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Redefining Nighttime Routines: A Key to Enhanced Productivity and Creativity

In the bustling corridors of Colorado’s business world, where the line between work and life blurs, the pursuit of work-life balance often feels like a distant dream. Yet, amidst the strategies and innovations driving our businesses forward, a trend is emerging — one that underscores the importance of a holistic approach to work-life harmony: the critical role of nighttime routines in enhancing productivity and creativity.

Recent studies and anecdotal evidence alike are pointing to sleep — not just the quantity but the quality — as a pivotal factor influencing cognitive function, decision-making and innovative thinking. For Colorado’s business professionals, reevaluating and enriching their nighttime routines could be the missing link in achieving higher levels of success and fulfillment.

READ: Balancing Business Ownership — Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Entrepreneurs?

The science behind sleep and productivity

Research has consistently shown that sleep is integral to processing and consolidating memories, solving complex problems and fostering creative solutions. A restorative night’s sleep acts as a reset button for the brain, clearing out mental clutter and paving the way for fresh ideas and perspectives to surface. This is not just about clocking in seven to eight hours of shut-eye but ensuring those hours are restful, allowing the brain to undergo its natural cycles of repair and rejuvenation.

The impact of nighttime routines

What happens before we close our eyes at night plays a significant role in the quality of our sleep. A well-structured nighttime routine can significantly impact our ability to fall asleep quickly and enjoy uninterrupted rest. This routine might include dimming the lights, disconnecting from electronic devices, engaging in relaxing activities and perhaps most importantly, setting the mind at ease — an aspect often overlooked in our fast-paced environment.

A local perspective

In Colorado, where the entrepreneurial spirit thrives amidst the state’s natural beauty, business leaders and innovators are beginning to embrace the concept of a balanced nighttime routine as essential to their success. Stories abound of individuals who have transformed their approach to the end of the day, finding that a dedicated period to unwind and detach from the pressures of work has led to increased clarity, improved problem-solving abilities and a surge in creative output.

READ: These 5 CEOs Are Launching Colorado’s Start Up Sector to New Heights

practical steps to a better night’s rest

For those seeking to enhance their nighttime routines, the journey begins with simple, actionable steps:

  1. Digital detox: Allocating the last hour before bed as a screen-free time can significantly improve sleep quality.
  2. Relaxation techniques: Practices such as meditation, reading or light stretching can signal to the body that it’s time to wind down.
  3. Environment optimization: Ensuring the sleep environment is conducive to rest, with comfortable bedding, minimal noise and optimal temperature, can make a substantial difference.

The role of sleep consultants

In an era where business professionals are increasingly seeking personalized solutions to their challenges, the field of sleep consultancy is gaining prominence. Sleep consultants offer tailored advice and strategies to improve sleep quality, drawing on a wide range of disciplines from behavioral psychology to nutrition.

The Sleep Sherpa, a Colorado-based integrative sleep consultant, exemplifies this trend, providing individuals with the tools they need to transform their nighttime routines and, by extension, their productivity and creativity.

The bottom line

As Colorado’s business community continues to navigate the complexities of modern work life, the importance of nighttime routines remains clear. By prioritizing sleep and establishing rituals that encourage rest and renewal, professionals can unlock new levels of performance and innovation. It’s time to view our evenings not just as the end of the workday but as the foundation for tomorrow’s success.


Chad Livingston, a seasoned entrepreneur and certified integrative sleep consultant, has dedicated his career to the intersection of wellness, personal achievement, and entrepreneurial success. With a background that spans over two decades in landscaping and business/professional consulting, Chad has been at the forefront of creating and nurturing face-to-face connections and pioneering innovators in the landscape and concrete industries. His journey into the realm of sleep consultation was born our of his own battles with anxiety, sleepless nights, and the quest for balance between professional endeavors and family life.

Mental Health Diet: Gen XYZ’s Embrace of “Healthy” Snacks 

It’s fair to say that today’s reality has our minds ceaselessly bombarded with a barrage of information and stimuli, and to that end, the preservation of mental well-being has emerged as a topmost priority for many. With an amplified awareness of the intricate connection between the mind and the gut, Generations X, Y (Millennials) and Z have redirected their attention towards snacking; no longer is snacking solely about appeasing hunger — it has now become a means to nourish the brain. The trend is unmistakable: brain-boosting sustenance has taken center stage, revolutionizing our perception of snacking.

While generations X, Y, and Z exhibit distinct characteristics, they do share a common interest in health and wellness — an interest that reaches beyond physical well-being to encompass mental health as well. The understanding that what we consume can profoundly impact our mental state has never been more prevalent; these generations are inclined to gravitate towards snacks that offer them a cognitive advantage, whether it be enhancing focus, uplifting mood, supporting overall brain health, or ideally, all of the above.

