Interview with Family-Owned Karen’s Naturals (Formerly Just Tomatoes)
You can pretty much go into any grocery store these days to discover aisles dedicated to organic and healthy snacks. What was once a niche category that you could only find at a health food store has now grown to $43.15 million dollar (2015 stats) industry with more people seeking out these healthy alternatives. One such company that was at the pioneer of this movement was Just Tomatoes. Conceived in 1985 by Karen Cox who envisioned a brand that would utilize dehydration and freeze-drying technology to bring farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the public year-round in the most nutritious, convenient, cost-conscious and flavor-packed manner possible. Working with her husband, Bill Cox, a fourth generation family farmer, they created Just Tomatoes – initially selling dehydrated tomatoes from their farm, then quickly outgrowing their name by adding apples, persimmons, berries, corn and mix to their line of naturally-fresh, chemical-free products.
During a recent chat with Bill Cox, we learned that the process starts by using fruits and vegetables directly from farms, ranches and orchards where they’re allowed to ripen naturally before being picked at the peak of flavor. The produce is then washed gently, and cut into bite-size pieces before being flash frozen. All water is then extracted by vacuum. Since the temperature never exceeds 90ºF, freeze-dried foods are considered a raw food (the company’s dehydrated products are dried at 125ºF). Whether freeze-dried or dehydrated, Karen’s Naturals’ fruits and veggies always maintain their color, nutrients and natural flavors without the use of any additives or preservatives.
Sadly, Karen passed but her family continues to honor and legacy and recently re-branding the company as Karen’s Naturals, to both honor her and continue her mission to create healthy, farm-fresh freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. This includes an expansion of their product line and retail distribution where you can now find Karen’s Naturals in 37 distinct fruit and vegetable variations, along with their new line of 100% natural fruit powders. Available in all-natural and organic versions, some of Karen’s Naturals products include: Just Apples, Just Bananas, Just Strawberries, Just Blueberries, Just Grapes, Just Peaches, Just Mango, Cherries, Just Raspberries, Just Tomatoes, Just Corn, Just Peas, Just Hot Veggies, Fruit Powders and more. Additionally, all of these products are naturally free of gluten, dairy, wheat and nuts.
A pioneer brand in the industry, Karen’s Naturals is a great way to snack on healthy veggies and fruits without having to worry about added any sugars, preservatives or GMOs.
Available online at www.karensnaturals.com, through Amazon.com and other online retailers and at such health food stores as Whole Foods, Karen’s Naturals offers individual “on-the-go” snack bag versions of its freeze-dried and dehydrated fruit and veggie products (all under two dollars each), as well as bulk packages and Variety Packs.