Melody Meyer: Organic Foods Distributor

Read the full text transcript (PDF) and listen to the audio of the oral history with Melody Meyer.

305Melody Meyer. Photo by Wendy Ballen.

Conducted by Ellen Farmer on June 8 and September 22, 2007, Melody Meyer’s oral history documents the extraordinary transformation of the organic foods sector between the 1970s and the early 21st century. Meyer was born in Iowa in 1960; she was introduced to organic and natural foods at age sixteen, when she began working at a natural foods co-op in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She moved to Santa Cruz in the late 1970s and joined Community Foods, a collectively owned, collectively run natural foods store, where she stayed for six years. There she met many local organic growers who came to sell their produce in the store and through its affiliate, Santa Cruz Trucking.

After leaving Community Foods, Meyer became Watsonville Coast Produce’s first woman buyer, developing an organic distribution program. Later she was hired by Ocean Organics, an organic foods distribution company located in Moss Landing, California. She moved on to work for six years for Scott Hawkins of Hawkins Associates, where she pioneered transporting organic produce from California to distant markets such as Bread and Circus, Wellspring Grocery, Mrs. Gooch’s, and other small natural food store chains in the Midwest and on the East Coast, many of which were eventually bought by Whole Foods. In 1995, Meyer left Hawkins to start her own distribution company, Source Organic. Her Jack Russell terrier, Dylan, became president of the company and had his own voice mail and e-mail account. Dylan settled under the table during the oral history, and his contented snores can be heard on the audio recording of this interview.

In 2000, Source Organic became a subsidiary of Albert’s Organics, which in turn was bought by United Natural Foods International (UNFI)—a reflection of increasing consolidation in the organic foods industry. In 2006, New Hope Media awarded Melody Meyer the Spirit of Organic award, honoring organic leaders nominated by their peers in the industry.