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Share the Health

How local food entrepreneurs are filling a health niche

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The Missing Link Foods commercial kitchen is a busy place on a Monday morning. Brett Edgar and his staff of two weave between each other carrying industrial-size cooking sheets, giant metal bowls of steaks and cutting boards as big as welcome mats.

They’re making 680 dinners for customers all over the Treasure Valley.

Edgar’s business started with a few meals a week he cooked for his friends. He makes dinners that follow the Paleo diet—harkening back to a hunter-gatherer time where humans didn’t eat grains. The meals are gluten-free, made with lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes over white potatoes and plenty of herbs and spice.

“I can’t remember not being able to cook,” Edgar said. “My mom would set us on the counter and have us tell her about our day while she made dinner.”

His endeavor quickly grew to a point where Edgar quit his job with Apple and started sharing a commercial kitchen with Eagle Hills Golf Course. He outgrew that, and moved in with MFT at the Roadway Inn. Now that the Inn is slated for redevelopment, he’s found his own commercial kitchen on the corner of Park Center and Broadway.

He makes four evenings worth of food for two-person and four-person families, for $55 and $99 per week respectively. After all the dinners are prepped and packaged, his clients pick them up from four locations around town on Tuesday evenings.

The menu includes dinners like chimichurri pork tenderloin with chili dusted sweet potato rounds, tarragon shallot cherry chicken with sesame ginger roasted vegetables, and roasted pork loin and red pepper pumpkin seed pesto with balsamic glazed beets and baby carrots.

Missing Link’s kitchen is a good size though, so Edgar decided to turn it into a space for other natural food producers as well. He shares the kitchen with the makers of FitFuel Bars, Pega Natural Foods and up until recently, Bucha Brew.

“It was just a perfect fit,” Edgar said. “We were already working together, and now we can all help each other grow.” Jennifer Ludington’s business started out similar to Edgar’s.

She owns A2O Fitness and as a personal trainer, she said she felt frustration when she needed to recommend a protein bar to her clients.

“I felt like there was a void in the market,” Ludington said. “There wasn’t anything I could recommend that had good protein and was all natural.”

Like Edgar, she started in her own kitchen. That was four years ago. Now her business has expanded to making as many as 1,000 bars per week, and they're available in 13 Albertsons locations, as well as yoga studios, the Boise Co-op, and shops in McCall and Sun Valley. FitFuel bars are all-natural, vegan, grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free, GMO-free frozen protein bars filling enough to be a meal.

Being able to work around each other’s schedules and share the kitchen has helped her grow her business quickly as well.

“It’s something that’s unique in Boise, that we’ve got a little niche market on,” Ludington said. “We all share the same vision on what we believe food should be. Putting healthy things into our body will help us live healthier lives, and that’s the whole goal.”