Foodboro: 15 of Chicago’s Hottest Emerging Food and Beverage Companies

An acai bowl enjoyed on an Australian beach is what led the founder behind this snack brand to go all in on sprouted buckwheat. Launched in April 2018, Lil Bucks is committed to promoting sustainable farming practices. Learn more about buckwheat, its uses and impact on the environment here, and order some Lil Bucks products to try!


We're donating 100% of our website profits this week to Australia

Australia desperately needs our help amidst these devastating fires, and the temperatures keep rising. Read our story to learn about Lil Bucks roots and why this issue hits EXTRA CLOSE to home. Regardless, people have died, homes burned, half a billion animals burned alive, Australia’s environment is burning with over 200 active fires in ALL of Australia’s states, and thousands are still stranded. This is a climate disaster and we need to help and give back to the land we’ve taken from and help our Aussie friends down under. Watch this video to learn more, but shop this week and we’ll be donating 100% of our profits to the Australian Red Cross!

WBBM News Radio: Made In Chicago: Lil Bucks

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — It was about three years ago when Emily Griffith’s life changed.

“I used to live in Sydney, Australia, and that’s where I had what I call a life-changing acai bowl.”

It’s like a fruit smoothie in a bowl, usually topped with granola.

“The reason I loved this one so much was because they used sprouted buckwheat instead of granola in the bowl,” Griffith said.


Meet The #NothingSmallAboutUs Small Business Founders

This year, for Small Business Saturday, we’re actually celebrating all week long with seven other amazing food brands changing the game:

And now, I want you to MEET THE BOSSES BEHIND THE BIZ! It’s always cool when you get to work with people you admire, and I’m so stoked to collab with all these bada$$ founders for this whole week to celebrate #SmallBusinessSaturday! We truly are stronger when we hold each other up and I am grateful to have met and learned from all these women.

P.S. If you haven’t yet, sign up here to get a one-time email with a single discount code that you can use on ALL EIGHT BRAND WEBSITES!! 15% off through Saturday, November 30th, 2019!

1. Snow Monkey Ice Cream

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Rachel Geicke has been no stranger to the world of business. She started her first business in the entertainment industry at 16, turning a profit and leveraging that experience in her future endeavors. She ultimately ended up at Boston University where the first batches of Snow Monkey were created in her college apartment. Being an athlete Rachel truly understand the power of food as functional fuel and is now set out on a mission to change the way we indulge and think when it comes to food as fuel.


2. Kween & Co.

Ali Bonar is CEO and Co-Founder of Kween, a San Diego-based food company that makes Granola Butter: the world’s first spreadable granola. While studying nutrition at UC Berkeley, Ali developed an eating disorder — and started her Instagram account @avokween to document her recovery and journey to self-love. Ali resides in San Diego with her boyfriend and ball of fluff, Squishy.


3. Tiger Butter Co.

Tiger Butter Co. was born in 2018, after the founder, Kristen, was struggling with numerous health issues and allergies. There were many foods that she was unable to digest so Kristen felt extremely restricted, and food was no longer enjoyable. For a period of time she stayed away from certain foods like nuts and seeds to heal her health issues, but was missing out on her usual snacks including nut butter. Kristen began playing around in the kitchen with tiger nuts, and she created what would soon be Tiger Butter. After three months of making this treat for herself, she realized how many other people were feeling restricted while following protocols for health issues, and started selling Tiger Nut Butter!


4. Amazi Foods

In April of 2016, Renee boarded a plane back to Uganda. Having studied abroad and conducting her thesis research there in college, Renee was struck by the rich agricultural sector and bounty of organic fruits bursting with tropical flavors, but even more so, by the degree to which these were left untapped. Seeing the piles of fruit lying in stands on the street, she realized a disconnect in our supply chains – even in the shift toward ethical sourcing, we were still reenforcing a disconnect in the supply chain. Those at the farm level were disconnected from the final product, and often, these communities experienced high unemployment, lack of industry or innovation, not to mention food waste. Inspired in part by her own search for clean-label but not-boring snacks, she embarked on a mission to build sustainable, inclusive supply chains through her Made-in-Uganda Snacks.


