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Our Story

The Food For Thought® Story…

The Food For Thought brand originated over 25 years ago by founder, Timothy Young, who began making premium quality preserves in his own home kitchen near the Lake Michigan shore, to sell at local farm markets.  The brand, the product line and the company grew – and years later Timothy’s brother, Greg Young, joined the organization along with “local food” advocate and partner, Chip Hoagland. Together, they opened a new, state of the art production kitchen in a creatively re-purposed (previously abandoned) elementary school in Traverse City, MI.  Today, Food For Thought is part of the Tamarack Holdings family of niche food brands, and we produce more than 100 different artisanal products (for our own brand and for others), including preserves, salsas, sauces, and condiments. 
We live and work in beautiful northern Michigan and enjoy bringing just a little bit of Traverse City to your table!  Open a jar, close your eyes, take a taste.  Can you hear the waves from the Lake lapping the sandy beach?  Smell the piney forest?  Picture the ripe, red cherries hanging on the trees? We thought so…

Earth FriendlyEarth Friendly 

We love our planet and try to do our part to protect her in any way we can. Food For Thought is dedicated to recycling and composting - and we operate our production kitchen in a “green,” energy efficient building.

…Additionally, Long Lake Culinary Campus (LLCC)home of the Food For Thought production kitchen and offices, has taken a leadership position in clean energy by installing a 149.48kW solar PV system in 2021 that is projected to generate about 95% of what the property consumes annually!  The LLCC is located in a completely renovated, redesigned building that was previously an abandoned elementary school. 

Long Lake Culinary Campus, home of Food for Though, goes solar with new power system

John “Chip” Hoagland, owner of Food For Thought, holds a respected reputation fueling economic growth and business expansion through infectious innovation in northern Michigan.  “We could have constructed brand-new facility for Food For Thought at a fraction of the cost of renovating an existing building. But I knew the right thing to do from the standpoint of carbon footprint reduction, was to utilize an existing structure that was sitting empty and repurpose it as state-of-the-art facility using as much of the original structure as possible.”  

Clean and Green is our motto.  Putting our money where our mouth (and ) is. 

Awards: Well, we don’t like to brag, but …

National Good Food Awards: Good Food Award Winner

  • Blueberry Lavender Preserve
    • Great Lakes Pear Preserve
    • Wild Leek Marinara (finalist)

    Scovie Awards: Scovie Award Winners

    • 1st Place: Bean & Corn Salsa with Scotch Bonnet Peppers Chili Peppers, All-Natural category
    • 2nd Place: Scorpion's Sting Hot Sauce, All Natural XXX-Hot category
    • 2nd Place: Habanero Peach Salsa, Fruit category
    • 2nd Place: Bean & Corn Salsa with Scotch Bonnet Peppers Chili Peppers, Hot category
    • 2nd Place: Habanero Peach Salsa, Specialty Chile category
    • 3rd Place: Devils' Breath Salsa, Natural category
    • 3rd Place: Red Scorpion Salsa, XXX-Hot category

    Intentional Ingredients – Think About it!

    • We source local ingredients whenever possible
    • We use Fair Trade, pure cane sugar in ALL our recipes - rather than less expensive High Fructose Corn Syrup or GMO Beet Sugar, and many of our recipes incorporate natural sweeteners like honey and molasses.
    • All our recipes are lower-sugar -- flavor-forward
    • No preservatives, no artificial ingredients – all clean label recipes: True Food
    • We quality check every batch of fruit and vegetables we receive because crop quality is variable. If an ingredient does not meet our standards, we find another source (even if that means delaying a batch of product from us)
    • How ‘bout them CHERRIES?  We’re here in the “cherry capital” of the country, so you won’t find better quality Cherry preserves, Cherry salsas, Cherry BBQ sauce, Cherry salad dressing, Cherry hot sauce…
    • Ingredient Claims and Certifications – proudly listed right on our jars!
    • FFT Icons bar

    Small-Batch Production

    Every product we make is handcrafted in small batches of 240 jars or less (compared to batches in the thousands of jars from large food producers), and we don’t cut corners.  On every label we tell you how many jars were in that “batch.”  You simply cannot replicate our handmade, small-batch quality with large, commercial, machine-run processing.  We know you can taste the difference.

    Unique & Sophisticated Flavor Combinations

    Our flagship product was Timothy’s Wild Blueberry Merlot Preserve (now available as “Michigan Blueberry Merlot Preserve”) -- a wonderful flavor combination that set the stage for a product strategy led by sophisticated flavor profiles.  From there, our line grew and grew!  Our unique recipes feature perfect pairings like: Blueberry Lavender, Apricot Chardonnay, Apple Bourbon, Cherry Chile Tequila, Strawberry Basil, Blackberry Shiraz, Peach Habanero – just to name a few.   

    Our Partners

    By buying Food For Thought, you are making a statement - not just about the kind of food you eat, but also the type of company you support.  It’s a reflection of you and your values.  Because of this, we make careful choices about which retailers can carry Food For Thought products, to ensure it is the right fit with our ethos and yours.

    Our story is just beginning – THANK YOU for being one of our Thoughtful Eaters!




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