AOA Startup Grant 2017

Raya's Raw & Cultured

startup2014 Rayas Raw Cultured 1

Project: Raya's Raw & Cultured is a collection of my fermented, probiotic rich, healing products, from kombucha (cultured tea) to kraut (cultured vegetables). All of my creations are made by me, from organic and locally sourced products, and contain naturally occurring probiotics and gut-healing compounds.

Who: Raya Ioffe

Short bio
When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher. As it turned out, teaching has been a common thread in all of my work. I'm a yoga teacher, licensed massage therapist, and a holistic health coach. I teach all of my clients and the public at Honest Weight Food Co-op and at A Different Drummers Kitchen (Stuyvesant Plaza) how to be healthier and how to nourish themselves.

In order to stay abreast of what's cutting edge in the nutrition field, I'm always investing in my education. I built a successful business, www.RayaWellness.com, that specializes in guiding clients through the process of healing their digestive distress, managing their auto-immune disease symptoms, and identifying their food allergies while learning how to live with allergies/sensitives without feeling deprived.

I've discovered that as excited as people are becoming about natural health... they need support to make the changes easy and doable. The reality is - everyone is busy... People need access to healthy, healing, nourishing foods already prepared for them.

Thus Raya's Raw & Cultured was born.

A description of the proposed project

Raya's Raw & Cultured is a collection of my fermented, probiotic rich, healing products, from kombucha (cultured tea) to kraut (cultured vegetables). All of my creations are made by me, from organic and locally sourced products, and contain naturally occurring probiotics and gut-healing compounds.

For the past 18 months, I've been selling Raya's Raw & Cultured to my clients and friends. It's time for me to take the next step and begin (a) producing Raya's Raw & Cultured for the commercial market, and; (b) teaching people how to ferment and culture their own foods.

Much of the food that we see on our supermarket shelves today, isn't actually fermented. Shelf stable sauerkraut, for example, is pickled, losing nutrients. Traditional fermentation preserves the original vitamin content of the food itself while making it more nutritious and digestible. Fermentationists like myself use naturally occurring healthy bacteria (probiotics) to convert sugars into vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and organic acids, all of which improve digestive function and boost immune health.

For centuries, different cultures have used various fermentation methods to preserve and enhance their food. Over the last century, as our food system has become more industrialized, we have lost the art of culturing our food. I want to bring this traditional, healing, tasty way of culturing probiotic foods back to people's homes and tables.

The growing need and interest in nutritious, sustainable, organic food is obvious in the Capital District with the new Honest Weight Food Co-op, Trader Joe's, soon, a Whole Foods Market, in addition to the plentiful farmer's markets. The explosive success of movies that educate people on healthier choices are abundant.

Fermented foods are the number one missing food group in our world right now. We need more culture... literally.

To introduce Raya's Raw & Cultured foods and drinks to the public I need to rent a commercial, Ag & Markets approved kitchen. The license alone is $400. I also foresee the need for shelves, refrigeration and various kitchen equipment, glassware and the raw ingredients in bulk. This funding would help get this project jump-started.

How would the grant money help?
I've simply outgrown my home kitchen space. I need to get into a commercial kitchen, that I can rent. This startup grant would help pay for the license, buy refrigeration, fermenting containers, shelves, raw materials, designer for labels, you name it! The funds will go to good use for sure! Thanks so much for considering my application and I can't wait to have you try my tasty healing creations!

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Next application: The Rise and Shine Company

Previous application: Puzzles Bakery & Cafe

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