The answer is simple...
In 2012 Meg Barnhart, founder and co-creator of the zen of slow cooking, wanted to create a business that could employ individuals with learning challenges - adults like her son, Doug. When she started slow cooking in 2006 to ease her mom-guilt and get a healthy dinner on the table she never imagined the slow cooker would be a vehicle for change. With her vision in place, she began looking for a partner to help turn her dream into a reality..
Her friend Joanie called a few months later to say, “I met a young mom named Jane McKay, I think she's the person you’ve been searching for." Jane had just moved to Chicago from the UK and was developing recipes and writing for a local food artisan.
When they met a few weeks later it was clear that they were meant to build Meg’s dream together.
With Jane’s food writing background starting the blog made sense. In the Fall of 2012, they launched the zen of slow cooking food blog
sharing Meg’s passion for helping people find a little more Zen in the kitchen with Jane’s desire to create whole food recipes for the slow cooker. As their subscribers grew in numbers, drawn by their contemporary twist on slow cooking, Meg and Jane knew they were onto something.
Using their most widely searched recipes coupled with customer requests they created even more simplicity for the home cook and debuted a series of organic gourmet inspired spice blends at the Lake Forest Farmer’s Market in the Fall of 2013. To their delight, they sold out on the first week, started receiving email requests after the market closed and by year end had sold over 1,000 blends.
In September of 2014 they launched their online store to make purchasing their Zen Blends more accessible.
With their Slow Cooker Spice Blends in production Meg and Jane turned their attention to the employment model they were seeking and met with Planet Access Company (PAC). By now Jane was blending and packaging more than she could handle so they turned to PAC for help. While Jane remained in the kitchen creating the blends they were then shipped to PAC to take care of the time consuming tinning, labelling and heat sealing process. They had found employment model for young adults in transition.
With the debut of their Zen Blends Meg’s dream slowly started to take shape. Each time someone purchased one of their blends they made a contribution to their slow cooking initiative, a "Drishti Donation - where insight meets action.”
They created a visual recipe and a video tutorial for adults who are non-readers. They also taught a workshop about the simplicity and safety of slow cooking to a group of young adults with autism and donated a slow cooker for their community kitchen. They plan to expand their initiative to other underserved populations as well as to help our returning veterans.
We hope our blends bring a little more Zen into your kitchen and thank you for helping us build our dream.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."