Interview With Zora Tabin of Wild Zora Foods
A Wild Zora appears! Wild Zora makes meat bars with organic veggies. They’re super tasty! Your kids will most likely get the reference, but Wild Zora Bars are not just for kids. Originally created as an alternative to sugary, grain-filled snacks and/or beef jerky, Wild Zora took off after word of mouth got around across the playground. Today we talked to Zora Tabin of Wild Zora Foods about her story and her Certified Paleo grass-fed meat and veggie bars.
Thanks for taking some time for us today, Zora. Can you tell us about yourself and the story of how Wild Zora got started as a business?
My name is Zora Tabin. I grew up in the country then known as Czechoslovakia where my dad worked in agriculture and both my parents and the whole family spent a lot of time on farms and only eating “real food” that grew on or in the ground.
After moving to the United States, I noticed how many ingredients in the “food” on the grocery shelves were hard to pronounce and were obviously not natural… So in early 2011, our family started to learn about “real food” initiatives (including the Paleo diet). We especially had a hard time finding snacks that met this standard, and so beginning in 2013, we decided to create our own alternative.
At home, we always consider meat AND vegetables a complete meal, so we started to mix and dehydrate 100% grass-fed beef from a local rancher along with fresh vegetables from our garden. We discovered we could make super tasty meat and veggie snacks that our family really enjoyed!
Our kids started sharing our meat and veggie bars with their friends at school, and soon many of our friends insisted we start a business to sell them. We now make our bars in our own fully USDA-certified kitchen in Loveland, Colorado.
What exactly is in these snack bars? Where do you get your ingredients?
All our meats are completely natural, meaning they are humanely raised and have no added growth hormones or antibiotics. Our beef is “100% grass-fed” and our turkey is “free-range” (turkeys don’t eat grass). We pay attention not only to the labels on the meat but also on how the animals are treated — for example, we once tried a “grass-fed” lamb from Colorado… but when the animals struggle to get through the harsh winters, it really affected the amount of fat in the final product, and the taste just wasn’t up to our standards.
We now use an “all-natural” lamb from a local rancher and the taste is superior. We believe that healthy and happy animals are more important than “organic” certifications — in fact, we once visited an “organic” farm where the animals lived on a feedlot (eating “organic” grains), never even seeing, let alone eating, grass. It was then we realized that we would have to rely on our own eyes and ears to find our meats and not just the certifications.
For our veggies and fruits, on the other hand, we do use organic-certified, but again we have vetted our sources carefully; and as well the Federal inspectors from the USDA (who monitor our production daily) ensure that third-party affidavits and other documentation are always in-order so that we can be sure we’re getting what we pay for.
When I was a kid, you couldn’t force me to eat veggies under penalty of doom. Has creating Wild Zora products helped in that department with your own kids?
Absolutely! We make a joke at home that we’ve “hidden” the veggies in the meat bars… When you look at our bars it’s sometimes even hard to see all the veggies in them (except maybe the spinach recipes that have so much chlorophyll in the spinach that it turns the meat green — our kids call that one, “Green Eggs and lamb!”). But seriously, when the veggies dehydrate they lose 92% of their fresh weight, so they really seem to “disappear” from the final product. Of course, this is just fine with our kids. 🙂
How did you find the Paleo community? Any fun stories to share? How have you been received in the Paleo community?
You know, we didn’t find them — they actually found us! At home we aren’t strictly Paleo, and when we made our bars we didn’t specifically have Paleo in mind… we just wanted to make snacks from “real food” without grains or added sugar or any other chemical garbage… But the Paleo folks discovered us and started to Tweet about us… and then we got invited to Paleo f(x)… I think that’s when we realized that (the majority of) our products really fit this Paleo market.
On your website (www.wildzora.com), you have featured 5 different flavors of Meat and Veggie Bars. Which one is your favorite? Which one is your kids favorite?
My husband and I enjoy all our recipes — some are better in certain situations than others; for example, we like the Chili recipe when we just want a little taste that will, “wet our whistle,” but when we’re really hungry we’ll go for BBQ or Lamb. The turkey is kind of in the middle, as it definitely has more spice, but not as much as the Chili.
I think the most favorite of mine and the kids’ is probably the Cheese, even though it’s not strictly Paleo. It’s made with an rBST-free and hormone-free parmesan cheese we get from Wisconsin. The kids call it, “The Pizza Flavor.” 🙂
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