Larry and Linda VanDeWege
Busienss: Free to be Naturalee
Columbus Farmer’s Market,
501 Brown St., downtown; and Artisan Foodworks Market, 9600 North U.S. 31, Taylorsville
When nutritionist Linda VanDeWege was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2000, she returned to school to study dietetics. She was eager to learn how diet impacts overall health and how the body could recover from food sensitivities and immune deficiencies with the food it’s given.
After graduating with an associate degree from Indiana University-Kokomo, VanDeWege dedicated her time to helping others with similar diagnoses.
In 2011, she and her husband, Larry, joined the Columbus Farmer’s Market, where they offer a range of gluten-free products.
Talk about the process of creating your items, the time, supplies and skills involved.
Creating gluten-free baked goods is a much different process than regular wheat-based products. To create excellent-tasting gluten-free products requires using certain ingredients, which is why most gluten-free products do not taste very good.
What ingredients do you use to give your products better flavor?
Our flour is not completely grains. We use three whole grain rices and add flax and amaranth seeds for higher nutrition and flavor.
What are some of the items you offer for sale?
We sell more than 20 varieties of granola; six different types of bread, including egg-free bagels and English muffins; and various kinds of cupcakes and cookies.
What are your top-selling flavors of granola?
Jamocha, which is a chocolate coffee; orange-cranberry; chocolate cherry; and Dutch cocoa.
What do you like about being a part of the market?
I like the interaction with customers, being able to understand their dietary needs and sharing what I have learned over the years. I have studied nutrition many years and went back to college to better understand why I and others have become gluten- and dairy-intolerant and immune deficient.
What’s been one of your most memorable experiences participating in the market?
Having people come to our booth and ask, “What do you have that is gluten-free?” and being able to sweep our arms across the tables and say, “Everything.” We enjoy watching their eyes get big with excitement. Then they come back, and the delight they express that it tastes good.
What types of conversations do you have with the shoppers?
Nutritional healing, since many who come to our booth have dietary concerns.
Do you think people are becoming more interested in locally produced items? If so, why?
I believe so. Local is fresh and, therefore, more nutritious. You can also be confident of where it comes from, how it is processed and that it is free of chemicals and pesticides. Local products also do not need all the preservatives or special varieties selected just so it lasts longer in stores or ships better.
Is this a hobby or more for you?
It began as a way to meet the healthy needs of myself and my family. But it has grown into a business of meeting the needs of others as a way of giving back what the Lord has given to me.
What are your plans when the market ends?
We are opening a gluten-free bakery at 903 Washington St.