At a wellness fair back in March, we were assigned to a table next to Marla Vargas-Mundey, the culinary artist behind LAJ Foods. She had kale chips that day, and we were sampling fresh-picked winter kale, so a lot of people assumed we were working together. By the end of the day, we had realized that we should be working together, because Great Country Farms and LAJ Foods were in fact a perfect fit.
Marla will be experimenting with the fruits and vegetables in our CSA shares and describing her results in this venue. Here’s her first post introducing herself:
“My name is Marla. I am a wife and mother of three who has lived in Virginia for the last 15 years. I am also the proud owner of LAJ Foods in Leesburg, Virginia. I make and sell plant-based food that is free of animal products, soy, and gluten.
What started as a goal to get more vegetables into my family has blossomed into a business focused on finding creative ways for others to eat healthy as well.
My plant-based journey started over seven years ago when my son developed a dairy allergy which agitated his asthma. The family gave up dairy in solidarity with his condition. My husband and I started feeling more energetic and dropped about 10 pounds. I started doing some research online and in books and films. It was documentary films like Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy and Vegucated which helped me understand what plant-based was and how it would benefit me and my family. The ultimate proof of our new lifestyle was how wonderful my family did on our new diet.
The problem I found–and wanted to solve with LAJ Foods–was finding plant-based convenience foods that were healthy and tasty. I love to cook and knew I could whip up a healthy meal myself, but I am not always in the mood to cook. Most convenience foods are full of salt, fat, and preservatives or taste like cardboard. LAJ Foods offers healthy, quick alternatives that feel like a special meal. They are appropriate for not just plant-based folks but for people with allergies and gluten sensitivity, paleo dieters, and folks who simply want to eat better.
One of my passions is cooking, and in particular I love cooking vegetables (it’s true). Finding new and creative ways to use farm fresh produce is my favorite way to spend the day, especially if it is something I have never seen before! I am looking forward to sharing how many ways one can transform the products you will be receiving in your farm share. I hope my tips and tricks will inspire you to try new things or revisit past hurdles. I hope to help encourage you to make the most of your share.”