READ: Bitewell’s ‘Food as Medicine’ Initiative is Empowering Employee Health Across Colorado

The discipline of snacking and mental well-being

The brain is an organ that expends tremendous energy, utilizing approximately 20% of the body’s caloric intake; consequently, it necessitates a continuous supply of fuel, and herein lies the significance of smart snacking

Certain nutrients have been proven to enhance brain function and promote mental well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseeds, for example, are vital for cognitive performance and mood regulation; likewise, antioxidants inherent in berries aid in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress within the brain, potentially mitigating the risk of psychiatric disorders.

Furthermore, complex carbohydrates — present in whole grains — provide a steady release of glucose, which is a fundamental requirement for optimal brain performance. Protein-rich snacks, such as nuts, seeds and protein chips, contain amino acids that function as precursors to neurotransmitters impacting mood and alertness. The intricate dance between diet and mental well-being involves a symphony of chemical reactions, hormonal equilibrium and the synergy of nutrients — stunningly complex while simultaneously offering up a very simple solution: You are what you eat, so eat plenty of natural goodness.

READ: Transform Your Mental Health in the Workplace — Strategies for a Healthier, Happier Experience

Purposeful snacking: the approach of Generations XYZ

Generations X, Y, and Z are now breaking free from conventional snacking habits in favor of more deliberate, mindful choices; they are increasingly substituting empty-calorie snacks with brain-boosting benefits.

Embracing superfoods

Blueberries, walnuts, and dark chocolate are gaining recognition as snack staples — not only are they dense in nutrients, but they also exert positive effects on brain health.

Prioritizing gut health

A growing comprehension exists that a healthy gut contributes to a healthy mind — fermented snacks like yogurt and kombucha, brimming with probiotics, are now favored to support the gut-brain axis.

Tailoring snacks to individual needs

Snack selections are contingent upon the mental benefits they can provide, whether it’s an energizing boost in the morning or a revitalizing pick-me-up after lunch. For example, snacks containing caffeine and L-theanine — such as matcha — offer sustained alertness without inducing jitters.

Opting for natural and organic choices

With mounting skepticism towards artificial additives, Gen XYZ is gravitating towards snacks containing natural and organic ingredients, free from preservatives as well as artificial colors or flavors.

READ: Plant-based Protein is Taking Root in Colorado’s Food Economy

Sustainability and ethics

The decisions regarding snacking are increasingly being influenced by ethical considerations and the environmental repercussions tied to food production; consequently, plant-based snacks that yield lower carbon footprints have garnered substantial demand.

Customization and personalization

With personalized nutrition making headway, snacks are being tailored to cater to individual dietary needs and health goals, including those pertaining to mental well-being.

The path ahead

The shift towards snacking for mental health is not some fleeting trend, but rather an understanding of how our body and mind are connected. We’re starting to grasp how complex our brains are, and what this awe-inspiringly powerful organ needs nutritionally. And, as we continue to look further into it, we’ll discover more.

The embrace of brain-boosting sustenance by Generations X, Y and Z signifies a promising sign of the times; it speaks to a broader movement towards intentional eating and adopting a holistic approach to health. By opting for snacks that not only satiate hunger but also support mental well-being, these generations are spearheading the charge toward creating a healthier, more mindful world.

Generations X, Y and Z all snack in a way that’s frankly, quite impressive. Not only do they know what tastes good, but they also know what’s good for their brain; they’re starting to eat with purpose and set a new standard. 

Bitewell’s ‘Food as Medicine’ Initiative is Empowering Employee Health Across Colorado

As the global workforce becomes more health-conscious, one solution gaining traction in the corporate realm is nutrition counseling, and a young Colorado company has developed a program businesses can add to their employee-benefits packages. 

Bitewell is a food-as-medicine marketplace that makes it easier to make healthy choices at mealtime. The company, which calls itself a “digital food farmacy,” works with employers to provide food health benefits for employees, reducing insurance premiums and improving health for users.  

READ: Empowering Colorado Employers — 4 Strategies to Optimize Health Care Benefits

“If you work with a progressive physician who writes a food prescription for you to address hypertension or diabetes, we can get that food to you,” bitewell CEO Samantha Citro Alexander said. “We have flipped the concept of pharmacy and filled it with food instead of pharmaceuticals.” 

Bitewell created a proprietary metric called the FoodHealth Score, which ranges from 0 to 10 and uses a simple gray, red, yellow and green color system. People who use the farmacy’s services will only see foods scored 6 or higher selected specifically for them.  

