The HVADC Cultivator
FFFA Peer Spotlight:
Vital Eats in Saratoga Springs creates award-winning, handcrafted sauces, condiments, spices and gourmet fare using only plant-based ingredients. Their product line, which includes plant-based jerky products, hot sauces, and dips are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and 100% free from any artificial preservatives, are sold at farmers markets, Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Market 32 and other national chains, as well as small-shop operations and online on the Vital Eats website and Amazon.
Vital Eats founding partners are related in more than one way … they are first-cousins Jude Goldman and Rueben Schwartz, who grew up cooking in the kitchen together. As young boys, the boys learned with their mothers and sisters about cooking home-grown, organic dishes from scratch. Both having backgrounds in creative cooking and visual arts, Goldman and Schwartz have always enjoyed both the art and tradition of cooking to create healthy and visually impressive foods. “Also, our grandfather is a great cook and mastered the art of mixing various ingredients and leftovers to create new dishes,” added Goldman, whose resume includes both working as a professional commercial photographer for an international publishing company for 15 years as well as launching and running a fermentation company operation for over a decade. Schwartz was a professional TV commercial producer for Time Warner/Spectrum. Though both cousins had varying career paths, they both also stayed close to their passions, working in restaurants throughout the years as well. The cousins’ professional talents are evidenced in the overall impressive aesthetic quality found on their Vital Eats Instagram page.
The Vital Eats product line includes unconventional, innovative and progressive foods, such as plant-based and live probiotic (meaning it’s been fermented to cultivate bacteria regarded as beneficial to the digestive track and immune system) Zen Jerky, made from GMO-free soy, garlic, ginger brine, soy sauce, teriyaki, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar “and secret spices.” Their Superfood Salsa, lists chia, flax, hemp seed, goji and acai among its ingredients, while the Woke chickpea-based Harissa Hot Sauce as well as King Kick Sriracha Ketchup use chilies and garlic mixed in for emphasis.
Goldman and Schwartz said they heard about the HVADC Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program through an email and recognized its value to their mission. “Our goals with the program are to complete it to increase our chances of getting grant money to expand our business,” said Goldman. “Also learning from our team advisors how to optimize and organize our daily operations.”
One goal Goldman laid out was to become an “incubator co-packing operation.” Goldman explained that this means Vital Eats would not only create value-added products for their own product lines but would also to produce products for other food producers. “We currently have prospective clients interested in producing their products with us. Once we have a mechanism in place to work on sourcing the raw materials, facilitating the backend of research and development of the food safety and production of products as well as the marketing and distribution of products, Vital Eats [would] become an integral incubator for other local food start-up businesses as well. This of course works cohesively with the value-added production.”
Goldman cited prohibitively exorbitant costs of start-up production which he says new food businesses can’t always afford, “as well as it being risky to produce that much product without the security of having a buyer lined up” as reasoning for a potential demand for his business model. “The economic value of such a community is obvious,” he added, as Vital Eats would be providing services for other small value addedvalue-added makers.
"Vital Eats brings a lighthearted sense of humor - and bold flavors - to this year’s FFFA cohort. HVADC is proud to help them achieve their program goals and know they will continue to add value to our community for years to come," Brianna Merrill, HVADC FFFA Program Coordinator.
For more information on the Farm and Food Funding Accelerator, please visit https://www.hvadc.org/fffa-about-the-program.
Logo & Product: Vital Eats
Vital Eats co-Owners: Brie Passano www.briephotography.com