In Memoriam: Jeremy Thaler

The natural products industry has lost a generous and ambitious leader with the passing of Jeremy Thaler. Along with his wife, Connie Potter, Thaler founded Once Again Nut Butter in 1976, the culmination of a life dedicated to the concept of community on multiple levels.

Thaler was no stranger to worker-owned cooperatives. Prior to founding Once Again Nut Butter, he was involved in co-ops in California, Wisconsin, and New York. In New York, the Clear Eye Distribution that Jeremy and Connie also founded distributed to other co-ops all over the New England states. In fact, it was this dedication that gave Once Again Nut Butter its name, with it being said that “once again,” Thaler was founding a co-op.

Once Again Nut Butter gave Thaler the chance to express his dedication to community through its employee ownership model, says Gael Orr, communications manager at Once Again. One of the points that he emphasized was creating good jobs with fair wages in rural locations, and his work at the company enabled him to do just that. Orr says that Thaler once explained his concept community to her as “not just employees, but the community of Nunda,” where Once Again is based. In time, Thaler extended his vision even beyond the city level, subsidizing the organic peanut crop for its first five years in the U.S. In addition, his dedication to organic crops made him a trailblazer, with Once Again being the first certified organic peanut butter company in the country. Even national borders couldn’t constrain Thaler’s vision of community, with him founding 11 sesame seed co-ops in Nicaragua that now sustain over 2000 growers.

Jeremy Thaler’s contributions to the industry are still felt on a local, national, and international scale. Says Orr, “he was very much a visionary, he was not afraid to pull the trigger on a decision, he put everything he had on the line for his company…he was definitely a big picture thinker.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2014, (online 10/14/2014)