This week we were able to get our questions answered by Carter Lewis, Co-Owner of modPALEO, a North Carolina based Paleo meal service that has grown from offering local to now national delivery.
In this interview we cover reversing family members long-standing health issues, star NC local farmers and the new family style and “Pegan” friendly product lines being offered by modPALEO.
We cover the following....
How did you come up with the idea for modPALEO?
My wife started cooking for folks at our gym in Charlotte. Actually, she started cooking for one person who came over for dinner and there were enough leftovers for our friend to take home. That girl, let’s call her April (‘cause that’s her name), loved the clean approach and convenience. So, she asked Amber to cook for her as she was cooking for the two of us for the week. Word got out after a couple of weeks and Amber launched a pilot program of 10 people. We scheduled a pick up on Sunday evening at our gym… and it grew from there to 37 weekly delivery locations and, now, Nationwide delivery.
What are your long term goals for modPALEO as a company?
To truly deliver clean and well-sourced foods to busy and health-conscious folks. As many as possible. And help change how people look at food. Healthy can be tasty. Healthy can be convenient. Sometimes, folks just need a little help. And we continue to look for opportunities to help create a closer connection to real food, and all of it’s benefits from health and wellness to sustainability.
Are there farms that you work with that you are particularly proud of?
We’ve been working with Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC, almost since motPALEO’s inception. Jamie Ager is a very smart, charismatic guy who took his family’s farm and developed it into a household name when not a lot of folks his age were committing to agriculture. Especially the way HNG does it. Now they’re in all kinds of restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Carolinas and beyond. It’s funny to see his picture on the counter at Whole Foods. They run a great farm and are helping redefine how contemporary farms run.
Amber Lewis (the founder) mentioned in her bio that eating paleo has improved her own health. What are some of the benefits she has seen personally?
Amber had digestive issues all her life until stumbling upon the Paleo approach. And her family history (particularly in women) is absolutely riddled with heart disease. This was the main reason for the change we made in our own lives. We found our own health benefits (decreasing Amber’s digestive issues and my High Blood Pressue), but the ability to introduce a change to Amber’s mom’s health was of even greater impact. Doctors had never been able to diagnose Bobbi appropriately, and instead just treated her symptoms. It turns out that all those medicines and stents and procedures weren’t making Bobbi better. Changing her diet improved her quality of life significantly. This was the real impetus to help others.
Where do the recipes for your meals come from?
Initially, from Amber. Now, Executive Chef Brandon Cress and Director of Operations Kris Reid maintain recipe development. They take a look at how we can adapt some traditional (lots of southern inspired items) meals “our way,” while relying as much as possible on the seasons for inspiration.
modPALEO has been involved with the Paleo Community for a long time (since 2011). Have you noticed changes with the community over the years? What do you think the future holds?
Absolutely. Every conversation we had with someone in 2011 began with “Are you familiar with the Paleo Diet?” – these days, people understand it, at least at a base level. So that’s different. And I think people have evolved their thinking on the Paleo template to be more inclusive than exclusive; not getting as hung up on what you can’t eat, but really understanding why healthy food matters and that a calorie isn’t just a calorie.
As for where it goes, hard to say. More research is popping up. More people are catching on. I think the pendulum is swinging back from the Paleo extreme to a better understanding of real food. Whole food. Things that grow. More “natural” eating, I guess is what I’m trying to say. So, folks may not be 100% “strict paleo,” but they acknowledge that real foods are better for them, and they make more of an effort to eat a cleaner diet (whatever that means to them individual).
What were some of the reasons behind starting your newer Family Style meal line?
Because families are hungry and busy, too. I grew up eating around the dinner table with my family. Nothing too intricate, sometimes things from a box or a can. I’m 40 now, and it seems like there’s less time than there was when we were growing up to sit and have a meal. So, modPALEO can get a family something to heat and eat and not have to worry about the time and effort spent shopping, preparing, cooking and cleaning up afterwards. Parents and kids can share 15-20 minutes to catch up over good food in between the 4,243 things parents and kids have to do these days.
What was the idea behind your modVEG line? Do you work with Paleo Vegetarians and Paleo Vegans?
“Pegans,” as I’ve seen them described? We do, on a small scale. But we intend to put more R&D into Veg items, with Chef Tara Cameron. She likes big flavors and spent a couple of years in India, sharpening her spice game. The thought with the Veg items is really two fold: 1. we found we were serving a “house divided” in some instances, where one person was vegetarian and the other ate meat. 2. Veg items can also be used as sides – so if you like to grill or cook your own protein, here’s a great side item.
A big thank you to Carter for answering all of our questions!
If you have your own questions for Carter, he can be reached by sending a message to the ModPALEO customer service team.
Note: ModPALEO has recently changed their name to The Good Kitchen. They still focus primarily on Paleo meals. We cover their new offerings in more depth in our article about Paleo food delivery companies.