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October 19, 2016
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Berea couple’s children inspire newest snack food business

EllieFinn's

Moving from New York City back to Kentucky, Jacob, Carolyn, Ellie and Finn Gahn are behind a new food startup.

The health foods market is a crowded and competitive one, but one young Kentucky couple is carving out its own tasty niche in the saturated field.

“Health food encompasses so much these days,” said Sweetgrass Natural Foods Co. co-founder Jacob Gahn. “It might refer to an up-jumped candy with a trendy superfood ingredient or a hard-to-love diet food.”

In the case of Gahn and his wife, Carolyn Gahn, creating an all-new product that truly fits the bill of healthy was the No. 1 priority.

“EllieFinn’s Go Snacks are different because they’re both delicious and legitimately healthful,” he said. “No one can really doubt the benefits of spinach, beets and carrots. We’ve just made it a lot easier to snack your veggies with EllieFinn’s.”

Three years ago, the Gahns, whose business operates in Berea, founded Sweetgrass Granola and are a well established Kentucky Proud brand. Their Sweetgrass Farmstead produces a range of pastured farm products, with EllieFinn’s Go Snacks being the latest venture. The all-natural, raw superfood snacks come in 2.5-ounce packages and contain a half cup of organic vegetables in one package.

The Gahns named the new business for their two small children, reinforcing the passion they feel for EllieFinn’s and the impact they can have.

“Over 90 percent of all American children and adults don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day,” Gahn said. “With all the focus on exotic superfoods these days, people overlook the simple healthfulness of organic veggies like spinach, carrots and beets. That vegetable nutrition is hard to get on-the-go, though, so we wanted to make them available in a convenient, snackable form.”

Flavors include apple cinnamon, chocolate sunflower and strawberry pomegranate. The simple ingredients include coconut, sesame seeds, Chia seeds, sea salt and dates.

The dream is to impact America’s food culture, creating more nutrient-dense options.

Juggling the Sweetgrass business while looking after two young children, Ellie and Finn, is no small undertaking.

“The kids definitely influence our business quite a bit. While Ellie and Finn can certainly make business difficult at times, we wouldn’t be in the specialty food business if it weren’t for them,” Gahn said. “We want our children to grow up witnessing and sharing in the hard work and responsibility of a home business.”

Starting the business and moving to Kentucky was a big change for the family. Jacob is a Lexington native, while Carolyn hails from Florida. Both graduated from University of Kentucky before moving to New York City, where Jacob worked as a computer programmer and Carolyn in the theater scene.

“We decided we wanted to grow and create healthy foods and learned to farm organically before purchasing our farmstead a few years ago,” Gahn said. “That’s where we began creating natural, healthful foods for retail as well.”

Gahn said the family learned a lot from their first product launch, Sweetgrass Granola.

“The challenge and importance of relating high product quality to a real need of your customer base is one of the biggest takeaways that we’ve applied to EllieFinn’s,” he said.

The product heads into full production this month. For more information, visit elliefinns.com.

—Abby Laub

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