Tanka Spotlight: Back to Basics Organics

December 16, 2010

Since our launch in October 2007 we have been privileged to work with outstanding retail partners. These folks are so passionate about their businesses and their customers we decided we needed to share their unique stories. If you'd like to be featured, or if you'd like to nominate a Tanka retailer for a story, please contact Jenice Johnson at jenicejohnson@tankabar.com.

RETAILER: Back to Basics Organics


LOCATION: 1307 S. Heaton St., Knox, IN 46534

Going from selling Tupperware to owning a store seemed like a daunting idea for Juanita Ketcham. But 23 years ago, after dealing with illness and shopping at an area coop that was closing, she felt that was where her life was heading.

"I came home and said my prayers," she said.

The answer she said she received was that she needed to open a store focused on healthier living which she was determined to do in her town of Knox, IN, even though many people said it would never work. Knox is a small farming community and Mrs. Ketcham admits that she and her family-owned business called Back to Basics Organics receives some flak from the locals. In the beginning, the family even raised their own grass-fed meat.

"They would come in and laugh at us and say, 'You can't do it that way!' We have always been odd out here," she said. "Now the media is catching up with what we have been doing forever. The farmers are still fighting us on the GMO (genetically modified organism) but people are recognizing the importance of that and we are slowly starting to make people aware of what is going on with their food."

In fact, after showing the documentary Food, Inc. at the local drive-in movie, a local seed dealer and one of Back to Basics' biggest skeptics apologized. The movie sheds an unflattering light on the nation's food industry.

"At first, he thought what we were doing was just a lot of hype but he said he knew the people in the film," Mrs. Ketcham said. "He recognized that we were sincere."

She said now it's hard to keep up with the demand for items like grass-fed beef. The family no longer raises their own grass-fed meat and opted to instead spend their energy in the store and finding other grass-fed farmers. Her family believes that the store is impacting the way people grow their food in Knox.

"There is still a lot of people who shop the other way, but now the stuff is moving and the grocery stores are even carrying it," Mrs. Ketcham said. "Now we have to teach about real organic vs. General Mills organic. We are always out there trying to make people understand real food as oppose to the fake stuff."

Mrs. Ketcham, who spent two years as a herbalist, said she feels much better now since opening Back to Basics Organics and has several certificates in herbalism and body and mind healing. Becoming an organic business prompted her to find more non-conventional ways of healing. Her family believes that the store is impacting the way people grow their food in Knox.

"Our mission here is to get people healthy," she said. "We want to modify what people put in their mouth so they aren't putting unhealthy food in there instead."

Back to Basics facts

Ron and Juanita Ketcham have three daughters, who also are owners in the business.

Back to Basics doesn't have a sales quota. Staff asks customers questions to find out what their needs are and match products according to their needs.

The Ketcham family found out about Tanka Bar at a trade show and really resonated with its "grass-root effort."

College students and kids in Knox like Tanka products.

For more about Back to Basics Organics: backtobasicsorganics.com.

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