This piece was originally published in Grid's July 2016 issue.
Wholesome Food in a Jar
By John Haddad
Photos by Fred Turko
Sometimes opportunity strikes when you least expect it. A business can germinate from a simple act of kindness. Fresh and local food, packed in a mason jar and shared with friends, has become a recipe for a success.
Owner of Daily Jars, Liz Fishman, got the cooking and nurturing genes from her grandmother, with whom she had a close relationship while growing up in New York. A leukemia and breast cancer survivor, her grandmother started baking challah bread for fellow survivors of cancer well into her 80s and baked 30,000 “loaves of hope” over the years.
At age 10, Fishman stopped eating meat and was ostensibly a vegetarian for 20 years, with a diet heavy on carbs and dairy. When she had her first child, she reduced her grain and dairy input and felt better physically than she had in years. And when she experienced protein cravings during her second pregnancy, she added meat back to her diet.
Fishman started examining her own diet in more detail when her kids struggled with some food issues and tried the Institute of Functional Medicine’s Elimination Diet. Users eliminate all of the top eight food allergens, including gluten, egg, dairy, soy, beef, peanuts, corn, shellfish, and cane sugar and then bring them back one at a time to isolate potential problems. She joined a support group with others on the same diet and they shared the challenges of making food from scratch and learning new ways to cook with a restricted group of ingredients.
Fishman loved to cook and had been scratch cooking with her kids’ dietary restrictions in mind for years when she started making extra meals for other members of the support group. When the support group ended, Fishman got such positive reinforcement from friends and other entrepreneurs that she decided to try to make her cooking into a business called Daily Jars. Like her grandmother before her, Fishman is making a difference through feeding people good food.
Working with The Apple Cart, a local food business consultancy, and other local resources, she moved from cooking at home to cooking in Pizza Tonight’s commercial kitchen. The Apple Cart’s Stephanie Ganz sees Daily Jars as helping fulfill an important need: “I think it’s something that will really help solve the issue of people wanting to eat nutritious, wholesome meals in a very convenient and affordable way.”
Customers often order a week’s worth of meals and snacks for Sunday or Monday delivery, with Daily Jars doing most of its cooking on Sundays to fill these orders.
Sourcing local and organic when possible, Fishman supports local farms like Agriberry, Amy’s Garden, and Victory, as well as Ellwood Thompson’s. Menus change weekly and seasonally, and feature such items as Pumpkin Pie Dip with Apple, Vegan Ranch Dip with Veggies, Seasoned Mixed Nuts with Fruit, Roasted Pepper Hummus with Veggies, Almond Coconut Bars, Carrot Almond and Chicken Vegetable soup, Basil Mint Chicken with Quinoa and Spinach and Grapes salads, Lemon Cranberry muffins, and Raw Chocolate Mousse.
Fishman, a former art teacher isn’t just concerned with the nutritional value of her dishes. “It’s important to me that food is beautiful and appeals to all of your senses,” she says. Packing her soups and salads in mason jars shows off the colors of the fresh ingredients in a sustainable way. And it’s through these daily jars that her customers also sustain their health.