We live in an age where smart and responsible decision-making when it comes to food choices is at the forefront of nearly global snacky conversation. If the average person wants to make a decision to eat healthier, there is basically something they can eat at every restaurant, store and even most convenience stores that the everyday citizen frequents. But, what would happen if we could not make those decisions? What happens when food allergies and sensitivities keep people from making any decision in those same places? Food allergies and sensitivities have driven a wedge between culinarians and convenience for years, and a gap has existed where people with such food foes had to choose between being hungry or being sick if they were caught without their planned meals — until now.
These are the people that Cappy’s Farm Fresh Food is here to help, although it does help that their treats and eats are delicious for all diners regardless of allergy and sensitivities.
It is easy to get lost imagining the tastes of the goodies that Owner Catherine Waite has in store for its patrons. However, as Waite explained to me, this is a chasm of gigantic proportion for an alarmingly large part of the population.
The JAMA Network Open, a monthly open access medical journal published by the American Medical Association, ran a cross-sectional study in 2015-2016 wherein they estimated that 10.8% of the adult population was food allergic. Of that 10.8%, nearly half had at least one adult-onset allergic reaction and 38% reported having to go to the emergency room for a food-related allergic reaction at least once. Those numbers cover only food allergies. An even greater portion of the population has food-related sensitivities that keep them dining delicately every day of their lives.
Waite began her career as an engineer. She spent seven years designing major highways, but her career path was quickly altered after she received a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis and her experience helped Waite recognize a major gap in the culinary world for food that fits all dietary needs.
Waite summed up her mission best, “I want to help people that need help like I needed help and not have [them have] to do what I had to do to get there — have to be as sick as I was.”
After her diagnosis, Waite quit her stressful job and went on a road trip. She told her story: “I love traveling. I love seeing new things, and talking to people. I traveled in airports, driving all the time, trains, and anywhere I would go there was nothing I could eat. There wasn’t even a granola bar I could eat. I was like, ‘Why can’t I have anything?’ It was super frustrating because if I didn’t bring food, I wasn’t eating. I had originally started and I was like I want something that is bite-sized.”
Cappy’s very first product was a muffin. Waite was quick to admit that she is not a classically trained baker or chef. But, much like the hard work she put forth while building major highways, Waite poured herself into learning to become a great baker. Creating an allergen-sensitive muffin – and baking thousands of pans worth – allowed her to hone in on her skills. Baking is a science and requires patience and persistence just as being an engineer does.
Her start was small, Waite explained: “My first market ever, when I had a plastic table cloth from the dollar store and one tray of muffins, I showed up and was like, ‘Hey guys I am here.’ That was on Hilton Head. That was at the Farmer’s Market. Then I branched off very shortly after to Bluffton.”
Just this year she expanded to our local market, Forsyth Farmers Market, and was instantly welcomed.
“I had applied a year before to get into Forsyth. I didn’t get in because there was a cutoff date, and I did not realize I was outside that cutoff date. I applied this year, immediately got in, but I believe the universe did not let me in [the first year] because I was not ready. I would have been so over my head because this is a bigger market, it is so much more business oriented,” Waite explained telling me about her journey.
At our local Forsyth Market, you can purchase her muffins, dubbed Quickbites. All of them are gluten, dairy, peanut, fish, shellfish, and soy free, as is the same with all of Cappy’s products.
“It is a niche thing, right: finding someone who has these allergies or is looking for this type of diet or this or that,” Waite said. “I think the biggest compliment I get is that this doesn’t taste gluten free. That is the goal because I hate gluten free things.”
Muffin flavors include classics like blueberry, lemon poppy and pumpkin spice. You will also find original and unique flavors like sun-butter and jelly and everything bagel. The everything bagel quick bite is her homage to her home state New Jersey. Also on the sweet side of things are cookies, chocolate strawberries and pancakes. Waite’s passion is baking, and therefore her line of sweet treats expands readily.
After perfecting her baking skills, Waite decided to expand her menu by partnering with several local farms—Oakley River Farm and Whippoorwill Farm. The new line of food products are savory seasonal items that are nutrient-dense and follow the same allergy-aware model.
“I love partnering with the farms because I really like connecting people with food that is grown locally,” she said.
Partnering with farms also means seasonal products. Her classic, creamy cucumber salad and fresh and light gazpacho are available when the ingredients are freshest.
From Whippoorwill, Cappy’s gets leftover chicken and pork bones to create her signature bone broth. Another huge principal for Cappy’s is to avoid waste in the kitchen. Broth is a product that many home cooks do not take the time to make but appreciate the huge quality and flavor difference in a handmade version instead of the standard boxed-and-sitting-on-the-shelf broths.
Cappy’s most popular products overall are the hand-shaped black bean burgers — a product that Waite decided to add to the menu on a whim but has perfected over many test rounds. Her recipe includes fresh carrots, onions, and black beans; even though they are gluten free, they are quite a hearty addition to any bun.
For Cappy’s the next step is wholesale. Waite explained.
“I have just been approved for my labeling and am now going to have an inspection for the processes of my food, so I will be able to do wholesale,” she said. “[This part is] super exciting because I have a lot of customers that order consistently.” It is likely locals will start to see Cappy’s products in Savannah restaurants and stores.
After testing out a lot of her concoctions, I can attest that you will not miss your normal gluten-rich breads and such. If you can take it from anyone, take it from Waite—even she hates things that are gluten free.
You can buy Cappy’s Farm Fresh Food at the Forsyth Farmers Market on Saturdays or visit the website at Cappysfreshfood.com