“When you get access through your health plan, we’ll pull information to create your health profile,” Alexander said. “The score generates when we combine the food profile and your profile. We’re only showing you food that’s going to help you achieve your goals and meet your needs.” 

Through bitewell, people shop for foods to prevent or treat diseases, and the company incentivizes members to consume food as medicine by rewarding healthy behavior change. The company fulfills and delivers food-as-medicine prescriptions and counsels patients on the use of food as medicine in addition to partnering with physicians on food-as-medicine treatments. 

Many consumers are aware of the link between fresh, healthier food and improved well-being. Of 2,054 U.S. adults surveyed for Deloitte’s Fresh Food as Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices report, 84% consider health and wellness a key factor when buying fresh food, and about 75% said they’re seeking more personalized nutrition.  

READ: Plant-based Protein is Taking Root in Colorado’s Food Economy

The Cleveland Clinic found that 80% of chronic disease is driven by diet and lifestyle, so helping people make better food choices benefits not only employees but also companies in the form of fewer workdays missed because of health issues. According to bitewell, Americans spend $3.75 trillion annually in preventable food-related diseases. 

Bitewell recently raised $4 million to help it expand its executive team, scale its sales division, fund research and build out its technology and infrastructure. The investment was led by Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Fund and Refinery Ventures, with participation from Harvest Ridge Capital, Mudita Venture Partners and others.  

“Bitewell fits perfectly within our thesis of investing in companies bettering human experiences, and we see their contribution through the lens of nutrition and food accessibility,” said Justin Driscoll, an associate at Lake Nona Sports & Health. “By pushing employers to offer food benefits that provide employees with healthier eating options and give them greater control, transparency and the capacity to monitor their own health, the company is well-positioned to redefine how the world thinks about health benefits.” 

Tim Schigel, managing partner of Refinery Ventures, said the timing is perfect for service bitewell offers because employers understand the importance of having healthy employees.  

“Healthy nutrition is the next step for companies looking to improve the lives of their staff,” he said.  

Fabrice Braunrot, co-founder of Harvest Ridge Capital, said bitewell is solving a big problem, and the total addressable market is huge.  

“We look to fund companies we think can grow and/or go public and have an exit,” Braunrot said. “One of the big financial drivers here is that there is so much money to be saved in unnecessary health care spending.” 

The fledgling company’s customers already have seen the benefits bitewell offers their employees. For example, the XFL football minor league provides the bitewell food farmacy to its athletes to help them achieve peak performance on and off the field, said Kerry Gordon, XFL’s vice president of health and safety.  

“We were proud to pilot bitewell’s system to present our players with food options customized to their needs to foster dynamic and positive health outcomes,” Gordon said.  

The company plans to move its business into 14,000 square feet at The Hub North in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood where about 35% of the space will be set aside for events and content creation, allowing bitewell to host conferences, webinars and networking events.  

In the remaining space, the company will build a wellness lab for employee preventative health care, a fully functional kitchen and mini food farmacies equipped with the company’s FoodHealth Score technology in every room. 

“It’s imperative that our space embodies our mission and ethos,” Alexander said. “Our goal is to transform health care from a sick care system to a well-care system with a focus on food as medicine.”  


Margaret JacksonMargaret Jackson is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly 25 years in the newspaper industry, including seven years as a business reporter for The Denver Post covering residential and commercial real estate. She can be reached at [email protected].

What Are the Safest Industries to Start Your First Business in 2023?

Do you have entrepreneurial dreams? Good for you! Going into business for yourself is exciting and challenging. It can also be very rewarding and profitable if you choose the right business at the right time. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have a “dream” already. Your dream might just be to get into business, period. This can actually be an advantage since you’ll be able to look at different business opportunities and choose the one that’s most likely to succeed. 

If you’re just getting started, then it’s smart to start your first business in a “safe” industry. Choosing the right industry for your first business will allow you to build your entrepreneurial skills and confidence while making money. Here are some of the safest industries to start your first business in 2023.

READ — Why It’s Important to Invest in Yourself, and 4 Ways to Do So

Digital Products 

Digital products are great for new entrepreneurs — they’re easy to create, require very little infrastructure to sell, and don’t require any supplies or overhead. They create passive income because once you’ve created a product, you can sell it over and over again. You’ll never run out of stock or worry about supply chain issues! 

There are lots of platforms out there that allow you to sell digital products. If you sell on a marketplace, you might not even need to maintain your own website. 

