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How An Illinois Woman Turned a Passion for Produce Into a Business

How An Illinois Woman Turned a Passion for Produce Into a Business
Illinois Farm Bureau Partners - By 

Growing up on a small farm in Wayne County, Sarah Frey-Talley dreamed of the day she could leave rural life behind.

“It was never my goal to stay on the farm,” she says. “I wanted to be a corporate attorney and live in the city.”

Until then, she settled for weekly outings with her mother.

“My mother had a small delivery route, and as a small child, I joined her. She would buy watermelons and cantaloupes in southern Indiana, and we would deliver them to independent grocery stores,” Frey-Talley says. “It was a way to get off the farm.”

At 16, Frey-Talley took over her mom’s melon route. Before long, the savvy salesperson expanded it from about a dozen retailers to 150. She also secured her first contract with a major national retailer: Walmart.

Around that time – as she finished high school and junior college simultaneously – this go-getter experienced an “aha” moment.

“It just clicked in my head that I had begun to build a profitable business that I couldn’t walk away from,” Frey-Talley says.

Embracing her future as a farmer, she purchased the family farm at age 19. Under her leadership, Frey Farms grew into a multistate enterprise producing watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash for the nation’s top 25 retailers. With more than 12,000 acres in seven states, Frey Farms employs more than 500 seasonal workers – not to mention Sarah’s four older brothers.

This enterprising entrepreneur even found new uses for watermelon, her personal “passion fruit,” as she refers to it.

“Watermelon is an amazing fruit – a superfruit with unique properties,” Frey-Talley says.
For example, the low-calorie, nutrient-rich fruit offers an abundant source of cancer-fighting lycopene. Watermelon also contains L-citrulline, which aids in muscle recovery and blood flow, making it a new favorite among athletes.

Inspired by a growing body of research on the nutritional benefits of watermelon, Frey-Talley set out to make this rather unwieldy fruit more accessible.

She succeeded with the launch of Tsamma bottled watermelon juice in 2014 – the first of its kind to be distributed nationally. Today, consumers can buy this convenient form of watermelon at 2,000 retail locations.

Next up: Frey-Talley plans to launch value-added pumpkin products to capitalize on another underrated source of nutrition.

“I believe our responsibility as farmers is to educate consumers. And now is the time to do it because people have more interest in their food and where it comes from,” Frey-Talley says.

She also spends countless hours educating lawmakers on issues affecting agriculture, such as immigration reform.

“We need a large amount of people to harvest in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, domestic populations in these rural areas cannot support our needs,” says Frey-Talley, who relies heavily on the nation’s H-2A program. 

The longstanding program grants work visas to temporary agricultural workers. In recent years, however, H-2A became bogged down by bureaucratic inefficiencies after lawmakers tied it to comprehensive immigration reform.

Urging politicians to treat H-2A as a stand-alone program, Frey-Talley seeks to streamline and grow the nation’s existing guest worker programs.

Whether making the rounds on Capitol Hill or promoting new products, this country girl spends much of her time in the city, after all.

“My life is definitely ‘town and country,’ ” says Frey-Talley, who now appreciates the farm life she once wished to escape.

“As a little girl, I wondered why we didn’t buy food at the store like other people. Now I can see that we were really rich to have good, clean, wholesome food,” she says. “Now people long to get back to simple food.”

And that Sarah Frey-Talley happily delivers.


Cold Pressed Juice: What’s Hidden Behind the Hype?

Cold Pressed Juice: What’s Hidden Behind the Hype?

If you’re not living under the rocks in the past few months or years, for sure, you have already heard or even tried cold pressed juice. The cold-pressed juice craze started with yoga gurus on cleansing and meditation and gym buffs looking for a great antioxidant. And since the world revolves around being health conscious, cold pressed juice rose in popularity in a short period of time. But there’s a question playing behind my head asking, “what is really behind the cold pressed juice hype?”

Cold pressed juice underwent a process which includes hydraulic pressing that used a good amount of pressure to extract the liquid from fruits and vegetables. By employing this process, no nutrients from the fruits and vegetables are lost. At its rawest form, a bottle of cold pressed juice can only last for three to four days. Thus, when left unconsumed after four days (maximum), you should better throw it out. Drinking raw cold pressed juice after four days can pose a serious health risk most especially for children and pregnant women who are sensitive. Luckily, most of the suppliers of cold pressed juice these days have already employed pasteurization in order to maintain the freshness of the juice. In other words, the cold pressed juice available in the market can be consumed even after a week or so.

If there’s one downside that might prevent you from adding the cold pressed juice in your grocery list, it is the hefty price tag that comes with it. Most of  the cold pressed juice retail from $5 to $10 per  bottle. In other words, if you will add a bottle of cold pressed juice, it might also make your grocery shopping budget  through the roof which isn’t wise for families dealing with a tight budget.

In its general sense and concept, cold pressed juices are relatively safe and nutritious. Since the process that it underwent use a low level of heat, it doesn’t really affect the overall nutritional value of the fruits or vegetables. In addition to that, fruits and vegetables are generally healthy and beneficial for the growth and development of the body. So, if you need a quick pick-me-up drink to boost your energy, a bottle of cold pressed juice can do the trick. However, as of these days, there is no study or research that tackles and proves the overall effects of drinking cold pressed juice.

If you are interested in trying out the possible benefits and wonders of drinking cold pressed juice, it is worth noting that a juice-based diet won’t suffice in making your body fit and healthy. If you want to make the most out of the benefits of a cold pressed juice, it is best to drink it in moderation. Plus, you should consider adding other foods that will help the overall function of the body. Avoid relying on a cold pressed juice as it can work better if coupled with fiber-rich foods.