by Len Lear
Bruce Weinstein, 54, who grew up in Rydal and attended Abington High School, worked in his family’s plumbing and heating supplies business for 20 years, but he also “was always cooking food.” However, at the age of just 31 he found himself suffering from extreme fatigue on a regular basis. He went to several doctors without success but finally found one who diagnosed his condition as “a systemic yeast infection.”
“He said my condition came from too much starch and sugar,” said Bruce. “He told me I needed more protein and less carbohydrates. So I did what he told me, and I felt much better. I also took supplements, but the problem was that there were no stores in my area with the products I needed.”
So Bruce did what countless Americans have done before him: assume that many other people have the same problem you do and, therefore, start a business selling products that will alleviate the same kind of problem that has been plaguing you. So in 1992 he left the family business and opened a health food store, Nature’s Harvest, in Willow Grove. But Bruce was “still trying to figure out a way to feel better …
“So my wife, Marsha, and I started to eat mostly raw foods during the summer of 2003 and noticed the improvement in how we felt right away. As we shopped for raw foods, we noticed that many of them were made with dates, honey and other very sweet ingredients.
“Both of us have hypoglycemia, I more so than Marsha, so we can’t eat a lot of very sweet foods. Also, they are not healthy for most people when eaten too often. We were inspired to make foods that were really healthy for people and tasted awesome.”
As a result, the idea for Awesome Foods was born, and the Weinsteins opened Awesome Foods for business in September of 2005 while still operating the health foods store, which is still open today. Awesome Foods, located in Bridgeport, not far from Plymouth Meeting and Norristown, makes a wide range of food products, both perishable and snacks, that are raw, vegan and gluten-free. They currently have six full-time and two part-time employees.
According to the Weinsteins, many raw foods on the market contain large amounts of raisins, honey, buckwheat or agave nectar, which are high in sugar or starch. Instead, Awesome Foods uses complex carbohydrates like raw vegetables, soaked raw nuts and seeds, some fruits, sprouted beans and soaked whole grains that are lower on the glycemic index.
They dehydrate their snacks below 118 degrees in order to maintain the enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the foods, and they use organic ingredients whenever possible. Their products include dips, falafel, soups, dressings, salads and wraps, fudges, nori rolls, chips, crackers, cookies, lasagna, pizza, wraps, smoothies, etc. (Ed. Note: What led to this article was my purchase at Weavers Way of the Krunchin’ Kale Red Pepper, which really is awesome.)
(Marsha Weinstein, 52, was also able to get Awesome Foods into Whole Foods Markets. Marsha has an MBA in marketing from Pepperdine University in California, but she moved to this area when she got a promotion to be a sales manager of the mid-Atlantic region for a fertility drug company.)
Awesome Foods are now in dozens of stores in 15 states, including those as far away as Arizona and California. Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill began carrying their products in December of 2010 and now has 12 of their perishable items and 10 of their snack items. The Weavers Way store in Mt. Airy just recently began carrying them and now has four of their perishable items.
Awesome Foods are definitely not inexpensive. When asked if the severe recession that began in 2008 hurt his business, Bruce replied, “Not really. Wealthier people did not really change their buying habits. We are affected more by the competition. More companies are now selling raw foods than was the case when we started.”
Siobhan A. Cusumano, who lives near Bridgeport, insists that Awesome Foods products have made a significant difference in her life. Their snacks “have helped me lose 80 pounds, and I am still going,” she stated. “I went on a low carb diet in 2011, and I really believe that their products helped me stick to it.”
For more information, call 610-757-1048 or visit www.awesomefoods.com.