Print-On-Demand Items 

If you’re great at coming up with eye-catching designs or clever jokes, you can start a print-on-demand business, selling all kinds of items, like t-shirts and mugs. Print-on-demand businesses are great for new entrepreneurs because you don’t have to take the risk of keeping lots of stock on hand — you only produce what you sell. 

Professional Services 

Many entrepreneurs start off by selling their own skills. Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, social media manager, artist, or virtual assistant, your first business can involve nothing more than you and your laptop. You can even sell your skills in areas like travel, home organization, or animal care, which are growing in popularity. 

Wellness & Personal Training 

People are becoming more health-conscious and they want to improve their lives through better wellness. If you are encouraging and knowledgeable, you can start a business as a personal trainer or wellness coach.

Right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. People are struggling with the impact of unstable politics, the fallout of the pandemic, tech overload, and a looming recession. They need someone to help hold them accountable for their health goals so they can feel better and improve their lives. A fitness or wellness business can be a great way to start your journey as an entrepreneur. 

Food Truck 

Although it requires more in terms of start-up funding than some other entry-level businesses, a food truck is a great choice for foodie entrepreneurs. Starting a food truck is much more affordable than starting a restaurant and can turn a great profit. 

Since food trucks usually have a small menu, food costs are reduced. It’s easy to drive a food truck wherever there are customers, whether it’s a wedding, a festival, or just the side of the road near office buildings and construction sites. Food trucks are fun, popular, and relatively easy to start up. 

Start a Business That Aligns with Your Skills and Interests 

Even if you’re looking for the safest industries to start your own business instead of a passion project, it’s still important to start a business that aligns with your skills and interests. Not only will this help you offer the best possible products and services, but it will also help you keep going when things get tough. When considering which business to start, be sure to consider all your relevant skills. 

Being in business isn’t for the faint of heart. If you start a business in an industry you enjoy, however, you’ll be more likely to continue through the difficult moments and persevere.

READ — Avoiding Founder Burnout: A Guide on Fighting Hustle Culture for Entrepreneurs

Minimize Your Risks to Maximize Your Profits 

Starting a business is always a risk. You don’t really know how successful you’re going to be until you try. Your success will depend on a lot of factors, including your persistence, skills, and a bit of luck. However, you can always increase your odds of success by reducing your risks in any way you can. 

The safest industries to start your own business involve minimal or no overhead. Once you’ve started to earn money from your first businesses, you can use what you earn to start another business, maybe one with more startup costs and more potential profit. 

If you’re ready to make 2023 your best year yet, now’s the time to start thinking about your first business as an entrepreneur!


Andrew Deen HeadshotAndrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in a number of industries from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.

Guest Column: Denver Physician Details 5 Common Medicare Mistakes

For those already on Medicare or anyone who is about to be eligible, one of the best times to reevaluate your plan or sign up for one is during the Medicare Annual Enrollment (AEP) Period, October 15 – December 7. It is during this time that Medicare plan beneficiaries can sign up for benefits, reevaluate coverage, make changes to existing coverage, or adjust policies for Original Medicaresupplemental drug coverage, or Medicare Advantage.

Medicare beneficiaries include persons ages 65+, under 65 and receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for a certain amount of time, or under 65 and with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Those who have participated in open enrollment previously know there are a lot of choices when it comes to Medicare. While the most important might be choosing to take charge of your Medicare decisions in the first place, it’s also a good idea to make sure the choices you make aren’t costing you unnecessarily.

READ — 7 Tips for Choosing Your Health Insurance in 2023

Here are five common mistakes that you don’t want to make during this time – and the reasons why.

1. Don’t allow automatic plan renewal to make your choice for you.

Your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan renews every year on January 1, unless you decide to change it. Automatic renewal may make your life easy, but it might not be the best way to make your Medicare decisions. This is especially true if your health care needs have changed in the last year, if you are taking more medications, if you have wished you’d had more benefits, (such as dental or hearing), or if your finances have changed – to name a few considerations. Plans also may change what they cover from year to year, including what you will pay in deductible, premium, copay or coinsurance amounts. This information will be contained in the Annual Notice of Change, which is discussed next.

 2. Don’t ignore your plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC).

Typically delivered to mailboxes by September 30, ANOC letters ensure that plan members have up-to-date plan information before AEP begins. This document explains any changes in your plan benefits and costs for the upcoming year. The changes may affect your health care and your budget, so it’s important to know what to look for in the ANOC, as it can help you decide early whether to keep your current plan or alert you that you may want to look for a new one during the AEP.

3. Don’t base your plan choice on the premium alone.

It is easy to focus only on premiums when looking at Medicare costs, but it’s a good idea to look at the big picture, too.

