By Julian Montijo
When I met Peggy Aker, owner and founder of Macro Mamas, at the Ithaca Farmers Market on a sunny Saturday morning, there was already a line of people waiting to order from the stand. Her vegan, macrobiotic meals are packed with energizing, local, and in-season ingredients, making Macro Mamas one of the most beloved vendors at the market, and at GreenStar, where Macro Mamas' Macro Meals and Peanut Lime Noodles can be found in the Deli.
Macro Mamas has seen immense growth since its founding in 1992, with its farm-fresh philosophy right on time and aligned with the macrobiotics movement. The macrobiotic way, similar to a farm-to-table diet, emphasizes eating locally and in keeping with the season, while also avoiding processed foods. With seasonal, energy-dense meals as its focal point, Macro Mamas represents a collaboration of local farmers and people who love to cook, working both with and for the community.
Macro Mamas has its roots in Hector — the business bloomed in Peggy's own garden. "I'm totally inspired in the garden," she said. It was there she began to grow a lot of her own food, to cultivate what she needed for a macrobiotic diet. Following her lifelong passion for cooking and gardening, she decided to make a career out of it, gardening five days a week and selling her produce at the weekend farmers market. From there, she began designing and selling meals using only the produce she grew. As the Macro Mamas stand grew in popularity and the demand for her meals became greater than her own garden could provide for, Peggy began to work with local organic farmers. At this point, she has a great relationship with the farmers, enabling Macro Mamas to have a year-round supply of fresh, seasonal ingredients.
By Kristie Snyder,
Chad Smith has been cooking since he was 12, and he's excited about bringing GreenStar shoppers the best hot-bar in town — all-natural, organic, local, fresh, tasty, and ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
As GreenStar's new West-End Store Deli Manager, Chad's focus as a manager is on customer service and providing delicious, healthy, and organic food choices. Chad came to GreenStar from Cornell Dining, and after a year and a half as Assistant Manager he was promoted to the Manager position. New to the world of co-ops when he joined GreenStar, it was the cooperative atmosphere that attracted him. "People choose to work here — they enjoy it, and everyone seems to be happy here," he said.
Chad, working with new Central Kitchen Manager Matt McLaren, plans to increase the amount of organic and local ingredients in the Deli's offerings, both in the service case and on the hot bar. "Right now the salad bar is all-organic," he said. "The challenge is to move to all-organic on the hot bar while keeping it affordable. Membership is asking for it, so we're trying to go in that direction."
Look for some changes to the hot bar coming as soon as this month, as recipes will be added and updated for the summer to showcase local farms and local products. "We'd like to make the connection from the customer to the farmer through our deli case," Chad said.
By Julian Montijo
In the back of the 4-H building on Lower Creek Road, in a small kitchen, Chris Kirby, founder of Ithaca Hummus, is boiling his next batch of garbanzo beans. The beans, once cooled, will be blended, with fresh-squeezed lemons and garlic, into hummus, then packaged by hand and sent directly to stores. One of Ithaca's most unique aspects is its ability to bring fresh products directly to the consumer. Chris Kirby created Ithaca Hummus two years ago to do just that.
Chris's story is unique in that it doesn't begin with hummus. After attending culinary school, he worked as a chef at a wine bar in Austin, TX. There he learned that he did not want to start his own restaurant because of the intense time commitment of a chef's work, which leaves little room for a personal life. Chris decided that he could instead use his culinary background to start his own business, where he could have flexible hours and a personal life. He applied to Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, planning to graduate in two years and start this business. He will graduate this month.
While at Cornell, with the idea that he wanted to create a product focused on freshness as a priority, Chris found that hummus naturally has a fairly long shelf life. He also discovered that the large companies Sabra and Tribe controlled nearly the entire share of the market. As consumers were beginning to grow more familiar with hummus and learn more uses for the product, Chris saw a higher demand for "just-made quality hummus attached to a brand." And so Ithaca Hummus began.
New in the Deli
|New in the Deli|
Planning a party for your 2015 grad? Call the Deli for all of your celebration needs.
I can't believe it's June already! This month is a big one for families of 2015 graduates. Anyone planning a party? Give the GreenStar Deli a call to pre-order one of your favorite salads for the event. We're in the process of revamping our catering menu, but you're welcome to call with questions about pricing or offerings. Let me walk you through our in-store fare. We've improved our service case selections — be sure to check out the raw and reheatable selections plus bulk items like olives and feta cheese. Moving on to the hot bar: we've expanded our selections and gone back to our theme days! You'll still see your favorites, plus new flavors added in. In the cheese case, you'll find some great new store-cut options: Queso Cojita crumble, Midnight Moon, and Double Gloucester, to name a few. If you see one you haven't tried yet, feel free to ask a Deli worker to cut some for sampling. We'll be happy to help!