If the sauce in question is Feel Good Salsa, the answer just might be yes.
Dina Feldman, chef and creator of Feel Good Salsa, makes mouth-watering, restaurant-worthy dips, but she’s not content to rest on the laurels of flavor alone. Dina wants her salsa to be good. Like, ontologically.
“I want to be the Patagonia of salsa!” says Dina. I want to prove that sustainability and profitability in business can coexist.”
Her fledgling company is only nine months old, but it has already taken big steps to ensure a small carbon footprint. For starters, her salsas don't travel far. Made in the South Bay, they are sold at Farmers’ Markets in Playa Vista and Costa Mesa. The produce is local too: grown between Riverside and Ventura: a 60-mile radius. This both limits their miles-to-market and provides sales for local farmers.
“I don't haggle with them,” Dina says. “Whatever price they give me, that’s the price I want to pay.”
If sourcing is important, Dina also thinks about where her produce will end up. In an effort to reduce her production scraps, she took cilantro stems, something normally tossed out as food waste, and turned them into a delicious dip.
“That’s been a huge hit because—obviously—it’s really awesome to use the entire cilantro.”
As for the onion skins, tomato cores, and pepper stems, the inevitable, inedible by products of salsa making, Dina composts them through the Bay Foundation’s “Table to Farm” composting program.
“We’ve [prevented] 200 pounds of food from going into the landfill,” she says with pride.
Instead of waste, these scraps become soil-enriching compost for Los Angeles-area farms and school gardens.
To Dina’s thinking, sustainability means carefully considering every step of production. The salsa is sold in biodegradable plastic containers. Dina’s market banner is made from recycled paper and eco-friendly ink, and her business cards are seed packets she made from recycled paper.
“I’m looking to find biodegradable gloves,” she says of the food service gloves required by the health department. “Being in business, you're going to create a footprint,” she concedes. “It’s almost inevitable, but I’m really focusing on lowering the carbon footprint as much as possible.”
Many entrepreneurs assume that sustainability will hurt their bottom line, but Dina is convinced that the opposite is true. She believes her standards give eco-conscious customers the opportunity to choose sustainability—or as she puts it, “vote with their dollars.” After watching customers flock to her stand, I think she’s right.
Feel Good Salsa flavors include (but are not limited to):
roasted chili de arbol
cactus pico de gallo
And all are available to sample. Containers are five dollars each. You can cast your vote Saturdays from 9am-2pm at the SoCo Costa Mesa Farmers Market inside SOCO & The OC Mix.
Aubrey Yarbrough manages the Playa Vista, Westwood and Hermosa Beach Farmers' Markets for Farmer Mark. Before moving to LA she ran her own organic farm and cooked on the garde manger station at the award winning Elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ. She has contributed to Edible Jersey and her poetry will appear in the forthcoming issue of New American Writing.