A plan could have a low monthly premium, then charge a medical or prescription drug deductible or have higher copayments. You might prefer this if you rarely go to the doctor and don’t take many medications, but a plan like this could be expensive if you use health care services often, even with the low premium.

It’s important to think, too, about all the out-of-pocket costs as well as your healthcare needs when choosing a plan. For example, many Medicare Advantage plans offer routine vision, hearing, and dental coverage, and certain plans also provide fitness membership benefits at no additional cost.

4. Don’t pick a plan because your spouse, relative or friend has it.

You might count on a friend’s word when deciding what new restaurant to try, but a Medicare plan is a personal choice. What works for one person may not fit with the needs of another. You will probably have several plans to choose from, so it’s a good idea to look at all your options, keeping your healthcare needs and budget at the forefront of your mind. The website suggests considering seven things when choosing a plan that’s just right for you: cost, coverage and benefits, any other coverage you hold, prescription drugs, doctor and hospital choice, quality of care and travel coverage.

5. Don’t assume that you don’t qualify for help with Medicare costs.

Several programs offer financial assistance with Medicare premiums and other costs. In some cases, Medicare Savings Programs may pay Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments if you meet certain conditions.

There are four kinds of Medicare Savings Programs: Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB); Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB); Qualifying Individual (QI); and Qualified Disabled & Working Individuals (QDWI). If you qualify for a QMB, SLMB, or QI program, you automatically qualify to get extra help paying for Medicare drug coverage. You may want to look into them, even if you think you might not be eligible.

For full information on enrolling in Medicare plans, you can review the CMS website at or call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program office ( to discuss your situation.


Lewis2018Dr. Matthew Lewis is the Senior Medical Director of Primary Care with New West Physicians, part of Optum.

Plant-based Protein is Taking Root in Colorado’s Food Economy

When Gov. Jared Polis signed a declaration proclaiming March 20th as “MeatOut Day” in Colorado in 2021, the backlash was furious and often hyperbolic. 

Cattlemen decried the call for a meat-free day as near-blasphemy, as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts retaliated with a competing “Meat on the Menu Day.” Republican State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld County went so far as to describe it as “just one more attack against my county.” 

Regardless of the political kerfuffle, the plant-based protein industry has gained momentum in Colorado — and doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.

READ — Rising Food Costs Create Unique Challenges for Hunger-Focused Agencies

Take Meati Foods in Boulder. Founded in 2017, the company closed on a whopping $150 million Series C fundraising round in July 2022 and has raised more than $250 million to date.  

Meati’s mushroom root-based products mimic steak and chicken and sell out like Phish concerts: The first direct-to-consumer push in early 2022 was gone in less than 24 hours. “The last few drops have sold out in single-digit minutes,” says Tyler Huggins, CEO and co-founder. 

With 200—and counting—employees, Meati is building the Mega Ranch, a 115,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Thornton that will be shipping product in late 2022. Huggins anticipates breaking ground on a Giga Ranch next year in a yet-to-be-announced location. The facility will be capable of producing “hundreds of millions of pounds of Meati annually,” he notes. 

“Consumers today want clean, simple ingredients, terrific flavor and great nutrition,” Huggins says. “Meati uniquely delivers a whole-food protein that checks the box on exceptional flavor and texture, minimal processing and ingredients, an unmatched nutrition profile, all while being sustainably made.” 

Meati’s not alone. Numerous Colorado companies are riding the wave of investor and consumer interest in the sector. 

In Aurora, MycoTechnology has raised more than $200 million to date as it continues to scale its manufacturing of fungi-based foods and ingredients. Its initial portfolio of flavor-enhancing products has expanded to proteins as the company launched the Goodside Foods brand in early 2022. 

Marika Azoff, corporate engagement specialist with The Good Food Institute (GFI), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit advocating for plant-based proteins and other sustainable foods, says such investments are reflective of a coming revolution in food manufacturing. By 2050, GFI projects alternative meat-based protein retail sales will be between $250 billion and $500 billion. In 2021, that number was $5.6 billion. 

READ — Durango business turns the tables on food waste

It’s about health and sustainability—and efficiency. “It takes nine calories to feed a chicken to get one calorie of chicken meat,” notes Azoff. “When we’re growing animals, we have to grow crops to feed animals. Inherently, it’s less efficient than just growing crops to feed humans.” 

Electric transportation garners six times the investment dollars that go into alternative proteins “even though transportation contributes less greenhouse gas emissions than the global livestock population does,” she adds. 

A Boston Consulting Group report concluded that dollar-for-dollar investment in meat and dairy alternatives resulted in three times more greenhouse gas reductions than green cement technology—and 11 times more than zero-emission cars. 

