Most folks know that Nancy’s Probiotic Food comes from Springfield Creamery in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where our family has been making quality dairy products for more than 60 years. It goes without saying, the person whose name is on every container played a very important role in our story. Nancy Van Brasch Hamren met our company’s founders, Chuck and Sue Kesey in 1969 and their friendship is still strong today.
HISTORY OF “NANCY’S YOGURT”
Growing up, Nancy was influenced by her grandmother, who’s enthusiasm for wellness was exceptional for the time. Nancy remembers wholesome breakfasts of scrambled eggs sprinkled with wheat germ, and sliced papaya with a big dollop of yogurt. “When you’re exposed to something at a young age like that, it’s not strange. It’s within the realm of things to be learned.”
Later, while living in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, Nancy embraced 1960’s counterculture and a flourish of new ideas. Within her community, people were questioning whether the things they’d been taught to believe were still validating, and the natural foods movement was an important part of that. Challenging commercial standards for American food, Nancy leaned into her grandmother’s unconventional values to establish a foundational diet that would support overall health. It was a time of compassion, love, peace, and goodwill, so sharing her ideals and working toward them with others came naturally.
In 1969, Nancy made the decision to skip going to Woodstock in favor of moving to Oregon where she helped her friend, Ken Kesey, by tending to his farm. She was deeply enriched during the time she spent there, learning how to care for animals and growing an organic garden.
Soon Ken’s brother and sister-in-law (Chuck and Sue Kesey) hired Nancy as their bookkeeper. Incidentally, her culinary experience with yogurt complemented Chuck’s scientific knowledge of probiotic cultures and with combined creativity and expertise, Springfield Creamery’s first batch of yogurt was made. Nameless, it was sold to local Co-ops. When stores called to place a new order, they were greeted with “Springfield Creamery, this is Nancy.” So, folks began saying, “give us some of Nancy’s Yogurt.”
NANCY’S YOGURT IN THE KITCHEN
Nancy and her grandmother knew that a diverse diet was the key to health, and the earlier you start, the better. Not only is it important to help kids establish good habits, but also to encourage adventurous eating so they can add beneficial complexity to their microbiomes.
If introducing kids to yogurt sounds a little challenging, Nancy has delicious tips for cooking intuitively and sneaking it into dishes they’ll love. Bright sauces made with yogurt, lemon, herbs, and garlic are a great way to interest kids in salmon and vegetables. Whether or not they like yogurt, they often like the taste of these things together. For something sweet, add cinnamon to Nancy’s Whole Milk Yogurt and spoon it over a bowl of mixed fruits. Everyone in your family can benefit from experimenting in the kitchen with a variety of nutritious ingredients. If you’re still feeling hungry, try a few more recipes with Nancy’s yogurt and sub your favorite fruits, veggies, and herbs: Strawberry Lime Trifle, Zucchini Squash Salad with Lowfat Basil Dressing, Rice And Veggie Bowl with Lentil Dahl.
Nancy’s formative years were full of vibrant life experiences that naturally carried over to her work at the Creamery. In addition to her role as bookkeeper, she found plenty of support as she pursued her interest in yogurt cultures and probiotics. Nancy often reflects on those early years, noting that Chuck and Sue were always true friends helping her grow.
After 44 years at Springfield Creamery, our dear friend Nancy Van Brasch Hamren did indeed retire. Nancy and her late husband, Jerry, also raised two daughters here in Oregon. She still grows plenty of nutritious foods in a thriving organic garden and loves cooking with her grandkids. Our family will forever be grateful Nancy took that “fortuitous fork in the road” over 50 years ago, joining us on this journey.
Live well in good health, keep learning and always stay in touch with old friends.
❤️ – The Kesey Family & all the folks at Springfield Creamery