Evan Delahanty’s Peace Corps experience in teaching entrepreneurship to tribes deep in the Amazon Rainforest left an indelible impression. After he returned to the U.S., he wanted to start a business that fed the greater good of empowering local communities and bringing people together through food.
“I wasn’t ready to give up the connection. I wanted to do something to preserve their way of life,” he says. “Peaceful Fruits came from a desire to stay rooted to the rainforest and to give people peace of mind because they are eating a product that empowers people and protects the rainforest.”
His small but mighty Akron-based operation creates full-wage work for individuals with disabilities through partnerships with Hattie Larlam and the Blick Clinic—two nonprofits that provide support services for individuals with developmental, physical, and behavioral conditions.
“We have individuals who love making the snacks at Hattie Larlam’s food production center. They are so energized and excited,” Delahanty says. “The economic empowerment piece is a key part of our mission.”
Delahanty developed his concept for fair-trade whole fruit strips at the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen in 2014. A co-op of indigenous families directly harvest the açaí from the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, which supports local economies and protects the local communities’ traditional ways of life. Each superfood fruit snack contains 25 açaí berries and has no added preservatives, flavorings, or sugars. Snacks are gluten-free, and vegan- and paleo-friendly.
“Peaceful Fruits are right for our bodies and right for the world,” Delahanty says.
The venture has earned local and national attention. Peaceful Fruits was named a semifinalist in the 2015 Echoing Green international social impact competition.
Delahanty hopes to scale up the business and expand his product line with chocolate-covered açaí berries, yogurt-covered fruits, ice creams, and smoothies. Perhaps a food industry titan will want to acquire the business or even unveil a similar concept.
“Socially driven businesses represent an emerging space,” he says. “We want to make the case that we could change General Mills from the inside out. If they create a competing product that is good for you and good for the world, the capitalistic Evan might be disappointed, but the socially driven Evan will be super happy.”
Peaceful Fruits are sold online and are available for purchase at natural foods stores across Northeast Ohio, including Mustard Seed Market and Krieger’s Health Food Market. For more information, visit PeacefulFruits.com.