Azoff says Colorado has the makings of a plant-based hub, citing Boulder’s prominence in natural foods and CSU’s expertise in agriculture and fermentation as key ingredients. The cluster has a critical mass that’s attracting entrepreneurs from elsewhere. 

Case in point: Annie Ryu founded The Jackfruit Company after visiting India in 2011 when she was a pre-med student at Harvard University. She discovered jackfruit, the fig relative native to southern India that’s the largest fruit on Earth, topping out at 120 pounds. “At the time, it was going to waste because there was not a commercial supply chain to get it to market,” says Ryu, who says she sees it as “a multi-billion-dollar opportunity.” 

Instead of attending Harvard Medical School, Ryu opted to focus on The Jackfruit Company. The business, which Ryu relocated from Boston to Boulder in 2016, sources jackfruit from thousands of small family farms in India and sells its products to 6,000 stores nationally. 

In 2020, the company unveiled the jack & annie’s brand with a catalog of jackfruit-based nuggets, meatballs, buffalo wings and breakfast sausage. Both brands are based out of the Boulder headquarters and work with a network of manufacturing partners in the U.S. and India. “The Jackfruit Company targets vegans and vegetarians, and jack & annie’s really speaks more to meat eaters, meat reducers and flexitarians,” Ryu says. 

Growing jackfruit

There’s a good reason for the dual-brand strategy. “There is no other plant more similar to meat just in the way it grows,” she notes. “So we’re able to prepare foods that are more similar to meat in taste and texture than the other offerings that are available, but are also much less processed. That really goes to the heart of a lot of the concern with plant-based meat: ‘Is it really good for me? Is it too processed?’” 

Now 25 employees, The Jackfruit Company closed on a $23 million Series B funding round in late 2021 “for new product development and to continue scaling up the team to support what we’re doing,” Ryu says. “The jack & annie’s brand is the focus for us in expansion, because that’s the main consumer audience.” 

Ryu moved her company to Colorado after meeting kindred spirits during a visit. “It was so amazing to me. This place is full of people who are so passionate about natural foods and have experience with building natural foods companies. It was just a really logical place to lay down some roots and start expanding from, because as a new, rapidly growing company, it’s more characterized by the people than anything else.” 

On the demand side, she notes that the plant-based sector is gaining traction largely due to reasons relating to health and climate change. “Deforestation is one of the top 10 contributors to global warming, and we are reforesting with one of the most sustainable plants,” Ryu says. Jackfruit “is thriving all over southern India, and not because of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers. There’s no reason to use any of that on a crop you can’t sell.” 

“It’s hard to overstate the impacts of a shift to a more just food system in terms of climate, the environment, public health and animal welfare,” echoes Manny Rutinel CEO and co-founder of Climate Refarm, a Denver-based public benefit startup that leverages carbon credits to help schools and hospitals adopt plant-based proteins. “Meat is just unbelievably inefficient in terms of the amount of emissions it produces, the amount of land that it requires, the amount of water it requires, the amount of grain it requires to produce all this meat.” 

READ — Top Company 2022: Startups

Rutinel added: “Instead of imposing a cost on the externalities, we’re trying to impose a benefit on the correct choice.” 

While MeatOut Day might have gone over like a rubbery boiled steak, even JBS—the world’s largest meatpacker with a substantial presence in Greeley—has a plant-based subsidiary in the form of Planterra Foods, the Lafayette-based maker of Ozo-branded, meat-free bacon, chicken and beef alternatives.  

Look at it as something of a hedge: Annual per-capita beef consumption in the U.S. dipped from 85 pounds in 1972 to 59 pounds in 2022, even as per-capita meat consumption rose by about 15 percent. 

“Seeing meat and seafood companies getting into this space is encouraging, and I think, really smart,” GFI’s Azoff says. “It makes good business sense for them to do so.”

As Boomers Age, Developers Ramp Up for ‘Gray Tsunami’

Baby boomers have influenced trends for more than seven decades and continue to do so as more enter their senior years. And the impact is significant when it comes to senior living communities.

Born from 1946 to 1964, the oldest of the post-World War II generation is now estimated at about 73 million people in the U.S., with the oldest boomers turning 76 this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Knowing how many boomers there are — and where they’re located — is important as lawmakers decide how to spend money on public services. It’s also important for companies that develop senior living properties and facility operators to understand what’s ahead so they can plan for it.

But because of COVID-19-driven supply chain issues, labor shortages and rising cost of building materials, developers significantly slowed construction of senior living communities from 2020 to 2021. Seniors also left facilities in droves during the pandemic to avoid contracting the virus, which spreads rapidly in communal settings.

