allowing employees to volunteer (on company time) to serve any non-profit organization of their choice.  This year the goal is 11,440 hours of service, which they track on this awesome board in the office.

Volunteer

HQ also has a cafe, which is employee run and focuses on local, sustainable food.  Breakfast is served for free daily and lunch is subsidized.  They have soups, salads, sandwiches and more, plus they receive some produce from the Clif Family Farm too!  

Kali's

Last, but not least, there is an entire wall at the office which is stocked daily with all Clif products, which employees can grab and snack on during the day.  We were allowed to snag some goodies on our tour, so you know I grabbed some of those Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut bars!  The Dark Chocolate Chili Almond is my jam!

Clif Bars

After our tour, we broke into groups to build our own Clif bars.  Erica, Toby and I created a Matcha Machine bar with almonds, matcha, blueberries and mulberries.  We ran out of time to bake and taste-test, but I’m pretty sure we had a winner!

DIY Bar

During lunch, we sat in on a panel discussion with Clif athletes Maghalie Rochette, Lakey Peterson and Kimmy Fasani.  It was awesome to see what these badass women are doing in their respective sports and hear how they like to fuel their workouts.

Athlete Panel

After spending the day learning about the Clif company, we were treated to an energizing yoga class to end the retreat.  It was the perfect mix of heart-pumping movement and calming breathing techniques that I love in yoga.

Yoga clip

As you can probably tell, I had a great time experiencing the Clif company culture with incredible colleagues.  I was beyond impressed by the transparency of the brand and their willingness and interest in creating open dialogue with us nutrition professionals.  Big thanks again to the Clif team!  Here’s hoping they keep making waves and inspire other companies to follow suit with their dedication to health, wellness and sustainability.

What are some of your company perks?  Have you ever had a bring-your-dog-to-work day?  What’s your favorite Clif bar product or flavor?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

Disclosure: All of my travel and accommodations for this trip were covered by ClifBar.  I was not compensated for writing this post or asked to share any of my experience.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

California Adventures with ClifBar Pt. 1

All of my travel and accommodations for this trip were covered by ClifBar.  I was not compensated for writing this post or asked to share any of my experience.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Two weeks ago, I had an awesome opportunity to head out to California with other sports-focused dietitians for a nutrition retreat with the Clif Bar team.  Some of the other attendees are BIG in the sports nutrition field so while I felt a tad out of my league, I was excited to be a part of the whole experience.

After landing in San Francisco, we immediately headed to the Clif Family Winery in Napa Valley, Velo Vino, for lunch. 

Velo Vino

The tasting room is decked out in cycling decor and offers up specialty foods like preserves, nuts and vinegars in addition to Clif bar products.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch from the Bruschetteria food truck on site and of course, a small wine tasting.  The Bici (cute name, right?) was definitely a fave of mine!

Lunch

After lunch, we made a quick stop to check-in at the Napa Valley Lodge where we’d be staying for the night.  I didn’t snap any pictures of the resort, but my room was gorgeous with a little patio that overlooked a vineyard.  We were able to freshen up a bit for heading out to the Clif Family Farm for a tour.

Cliff Farm

I’ll be sharing a little backstory of Clif Company, as well as more of their culture in Part 2, but the fully organic farm should start to clue you into how they roll.  Our tour was led by Farmers Brad and Drew and they shared all sorts of insight into how they handle growing all of the food for the food truck and more.  The Clif Family Farm is certified with CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) and Food Alliance.  The Clif Bar Family Foundation also created Seed Matters, an initiative to preserve genetic diversity among crops and support seed research. 

Seed Matters

There has been some controversy surrounding the recent Mr. Seed video that was released by Seed Matters, accusing the Clif Foundation and the producers of being fear-mongers and spreading misinformation regarding organic and non-organic farming practices.  I did take the chance to ask the Clif team about the video and the response was that Clif stands behind the messaging.  While I personally do not agree that the best way to go about encouraging organic farming practices is with aggression and vulgarity, I can appreciate that organic has always been important to Clif and that they continue to fight for their messaging.  

As for the farm tour, we got to see everything they’re growing including lettuces, onions, blueberries, peaches, their signature red flint corn.  They also have several bee hives on the property, as well as chickens and roosters.

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After the tour, we gathered for an educational edible experience with Kate Geagan.  Kate walked us through some fun taste tests and opened our eyes to the variety of descriptors there are for foods.  She focused on the energizing foods Clif used in their bars and products: dates, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. We also covered the importance of gut health in supporting our energy metabolism from the foods we eat.  It was a great refresher from a lot of the discussions at the Food As Medicine conference I went to in the fall, which was so interesting!

edible experience

The taste testing was fun and delicious, but after we finished it was definitely time for a good meal.  Everyone boarded our bus and headed over to the Clif Family Vineyard for dinner.  Executive Chef John explained the menu and actually prepared it right on site in the wood fired outdoor oven!  

 

We enjoyed Clif signature Red Flint Corn Polenta with Chanterelle Mushrooms (ahhhmazing!), Grilled Kale with Lemon Ricotta Salata and Radicchio Salad with Garlic Anchovy Vinaigrette and Pecorino.  There was also wood-fired chicken for the non-veg folks.  Oh, and plenty of delicious vino, as introduced by the winemaker Laura Barrett, who we got to chat with during dinner.

Vineyard meal

Most importantly, the meal ended with delicious mini sweets:  Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Plum Compote and Savory Herbs (weird/incredible combo) and Chocolate Budino with Whipped Cream and Sea Salt.  Of course, I had to try both and whoa!  I actually liked the Panna Cotta best, but you can’t go wrong with chocolate and sea salt!  Yum!

Dessert Clif

Dessert was the perfect end to our first day and we headed back to the Napa Valley Lodge for bed.  More on Clif culture and our tour of Clif Bar HQ to come in Part 2.  Stay tuned!

Your turn–Have you been to Napa Valley? Did you know Clif Bar Company also owns a vineyard and a farm?! When it comes to dessert: chocolate or vanilla?

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