Writing & Images by: Taren Maroun
Three solid days of projects found me aching for escape, so when my roommate suggested a trip to the farmers market I happily obliged. The sun was bright in a clear blue sky, and I was particularly thankful for the breeze that warm Sunday afternoon.
It was that warm Sunday, though, that beneath a banner boasting non-dairy glory, we met Allen. The vegan in me was instantly curious and as he smiled at us from behind his silver cooler we couldn't help but approach him and ask about his goods -- and after tasting them there was only one thing to do! Feature him, of course!
So, without futher ado, I give you Allen's: Nary Dairy
WILDFOLK: It was great to meet you, albeit brief. Tell us a little about yourself + nary dairy (the back story unto birth)!
ALLEN: It was good to meet you too! Well, I'm a musician. Was in a band called The Falling Wallendas which put out four albums in Chicago before moving here to become a comedy writer. While I was shopping features and TV shows, I turned my love of food, and obsession with my family's diet, into a little business doing cleanses for people. I'd prepare smoothies and lunches, and my clients would come by my house and pick up the meals, drop off dishes, that kind of thing. It was crazy. One of the dishes that everyone loved was my fermented cashew cheeses. They couldn't get enough of them. I adapted an old recipe which used a special fermenting cocktail to bring out the tangy, cheesiness of cashews. Then, after a family driving trip back to my hometown Wisconsin (yes, the dairy state! I also live on Kraft Avenue, double irony) I realized how poorly everyone ate in this country, and how long we could sustain ourselves on a cooler of cashew cheese. That was the Eureka moment when we thought it would be fulfilling to try to bring Nary Dairy to market. For so long, Vegans had to sustain themselves on what they COULD eat, not what they wanted to. And here was this incredibly delicious product that was, frankly, better tasting than real cheese. Certainly made you feel better ((60 per cent of the world being lactose intolerant) Being a creamy spread, it also was as versatile as sour cream. You could use it to cream anything you wanted to make, without any of the guilt from eating fatty, globby dairy. And unlike most vegan dairy, kids and non vegans love it too.
WILDFOLK: Is it just you? what sparked the idea for nary dairy? and when did you decide to take the plunge and put boots on the ground?
ALLEN: We started our biz doing clandestine non-dairy cheese transactions on the property of our daughter's elementary school. Then we took on the Studio City Farmers market. Then Hollywood. Then we got into Erewhon and a bunch of other retail places (Lassens, Locali, Viva La Vegan, Santa Monica Co-Opportunity, The Fit Stop). We weren't even pursuing stores, but they were getting so many requests for our product, they were calling us. At Erewhon, we got contacted directly from the owner. And word keeps spreading. We have a 14 store waiting list, and a rabid following on social media. It has been great and humbling. We really feel awesome being able to contribute to the healthy diet of families. Our daughters bring Nary Dairy for lunch and their friends steal it, they love it so much.
WILDFOLK I love the use of nuts as a base, is there a reason you chose cashews? Can you share a little of the process you use to create such a delicious product, and the benefits?
ALLEN: We use cashews because they have a neutral taste that allows you impart any flavor onto them. They're also very healthy. There was a recent study from Harvard Medical School that says nuts can help increase longevity. As for how we make it, it's just my wife and I and an ungodly amount of work. As I said, we blend cashews with our secret fermenting cocktail that delivers the cheesy flavor profile no one else can really nail. Then we let it sit in a warm environment and let nature take over. The natural fermentation infuses our product with probiotics, so it's great for digestion and your immune system. It's also raw, which means the nuts retain their essential enzymes and nutrients. Nary Dairy is virtually a superfood.
WILDFOLK: Well, we for one appreciate you and your wifes hard work! We absolutely love what you have done here! Thanks for your time Allen and see you at the next market!
Santa Monica Co-Opportunity
1525 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Full O’ Life
2515 Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91050
1631 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
2080 Hillhurst, Los Feliz, CA 90021
Grassroots Natural Market
1119 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030
13208 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066
The Grain and the Greens
12196 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604