“We’ll start to see the impact of baby boomers in 2027 to 2028,” said John Sweeney Jr., leader of National Senior Housing at CBRE. “We do have some time to prepare for that. But if we don’t build for five or six years, it’s going to be a problem. Demand will ramp up in the latter part of this decade.”

In Colorado, it’s not just people getting older that’s impacting the number of seniors in the state. People moving here to be closer to their children also are driving the number of older adults up. Last year, the Front Range gained 28,000 new residents from in-migration, according to data from the Colorado State Demography office.  

READ — Telehealth to Play Key Role as Geriatric Population Soars

While new senior living projects were on hiatus during the pandemic, developers are starting to ramp up construction. There are 10 projects in the works along Colorado’s Front Range, but challenges such as labor, material and financing costs continue to impact margins, said John Hauber, CEO of Haven Senior Investments. 

“Haven Senior Investments continues to get calls from investors around the country inquiring about the senior housing market, and we’ve seen an uptick in the interest in the active adult development environment,” Hauber said. “Developers are adapting to the coming wave of aging baby boomers with a new crop of living developments. Capital providers also are waking up to the varied needs of this cohort.” 

But as times change, so do the expectations and tastes of people looking for communities where they can comfortably age.  

“Developers are experimenting with nontraditional models such as intergenerational communities. Everybody is trying to figure out the secret sauce — what the senior housing consumer wants now and in the future,” Hauber said. “Developers must design communities that cater to what boomers want. What we believe they want is a sense of community, activities and a feeling that they are living a purposeful life.”

READ — Aging Smarter: Denver Doctor Gives Tips for Better Brain Health

There are seven types of senior living facilities:

Independent living: Designed for seniors who want the benefits of a community while maintaining freedom.

Residential care homes: For people who don’t need 24-hour assistance but may need some help with daily activities such as transportation or medication distribution.

Respite services: Support for the caregiver whose family member wants to stay in their home.

Assisted living: Provides on-call staff, trained chefs and scheduled activities for people who need a little more help.

Memory care: Round-the-clock care in a safe and secure environment for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Skilled nursing: Staffed with in-house nurses, doctors and other medical professionals to provide 24-hour medical care and a high level of assistance for people with medical conditions.

Retirement communities: Vary from age-restricted active adult communities to leisure communities that provide great amenities and social platforms.

The senior housing sector that’s seeing the most activity are active adult communities — a sort of hybrid between multifamily and senior housing.  

The U.S. active adult (55+) community market was estimated at $565.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $587.7 billion this year, according to Grand View Research. It’s anticipated it will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 4.01% between 2022 and 2032 because of the increasing demand from baby boomers, reduction in the stigma of retiring and growing interest of investors. 

In general, new senior living facilities, whether they’re independent or assisted living, are more modern with higher ceilings and targeted amenities that seniors want, Sweeney said.  

Those looking for a senior living community for either themselves or a loved one have a lot to sift through. Do they want independent or assisted living? Memory care or skilled nursing?  

Hiring a company like Denver-based Colorado Senior Care Advisors to act as an advocate can help with navigating that process.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic saw people pulling back from senior living facilities, Colorado Senior Care owner Rick Bloeman said the industry is bouncing back.  

Colorado Senior Care Advisors meets with its clients to perform a physical evaluation and a need assessment, Bloeman said. Things like age, diseases or other vulnerabilities that must be taken care of over the next five to 10 years are part of the equation. 

The company also conducts continual evaluations of the communities in metro Denver to provide its clients with the most recent information available. Factors it considers include location, cost, levels of care available, cleanliness, amenities and activities, medical care and caregiver/patient ratios.  

“We look at staffing and the health care — you’re going in there for the care,” Bloeman said. “If you have one person trying to take care of 15 to 20 people at night and two need to go to the bathroom at the same time, what are you going to do? People are paying for the help, but they can’t get the care they need. 

“Any place can have a beautiful chandelier, but what’s behind the curtains is what counts.” 

Caregivers’ compensation and turnover both for caregivers and executive directors should be taken into consideration when evaluating a senior living facility, whether it’s memory care or independent or assisted living. 

“The health care is the most important piece of the puzzle,” said Bloeman, who started the company 12 years ago because his sister needed help and he was frustrated with the system.  

For some seniors, moving into a retirement community is an option. For others, home care is the solution. Either way, it’s expensive and needs to be part of everybody’s financial plan. 

Jody Gastfriend, a principal with national health-care research and consulting firm Health Management Associates, said doing research about what’s available and ways to pay for it before you actually need to move into a senior community is a critical part of ensuring you or your family member is cared for in a stable environment. 