5. Swapples

Rebecca started Swapples in 2015 because she wanted to combine her childhood love for mini waffles and, ironically, real food. In dealing with autoimmune disorders and allergies, she was having a hard time finding allergen-friendly, vegetable-based breakfast options – so she created her own yuca waffles to make life easier…. and she’s literally eaten one every day since.


6. Nosh Bars

Michele Lockhart is CEO and Founder of nosh bar, a Philly-based snack bar company. A life-long athlete, Michele realized how important food was to performance – on and off the field. After spending a year eating mostly only what she grew on her 20’x25’ garden plot, she realized whole foods made her feel best. Nosh bar was born out of a desire to keep on the go snacking and pre-workout fuel made with just the good stuff.


7. Revival Food Co.

Revival Food Co had its start 5 years ago out of Rachel’s home kitchen after experiencing her own health revival, following decades of being a contemporary dancer and disordered eating. Peanut and almond butter had always been a staple for her, but she was now realizing how unimpressive the nut butter selection really was — there were added sugars, preservatives, palm oil, etc… AND they didn’t even taste good. No thanks! So she started making her own! Rachel used this almond butter as wedding favors at her wedding, which then became a business after the requests of many. Revival Food Co is now known for its addictive, indulgent, almond butters that have real flavor, real texture, and nothing added to them that don’t do something incredible for the body! Rachel now lives in Indianapolis with her husband, dog (Champ), two little boys (Jonny & Ben), and a little girl on the way!



Well, you’re in the right place for that. Read about our story here, and if you’re reading this before Nov. 30, 2019, sign up below to get that 15% discount for #SmallBusinessSaturday. Thank you for supporting us and all the other small businesses, shops and cafes out there. ?


WGN Radio Technori Interview: You’ve Probably Never Heard of This Superfood (but It Could Be the Next Big Thing)

The way to the heart may indeed be through the stomach (metaphorically speaking), but a food entrepreneur’s path to success is less easily discernible. Emily Griffith, CEO of Lil Bucks, offers fruit seed products that might not be known to many consumers.


Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel Selects Top Trends at 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show

Nutritious Grains
Grains are being hailed for their nutrients including sprouted varieties that offer activated nutrition as well as fiber-rich options like barley and buckwheat.

  • Lil Bucks, Clusterbucks, sprouted buckwheat snack for high fiber and activated nutrition


Lil Bucks Featured in Raaka Chocolate Bar

A dream collaboration has come to fruition with Raaka Chocolate. ? I met someone from their team at EXPO West (the first trade show I ever went to) and was blown away by the packaging, the traceability of ingredients (most importantly, cacao) and unique flavors. And all the bars happen to be vegan! They also don’t roast their cacao so you are getting the most potent form of antioxidants from cacao in their chocolate. Raaka aims to capture “the brighter, bolder, and fruitier side of cacao.” My favorite flavors were the Coconut Milk, Oat Milk and Bananas Foster–so unique.

In true Emily-fashion (becoming obsessed with superfoods I come across cough sprouted buckwheat), I became extremely obsessed with Raaka Chocolate. Might’ve even ordered 5lbs of Raaka chocolate chips to experiment with recipes for a Lil Bucks chocolate (which confirmed, even more so, why Raaka is so amazing. High end chocolate is hard to work with, y’all). So I left the collaboration work in the hand of the chocolate masters themselves, Raaka. I mean, really. We just supplied the sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat and they magically transformed it into a GRANOLA BOWL BAR. ???

62% @raakachocolate + Lil Bucks Original + banana + hemp hearts + oat flour = “a chocolate reminiscent of morning granola.” Hi. This bar is part of their monthly chocolate subscription (you can subscribe to as little or many bars as you’d like), called First Nibs (great name). 

