SALT LAKE CITY — This is a story about health being more important than money, about silver linings emerging from dark clouds, and about how even in bad times there’s such a thing as good timing.
Meet the Schilds, a close-knit, caring family that four years ago was confronted with a head-scratcher of a medical problem involving their teenage daughter, Catalin.
Catalin felt weak and listless and kept losing weight. She got down to as low as 83 pounds as a series of doctors puzzled for months over what was wrong — until finally she was diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by proteins known as glutens that are found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains.
Although celiac disease is becoming more common, Catalin’s case was particularly egregious because of the time it took to figure out what was going on. By the time she was diagnosed, just cutting out glutens wasn’t enough. Her system was damaged to the point that even nongluten foods that were tainted by chemicals and pesticides were continuing to make her sick.
That’s when Chris and Kristin, Catalin’s parents, realized that if their daughter was going to get better, they needed to become food detectives. They needed to make sure that the food that entered their household was 100% safe.
If eating wrong had gotten their daughter into this predicament, eating right would get her out.
And so it began. Whatever Catalin consumed, they made it their business to know where it came from, how it was grown, who handled it, when it was picked. Getting into their pantry required more background checks than getting into the Pentagon.
Rather quickly, two things happened:
Catalin started feeling like her old self; her weight returned, along with her vibrancy and smile.
Kristin and Chris decided to start a farm-to-table business.
And not just any farm, but a farm where everything that was grown and raised would be absolutely, certifiably organic and clean – and ready to be delivered as soon as it was ripe.
Exactly the kind of place they wished had been around when their daughter got sick.
It helped that Chris and Kristin are entrepreneurs at heart. In 2017, when they started to brainstorm their clean-farm concept, she was an automotive journalist, test driving cars and writing about it, and he was working for a large farming organization selling tomatoes to national grocery chains.
Enthused about trying something new, they recruited investors and bought a 600-acre piece of property in Snowville, just this side of the Utah-Idaho border in Box Elder County. They set to work clearing the land, regenerating the soil and constructing greenhouses capable of producing food on a year-round basis. In the summer of 2019, they started planting crops and raising livestock.
Finally, they were ready to launch their home delivery business this past April.
Just as the pandemic hit.
The most prescient marketing department in the world couldn’t have picked a better time to offer people an alternative to going to the grocery store.
“It was right at the tip of the COVID food-hoarding situation,” remembered Kristin. “So we had a lot of people who realized how fragile our food system is.”
Business has been brisk ever since. Every Wednesday, delivery vans bearing the logo of Kristin’s Farm Stand pull out of Snowville and proceed to make deliveries up and down the Wasatch Front and Back – with no personal contact. Customers do their shopping online (at kristinsfarmstand.com) and are alerted online that their order has been delivered and is waiting on their front porch.
Kristin said the business’s clientele ranges across the spectrum, from young and old, from “foodies” to folks who need clean food for acute medical problems.
“We have one customer who has stomach issues,” said Kristin. “When she found us she had been on a feeding tube for an extended period of time. The only thing she could eat was corn-free and soy-free pasteurized eggs. Over the course of weeks of her eating our eggs and then some simple microgreens and other items easy to digest, her appearance changed from very pallid and gray to robust and healthy.
“To see a change like that in someone,” exulted Kristin, “it’s like, ‘Wow.’ Food really is the most powerful medicine that exists.”