Flavor of Georgia

Jaime Foster's nutty idea paid off with win

When Jaime Foster (BSA – Animal Science, ’99) arrived at the University of Georgia, her plan was to become a veterinarian and to save every animal that walked through her door.

“Little did I know that many of the classes that I was required to take, that had zero relevancy to becoming a veterinarian in my young mind, would be so valuable to my career in food manufacturing and the nut butter industry,” Foster said.

Those classes covered agribusiness, food science and plant production, and they have since played an important role in the success of Foster’s blossoming business.

Foster’s career path veered away from veterinary medicine. She and her husband, Harry Foster, started their own business, Georgia Grinders, in 2012.

Using her grandfather’s recipe from the 1970s, the Fosters launched Georgia Grinders with their first product, NaturAlmond. They refined the production process and expanded the manufacturing facility from 1,000 square feet in Chamblee, Georgia, to 6,000 square feet in order to add to a portfolio of simple nut butters. The business took advantage of Georgia’s statewide production of peanuts and pecans.

Experts in the field took notice, and the Fosters were named the grand prize winners of UGA’s 2017 Flavor of Georgia contest, organized by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. The winning product was their Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter. Jaime Foster called it an honor, and the recognition has helped sales quadruple since the win.

Georgia Grinders is a corporate sponsor of the Night of Hope Gala, an event to celebrate and support amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, research at Emory University. Jaime Foster’s mother recently passed away from ALS, and she said her mother’s 2011 diagnosis opened her eyes to life’s fragility. “Watching the quality of her life rapidly decline acted as a catalyst for leaving corporate America to follow my dreams of launching my own business,” said Jaime Foster. “There is no guarantee that the sun will shine tomorrow and life is way too short to live complacently.”

Georgia Grinders also supports DeKalb County Schools and its community-based vocational training program as well as The Giving Kitchen.

By Keith Farner

Harry (left) and Jaime Foster won UGA’s 2017 Flavor of Georgia contest.