Those who I’ve met from the Raaka team are also the loveliest people, on a mission to create unique bars using traceable, high quality, single origin cacao. This is truly one of the best parts about being a food entrepreneur is meeting other passionate foodies behind the brands changing the game. If you are a chocolate fiend this is a must-try, and if you’re in Brooklyn visit the factory! ? Linked to their website below — take a look!! 


NPR / WBEZ Radio: Food Mondays - Sprouted Buckwheat

This first big feature on WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station, with Monica Eng made us BLOW UP in Chicagoland and helped get the word out regionally about sprouted buckwheat! It was so fun to record in an official studio, too. Monica Eng is an amazing reporter – check out this 15 minute segment on Lil Bucks! 


Modern Luxury 2019 “Top 10 Wellness Musts”

The sprouted buckwheat seeds pack in 10 times more antioxidants than quinoa, and they’re also raw, grain-free, paleo and vegan, thus declaring Lil Bucks the new superseed in town.

READ IN Modern Luxury Chicago Social

Healthy Soil Compost Partnership!

Last night I lucked out and got last-second entry to see Stephanie Izard, Top Chef winner and owner of Girl & The Goat, discuss food sustainability. Between obscure lines from Mrs. Doubtfire, ordering cocktails via her microphone, and hilarious side-stores (I’m all about a tangent), Stephanie discussed her new cook book “Gather & Graze” about how to repurpose leftovers instead of throwing them away, and how her Goat team implemented sustainable practices to redirect 10,000 pounds of kitchen scraps to the compost pile each month!

Five days ago, MindBodyGreen shared a podcast interview with Lauren Singer, the environmental kween who popularized the zero-waste movement through her blog, Trash Is for Tossers.  I loved this podcast – it reminded me to think about everything you throw in the trash… is it worth producing trash that is literally going to rot away for practically EVER?! What can we do to reduce? She offers practical solutions so you can gradually reduce your impact.

Both Stephanie Izard’s chat and Lauren’s podcast interview didn’t reveal any mind-blowing environmental practices we should all be doing… everything mentioned was relatively simple and doable, dare I say obvious, but we sometimes just forget we can do these things when you’re not in the habit. Lauren may have even convinced me to start concocting my own toothpaste – apparently it’s simple!

One of the things I can happily say I do is HOME COMPOSTING. Composting is such an obvious choice to save food waste from getting stuck in landfills and releasing dangerous CO2 emissions. And even if you live in a city with no yard (#highriselife) your city likely has a composting option. I started using Chicago’s Healthy Soil Compost Community compost program, where they drop off a bucket and you pay depending on how many times they pick up per month. All you do is leave the bucket by your door and they replace with a fresh one, and you compost, compost, compost. We have saved SO MUCH doing this. I throw any food waste that falls on the floor during Lil Bucks production in here.

I am stoked to partner with Healthy Soil Compost and you will see Lil Bucks promoting them at our upcoming events (see the end for our upcoming events). Also if you sign up (WHICH YOU REALLY SHOULD THIS IS SO EASY AND AWESOME), mention Emily from Lil Bucks so we get a discount ?If you know anyone who owns a cafe or restaurant, send them this list of Chicago partners and get their restaurant on board. Lil Bucks may save a few lbs per month of food waste, but like Girl & The Goat, restaurants who compost can have a HUGE impact.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and GET CREATIVE with those leftovers friends!! Xoxo


November 25th: Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen, 12pm – 5pm at Emporium Logan Square

November 27th: Lil Bucks x Vital Proteins x Title Boxing Club Wellness Event!! Come in for an evening class at Title Boxing Lincoln Park. Some other amazing brands will be there… DM @Lovelilbucks to get a spot / first class is free

December 7th: Revival Food Hall First Fridays Party and Holiday Market, 5pm – 9pm. This will be fun – kick off your weekend with some fun brands, a DJ, drinks, friends, etc.

 December 9th: Covet Markets at Revel Fulton Market 10am – 5pm! DM @lovelilbucks for a discount code for entry. I love this market!!

December 11th: Member appreciation event at AIR Lincoln Park – take a class and have fun with some cool brands!

December 12th: Sampling at The Startup Food Bash, 6pm – 8:30pm.