Pure Market Express Offers Raw Food to Go

Quentin and Rebecca IreyQuentin and Rebecca Irey"We want to change people's lives," Quentin Irey tells me, "we want to bring raw food to the masses." I'm trying to listen while eating a plate of food on which nothing is what it sounds like. Quentin and his wife Rebecca, the Twin Cities entrepreneurs who recently founded Pure Market Express, have just served me samples of four raw foods, and they won't say any more until I've tried what they're calling a bacon jalapeno popper. What concerns me is that the "bacon" they're serving is made from eggplant, and the "cheese" is a mixture of pine nuts, chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The thing is small, so I eat it whole, just one bite. The taste is nothing like any bacon jalapeno popper I've had before. Something about it tastes healthy, somehow, but it's definitely not bad. It might even be good. I haven't decided yet.

Rebecca tells me that she used to be 100 pounds overweight. She tried every fad diet in the book. When she was introduced to raw food more than six years ago at a women's retreat, she "poo-poo'd" the idea. Raw food was yucky, she thought, "it's not for me." But something about it stuck, and Rebecca was compelled to try to prepare raw foods herself. Did I mention that Rebecca currently homeschools her six kids while running Pure Market Express, creating the menu, and keeping her hands in the family's other business, producing medical documentation? I can tell right away that she is full of energy and resilience, and that she doesn't give up. 

This must be why the fact that her food tasted awful back in 2006 didn't stop Rebecca from force-feeding it to her family at every turn. Eating nothing but raw food, Rebecca watched the pounds melt away. She kept trying new recipes, determined to make something her family would like. No luck.

The turning point came in 2007, when Quentin gave the entire family a gift, sending Rebecca to an intensive training program in New Hampshire where she became a certified raw chef. Rebecca came home eager to share what she'd learned. Soon, the idea for Pure Market Express was born.

Pure Market Express is for people who want to eat raw food but don't have the time - or desire - to prepare it themselves. In this way, it's a lot like any other prepared food you'd find in a store. It's just  much healthier. The "to go" food I sampled at home, including raw pad thai (zucchini, baby bella mushrooms, red bell pepper, mung bean sprouts, cashew butter, tamarind, and more), was more interesting than delicious. While I enjoyed the novelty of the food and the flavors, I wasn't sure I'd ever be going back for seconds. But the food I sampled at Pure Market Express' Chaska location (pictured here) was tasty, from the pineapple slaw made with sweet potatoes to the sundried tomato basil cheese served with carrotini crackers. The chocolate cheesecake, with a strong hint of coconut and a nutty crust, was delicious.

The Ireys focus is on creating tasty foods that anyone can enjoy - not necessarily on producing food that is 100% raw. You'll find maple syrup in some of their foods, for example. Rebecca and Quentin are unapologetic about their approach, admitting to making some "practical" decisions where taste is concerned.

Pure Market Express currently sources many of its ingredients locally, from farms like Riverbend Farm in Delano, MN and Peterson Produce in Waconia, MN. They are also working with a variety of farms throughout the United States to source more organic and "small farm" produce during the Winter months. One day, Rebecca and Quentin hope to start their own farm to grow their own produce.

One of my favorites parts of my visit was meeting the Irey's charming young son Noah, who offered me samples and cleared my plate. Noah is an aspiring raw chef as well, and is pictured here with his own tasty raw creation, Green Sweet Tart Juice. Deee-lish!

Pure Market Express food is available by mail, at their Chaska location, and at Lakewinds Co-ops. Their storefront is located at 500 Chestnut Street, Chaska, MN 55318

You can read my email interview with Rebecca Irey here.