“People need to plan ahead financially to pay for long-term care, whether it’s at-home care or in a senior living facility,” said Gastfriend. “Get long-term care insurance or apply for Medicaid or save for it. The sooner you learn about it, the better off you are.” 

Colorado’s Attorney General Warns of the Dangers of Heavy Metals in Baby Food

In the winter of 2021, a congressional report exposing four major baby food manufacturers for allowing unsettling concentrations of heavy metals in their products was made public. The Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy found these companies’ infant and toddler food to contain 91 times the maximum arsenic concentration, 69 times the safe cadmium limit, 177 times the maximum lead concentration, and 5 times the safe mercury limit. To comprehend the severity of the problem, it is important to note that the maximum allowable level for arsenic is 10 ppb, for cadmium and lead, 5 ppb, and for mercury, 2 ppb. 

Shortly after the investigation results became available, the Food and Drug Administration devised a strategy meant to minimize the content of toxic metals in baby food, known as the Closer to Zero plan. However, it is unnecessarily slow and lengthy and has numerous shortcomings, which prompted Colorado’s Attorney General, Phil Weiser, to join a coalition of 23 other attorney generals. They petitioned the FDA and urged the agency to take more aggressive measures regarding the dangerous level of heavy metals in most baby food on the market. 

“The FDA can and should act quickly to stop manufacturers that have allowed toxic heavy metals into the food we give our children when they are at their most vulnerable,” Weiser said. 

The agency has indeed failed to properly regulate toxic contaminants in baby food. It has set a maximum allowable limit only for arsenic in one type of product – infant rice cereal. Even so, the limit, which is 100 ppb, is considered too high for infants and toddlers by medical specialists and health organizations. Perhaps the most alarming concerning the FDA’s Closer to Zero plan is that it would be completed in 2024, which is unacceptable in the context where children need clean and safe food immediately. “They found evidence that we have arsenic, lead, and other dangerous metals in baby food. The FDA has the authority to oversee baby food and make sure it’s safe. We need them to use that authority,” said Weiser. 

Infants and toddlers are significantly more vulnerable to the health impact of toxic exposure, as ingesting food with heavy metals during their first years of life can greatly increase their risk of autism spectrum disorder. Children who have been fed tainted baby food are also more likely to struggle with other neurodevelopmental disorders and problems, including a lower IQ, behavioral abnormalities, cognitive damage, ADHD, learning disabilities, and speech impairment. Today, 1 in 44 children develop autism in the United States. Moreover, the incidence of the disorder has increased to 2% from 2007 to 2012.  

Baby Formula Manufacturers Facing a Lawsuit Following the Death of a Colorado Infant 

In February 2022, the Abbott facility in Illinois, which manufactured the popular baby formula Similac, was closed due to the presence of bacteria. This sparked a thorough investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, soon after the plant was shut down, a nationwide shortage of baby formula occurred, causing over 40% of the baby formula supplies nationwide to be out of stock. Still, by June 28, approximately 378 million bottles were secured. While the situation has improved considerably, parents continue to struggle, as the amount of baby formula in stock dropped below 60% in July. 

Around the same time, Octavia Patton-Ashley, whose infant son died in Colorado, filed a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, which manufactures another well-known baby formula — Enfamil. She alleges that her baby’s necrotizing enterocolitis, a highly fatal condition in which part of the intestine dies, resulted from the medical staff feeding him Similac and Enfamil formula. The lawsuit argues that baby formula is inherently dangerous for premature babies and should come with clear warnings, which the manufacturers failed to provide. Born in early February 2021 at Children’s Hospital Colorado at 34 weeks, the infant passed away roughly four months later. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.  

The plaintiff also claims that baby formula manufacturers withheld information about the risks from doctors, preventing them from making good recommendations on how it should be used. There are multiple studies that support the connection between necrotizing enterocolitis and baby formula, such as one from the  Journal of Pediatrics. It found that while only 3% of the children in the human milk group developed the condition, a whopping 21% in the baby formula group came to struggle with it. The issue of heavy metals in baby food, as well as in baby formula, is acute and ongoing. Minimizing the content of toxic contaminants in these products should be the FDA’s main priority at the moment. 


Jonathan PicJonathan Sharp is Chief Financial Officer at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. The law firm, which specializes in toxic exposure, is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Some of the responsibilities of Jonathan Sharp are financial analysis and case evaluation. By virtue of his vast experience in assessing and reviewing toxic exposure cases, he has acquired valuable knowledge about the impact of heavy metals on children’s health and is always up to date with the latest news on this subject.