Thank you to Jeff Eder, Founder of Free-from Foods / Dairy Free Market for participating in a Q & A with Food Allergy Buzz. Free-from Foods /Dairy Free Market is located in Bucks County, PA. The website is www.dairyfreemarket.com. For additional information, please contact Dairy Free Market via email at infoATDairyFreeMarket.com or telephone (215) 850-1326.
Please tell us more about yourself and your connection to food allergies and food intolerances.
My connection to food allergies and intolerances dates back to my childhood. I can remember the many times when a piece of pizza, a bowl of cereal, a glass of milk or an ice cream cone left me feeling like I had just eaten something that did not agree with me. Over time, my intolerance to dairy products progressed and in my late teens, I simply had to start cutting out all dairy from my diet. In addition to milk, once out of college I discovered that I was highly intolerant of most nightshade vegetables – potato in particular (that's the one that gave me the biggest problems since it is what I consumed the most). Once combined, my food sensitivities made me very aware of the difficulty one goes through when dealing with a food allergy or intolerance.
What inspired you to open the Dairy Free Market and when did you open for business?
Once I cut out dairy from my diet (and potato later on) it took me a long time to figure out what worked best for me, both at home and when out to eat. I started to experiment with the non-dairy alternatives to my regular meals – Lactaid milk quickly became a great partner with cold cereal, and brands like Stella Doro replaced those formerly yummy cookies that contained dairy. To make things easier at the grocery store, I would usually look for the kosher symbol or lettering identifying a product as “pareve” (aka neutral / not containing dairy or meat). As I figured these things out, I noticed that the products or ingredients I wanted were not always carried by every store. I found it hard to discover new dairy free brands or items since stores never carved out a location in their aisles just for the lactose intolerant – it always seemed like a scavenger hunt gone awry as I gathered all the items I needed. I then started to imagine a shopping experience where at least one aisle of the store would be full of only the foods that I could tolerate. My imagination then turned into reality this year as I launched Dairy Free Market at www.dairyfreemarket.com. After going live in March, 2009 and testing the waters for about six months, Dairy Free Market is now getting its name out there for the world to experience a unique online shopping experience, something I like to call “A Taste of Food Freedom.”
What is your principle line of work? Have you always been an entrepreneur?
My principle line of work is not related to the food/grocery industry or even entrepreneurship. However, I have always been part of entrepreneurial projects and I can thank my parents for the opportunity to be raised in such an environment. As a child and into early adulthood I worked with my family to operate a small (traveling) business throughout flea markets in the Northeast. Most recently, I was able to bring the family business to the Web and have helped manage a successful seven years of online sales. My family's entrepreneurial roots go even further thanks to separate endeavors founded and/or managed by my grandparents – one of which was a luncheonette. Today, Dairy Free Market carries on the small business tradition that runs in my family.
Who handles the day-to-day business? Who can customers expect to speak with when they phone?
I currently handle most of the day-to-day operations of Dairy Free Market. Most web site content, order fulfillment, inventory management and customer service inquiries are my responsibility. However, Dairy Free Market does have a community of family, friends and consultants who assist with various elements of the business. For now, customers can expect to hear from or speak with me directly when they email or call Dairy Free Market.
Dairy Free Market seems to be unique among the food allergy specialty stores. Is everything in the store dairy-free? How do you define dairy-free--are all items from dedicated dairy-free facilities?
Dairy Free Market is unique among the food allergy specialty stores because we focus solely on bringing you the best of the dairy free world. Dairy Free Market helps to lessen any overwhelming feelings that people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance have as they navigate the sea of online specialty food retailers. With that said, Dairy Free Market still keeps its eye on providing products which crossover into the worlds of gluten free, peanut free, vegan, kosher, etc. - many of our products (all dairy free to begin with) also fit into multiple other categories – see www.dairyfreemarket.com “Lifestyle” categories for further information.
Dairy Free Market defines dairy free as a food product that does not contain milk (in any form) within the listed ingredients – so that means either no direct milk and no milk byproducts (no lactose, no whey and no casein) allowed. Dairy Free Market features some terrific brands (like Enjoy Life Foods) whose products are made on dedicated equipment/facilities, but not all products sold are able to be manufactured in this way. Dairy Free Market does recognize how difficult it is for many food manufacturers in the dairy free world to be able to cover the expense of making their products on/in such exclusive equipment/facilities and we do not want to limit the products we can offer. Therefore, it is always recommended that customers contact the manufacturer directly if they want to be sure a particular product meets their personal dairy-free standards.
Finally, do you have any specials or featured products that you'd like to tell Food Allergy Buzz readers about?
Yes, GoMaxGo vegan candy bars are one of our newest items and there is simply nothing like them out there – if you want to relive the taste of your “dairy” childhood where all chocolate could be eaten, then try a GoMaxGo bar to have an amazing dairy free experience. In addition, if you have yet to try dairy free baking then look not further than the many mixes provided by Cherrybrook Kitchen. Finally, if you are yearning for the taste of mac-n-cheese or adding some cheese flavoring to a meal then try out the many dairy free products from Road's End Organics.