Vermont Woman Launches Crazy Food Business
Sweet Potato Instead of Tomato in Your Salsa?
Boston's wine-loving foodies prove Yummy Yammy isn't so crazy after all
Except when it isn't.
A Vermont woman has launched a new concept in food: sweet potato salsa. Not how mango salsa is tomato salsa with some mango in it. This is salsa made from 100% pure flame-roasted sweet potato as the base, no tomato at all.
"It's kinda crazy," admits Lisa Johnson, founder of Yummy Yammy. "No one's ever done it before."
In fact, she's right. While US culture has expanded the idea of sweet potato beyond gooey marshmallow casserole, we've only progressed as far as sweet potato fries, with grocery stores offering frozen fries and bags of fried chips.
Wonder why that is, when sweet potato is actually one of the more versatile vegetables?
"I mean, just about every salsa you've ever eaten has tomato as the base, and there are reasons for that," Johnson says. "You know how there's 20 feet of tomato products in your grocery store? Salsa, paste, pasta sauce, pizza sauce... Well, tomato has a great taste, for sure. But there are so many tomato products in the store because ... well, tomato's cheap."
More expensive to purchase, and taking more time to cook, sweet potatoes are worth the effort, Johnson believes, because of their superior nutritional content.
She points out, "A single 2 tablespoon serving of my salsa gives you half your recommended daily Vitamin A. And most people eat a couple servings at a time (at only 25 calories a serving, with no fat and no sweeteners), so you can easily get all you need every day."
Not only are sweet potatoes an excellent source of Vitamin A (the natural form of beta carotene, a highly touted antioxidant), they also provide Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, B6, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamin E & Vitamin K, have no fat at all, are naturally low calorie and low sodium. A 200g sweet potato even has 8g protein (yes, veggies have protein). This impressive resume supports calling sweet potatoes a "superfood".
So why don't the supermarkets have shelves filled with this wonder food?
Because it's so much more expensive to work with.
Johnson explains: "First, they grow in the ground, making them harder to harvest. Then they have to be cured with temperature and humidity control for at least 6 weeks before shipping. After cooking, almost half goes to the compost pile in skins and ends."
"Compared to tomato products, which are very watery by nature, and have thin skins, sweet potatoes cost a fortune. But that's because they're culinary gold," smiles Johnson.
What's crazy about it, then, if her main ingredient is so amazing? It's the price.
Most typical grocery store salsas sell for $2.99 to maybe $5.99, and that's usually for 16 ounces. Twelve ounces of Johnson's creations usually go for $8.99 to $9.99, and even $14.99 in a few locations she sells to.
"I've been called crazy for thinking that people will pay money for food that is so delicious, extremely nutritious, has no chemicals or additives, and is made by a company that really, actually cares what goes into it and that it benefits people. I understand why people think I'm crazy. Many just don't have that kind of money to spend on food, or would rather spend it on something else."
However, her customers are proving the doubters wrong.
"There's a reason this stuff sells out -- I mean, you just want to put your face in it," chirps a recent customer. "I dream about your products," claims another. Inspired by the slim 250 calories in the whole jar, and the nutrition-packed superfood base, a recent customer wrote a postcard to her local Whole Foods demanding they carry Yummy Yammy Sweet Potato Salsas: "As a local personal trainer -- you need this."
Health publications are starting to catch on, too. Shape Magazine's Weight Loss Coach listed them first among her "10 Best Snacks from Fancy Food Show 2013". And Prevention Magazine considers Yummy Yammy one of the "5 Trendy Foods You're About to Start Eating" because of "pure deliciousness".
"The retailers that love us have shoppers that are 'foodies', and we're gaining a lot of individual customers from Amazon sales," Johnson points out. "They're all people who are passionate about delicious food, really care about eating well for good health, and aren't afraid to be the first one to try the new thing. In fact, they thrive on it. They're the food leaders."
About Yummy Yammy
Yummy Yammy produces the world's only sweet potato salsa. All our salsas are made with 100% pure flame-roasted sweet potato as the base instead of tomato. We are a Vermont company delightfully bringing sweet potatoes to the nation.
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