Even Food Scientists have Farmer Market dreams! 

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Every day I get inquiries from people who want to bring their food product to market. They all tell me their stories about how they want to recreate their grandmother’s cookies or their Dad’s BBQ sauce. They all tell me they want to start off by selling their product at the local Farmers Market!

Well—I always kinda wondered, is there really a profit in selling artisan food products at the farmers market? If you were to add up the hours to make the product, plus anyone you pay to assist you, the commercial kitchen, the licenses, the insurance, Farmer’s Market fee—would it really end up being a profitable experience? Then of course is the bigger question of—do you want to give up your weekend sitting at stand when you could be out running, wine tasting, or walking around the farmers market yourself?

I decided to take the plunge and make my own product to sell at a farmers market. Why not? I am a food scientist with connections to every ingredient supplier in the U.S! I know where to get Non GMO Glucose, Xanthan gum and natural flavors with a 25 lb minimum! I also know how to write a nutrition label, make legal claims and jack up levels of protein and good fats to meet whatever the latest trend of the day is! I have powdered honey and dehydrated avocado in my lab!

Because I don’t want any liability lawsuits, I am going to go Cottage Industry (making a NON potentially hazardous food from a non commercialized kitchen). The Cottage Industry can only be used to make safe shelf stable products like popcorn, candy, standardized jams and baked goods. Anything that does NOT have to be refrigerated for safety is ok.

So I decided to do Marshmallows. One will be high caffeine+ high protein, the other will be high protein but no caffeine and a third type will be high caffeine and no protein. That way I can target three markets—the Paleo’s, the workaholics and the workaholic Paleos.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what I need to do in a general way. I need some protein powder for the protein marshmallows combined with some sugar alcohols (not too much—they cause gastro-distress) to keep the carbs down. For the caffeine version I need some good bitter blockers and some good sweet seasonings like powdered molasses, powder honey and Dehydrated fruit powders.

Then I put my intern to work—making multiple iterations to get it right!

That is where I am at now— Non food scientists call this perfecting the recipe. Food Scientists call it R&D trials. I already have my Aw (water activity) unit ready to ensure that my total Aw is well below 0.85 (I want a good shelf life) and I am going to keep my caffeine levels in a range that won’t piss off the FDA . I will gotta decide which protein to use- whey, soy, potato?

The seed has been planted and next step is to finish my trials and start doing my shelf life, nutritional labels and cost reductions.

Stay Tune For Part 2— navigating my way through the California cottage industry regulations!

About Rachel Zemser