Russ L’HommeDieu knocked on the doors of over 30 homes this past Monday, boxes of vegan-friendly food in hand.
It was all part of a new business the Cutchogue entrepreneur and his wife, Karen, recently started called Harvest Food Box.
Similar in approach to popular home delivery recipe options like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, the L’HommeDieus have created pre-assembled meals that can be cooked in a crockpot.
Mr. L’HommeDieu, a personal trainer, began sharing healthy recipes with his clients. One day, a client approached him saying he wanted to try these recipes, but they looked too complicated for him to make himself.
So Mr. L’HommeDieu offered to provide all the ingredients pre-cut and measured. All the client would have to do on his own is throw them in a crockpot and let it cook. When other clients got word, they began requesting prepackaged meals as well.
“I said to my wife, I think there’s a business here,” he said. “But I don’t want to be one of the big companies that puts food in a box and ships it out the door. I want to help educate people and create a sense of community around this.”
The couple currently offer three meals a week for $69.99. Boxes include three different recipes with all the necessary items measured and chopped. They use space at Backyard Brine Pickle Co. in Cutchogue to prepare the orders.
So far, they will deliver as far west as Baiting Hollow and as far south as Hampton Bays, as well as throughout Southold Town.
Harvest Food Box offerings are 100 percent vegan and include no animal products. They are also 100 percent gluten-free, accommodating people with certain food allergies. Each ingredient comes individually bagged, so customers who may be allergic to a particular item, such as nuts or soy, can prepare the meal without it.
Although he’s been living a vegan lifestyle for over a decade, Mr. L’HommeDieu realizes that not everyone will want dinners that are free of meat. While he doesn’t provide those ingredients, he said people can easily work them into his recipes.
“It’s so much easier to add meat to vegan meals than vice versa,” he said. “We’re trying to help people eat more vegetables. So if that means they need to add sausage to something, for example, that’s fine.”
Formerly the owner of Ice Cream Cove in Southold, as well as an ice cream boat, Mr. L’HommeDieu once weighed over 400 pounds. Often sick and on the verge of developing diabetes, he realized he needed to make a change.
He went on to lose 200 pounds, but realized he needed to do something different in order to keep the weight off. He began researching veganism and eventually changed his diet to adhere to those standards.
“It’s been amazingly wonderful,” he said. “You can do incredible things as a vegan.”
In an effort to educate customers and create a sense of community around Harvest Food Box, the L’HommeDieus are hosting a free lunch event at their Cutchogue home Saturday, April 22. They invite anyone interested to come and enjoy food, such as chili and potato-leek soup, and conversation as they learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Reservations are required and can be made on the Harvest Food Box website at harvestfoodbox.com.