My Story: Part 1
Up until a few months ago, only a handful of people know what I'm about to tell you.
That's because when you have a local business where people know you, you feel a kind of pressure to only tell the positive stuff. But clinging to an all-smiles version of events, as it turns out, is actually super boring AND a real passion killer.
So with that, here it is: the truth of our start and why my business Olive My Pickle Shouldn't Exist.
Halfway through 2010, we closed an awful chapter in our lives. Our business, a micro farm that we'd sunk everything into crashed and burned within a matter of days.
By "sunk everything into" I’m referring to minds, bodies, souls, hearts, dreams, plans, blood, sweat, tears, 5 years of time, all the savings, two houses, a 401K…. ALL OF IT.
By "crashed and burned" I mean that it ended badly and abruptly with our former partner. He was a person we thought of as a father figure and a friend... a charismatic mentor with a big vision we wanted to be part of. It turned out he was just a two-bit psychopath, playing a long con with a couple of idealistic kids (us) and he took us for everything we had.
That was September 2010.
We were in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the emotional damage was as bad the financial damage. In that time we lost our house and lived in motels for 4 weeks with a van full of our earthly belongings and our two little boys. True story.
That was October 2010. The big looming question as we sat in the motel was of course: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
The idea to sell pickles and olives at the farmer's market wasn't new. Quite the contrary, up til then it was actually a private joke.
When the road bumps at the farm started getting worse, we’d look at each other, shrug and say something like, “Well we could always sell pickles at the farmer’s markets...” (hardy har)
You see, we'd sold some of my homemade pickles at our farm stand and the customers always got really excited about them… but they were just an add on... a novelty... was there really enough there for an actual business?
As we sat in the motel room that October with no options, completely broke and emotionally shell shocked we knew we HAD to go for it.
An acquaintance generously gave us a $5,000 loan.
We rented a little house in the closest metro area to the farm which was Jacksonville, Florida and got to work.
We bought wooden barrels, made signs with a fat-tip Sharpie on old cabinet doors we found in a dumpster, bought ladles from restaurant supply and a pallet of really great olives that we sourced from an importer up North.
We registered our business online sitting outside the closest Starbucks (hey, free wifi) and camped out at the public library, aka our early company HQ.
I picked up some cucumbers from the state farmers market and turned them into pickles.
That little house had a tiny work shed and it was late-fall, so we used that as our first fermentation room. We also made hummus (another product from the farm stand) which we packaged up and put in a fridge for sale.So that was the real start of it all.
No business plan, no market research, no investment capital, definitely no health-centric mission statement. THAT'S how we got into the pickle business. It was only about survival and healing in the early days.
The pictures here are from our first market ever in November 2010, and a few more from the first months after that. After we got home from that first farmer’s market, we counted our money, cried together and felt some hope. The market had gone very well.
I grew up in Israel and ate hummus every single day. To me, hummus is nutritionally amazing for three reasons:
1. Chickpeas are full of soluble fiber, making them a prebiotic food. Prebiotics are high fiber foods that your gut needs to function at it's finest. A diet full of BOTH prebiotic and probiotic foods is the #1 way to optimize your gut health.
2. The fat: Hummus has both extra virgin olive oil and tahini as a primary ingredients. Both are are full of
Omega 3 fats, which are must-have brain and gut foods. High good-fat foods like hummus are filling and satisfying because of their fat content.
3.You can make your own hummus probiotic by mixing in pickle juice in place of the salt. Pickle juice is the BEST, EASIEST way to both salt your food AND make it probiotic. You can use any brine from your fermented products (it doesn't have to be just pickles, it can be kraut, kimchi or any other fermented vegetable.)
Start with a pound of dry chickpeas. Soak overnight, rinse and boil. Save the boiling juices as the liquid for your hummus. Hold back whole cooked chickpeas to garnish your hummus when serving. Makes a large batch.
Cooked chickpeas: 2 cups
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Tahini Paste
2-3 cloves of raw garlic
2 T Lemon Juice
1-2 T Pickle Juice
Hummus is a blank slate. Spice to your preference.
Grind it in your food processor and garnish with whole chickpeas, paprika and extra virgin olive oil.
Enjoy, and oh--you're microbiome is thanking you!
Let's start with the basics. What do we mean by 'the microbiome'? It's a word you may have heard of, with increasing new science books, articles and radio stories are covering this fascinating topic more and more.
Simply put, the microbiome is the vast colony (an ecosystem really) of bacterial cells that live in the body. Each and every living animal and human on the planet has a microbiota colony (or microbiome) living within them.
This colony grows, develops and colonizes over time, beginning when a baby is born and first exposed to her or his mother’s vaginal bacteria. The microbiome's foundational gut flora has completed its colonization by the time a child is about two, the more exposure he's had in that time, the more diverse (and therefore stronger) his microbiome becomes. (This is why it's not a good idea to protect young children from germs with anti-bacterial or keeping them from playing outside in the dirt.)
Our human genome is our unique genetic makeup which is 99.9% identical across the human race. Another way of putting it is that every human on the planet is 99.9% identical, genetically. The .01% of difference accounts for our physical difference (hair, eyes, etc.)
The microbiome is in fact, our second genome. Science is showing us that our microbiome is potentially more powerful and influential over our quality of life and health outcomes than our “first” genome.
The real differentiating factor between people is NOT human gene difference after all, but rather microbiome difference. Twins for example can be genetically identical and have vastly divergent microbiota composition which accounts for their differences in health outcomes.
Although it takes generations for human genes to change and adapt, the microbiome can change drastically within 24 hours based on factors such as stress, medication, antibiotics, sleep levels and most importantly the food we eat. What is the optimal food to eat to nurture and fortify your microbiome? You guessed it: prebiotic (high fiber) and probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, kraut, kimchi and olives.
Fermented foods contain a diverse bevy of probiotics, live good-guy bacteria that survive the trip through your digestive tract and get to work, conferring health benefits to you, their host. Think of them as backup support to the existing, foundational microbiota that dwells in your gut. When taking steps to intentionally eat for gut health, both diversity of bacterial strains and frequency of intake are important. Less important--and actually not recommended-- is consuming unnaturally large quantities of these foods. Following the "three pickles a day”in reasonable, serving size portions, as snacks or with meals is a healthy, lifestyle-approach to maintaining a healthy microbiome.
3 Tips + Hacks For Better Gut Health
1. Prebiotics are high fiber foods help the microbiome by cleaning and prepping the area, making it ready to receive the full benefits of a probiotic-rich foods.
2. Ideal fiber intake is 25-30 grams per day with 6-8 of this as soluble fiber. Most Americans eat less than half of this.
3. Half an avocado has about 5 grams of fiber, 1/3 of this is soluble. Plant based, whole foods like pickles, kraut, kimchi and olives are BOTH prebiotic AND probiotic foods. They are IDEAL when consumed daily.