The “Real” Behind Real Pickles

Dan Rosenberg explains the lacto-fermentation process

Dan Rosenberg started his business in 2001 not solely as a way to make a living, but as a way to make change. Real Pickles produces 12 naturally fermented vegetable products out of Greenfield, MA using produce from 6 organic farms within a 40 mile radius of their facility. You can find their products at over 350 natural food stores throughout New England. Since starting this endeavor, Dan and his crew have received well-deserved recognition from the press and organizations; they were deemed a “Local Hero” by CISA and won a Good Food Award for their Garlic Dill Pickles last year (they are finalists in the Good Food Awards again this year!).

Dan’s devotion to a regional food system definitely presents him challenges- our current industrial food system doesn’t provide much infrastructure for people wanting to support local farms. But the fact that Real Pickles exists and is thriving is a great indication of how more businesses could operate in the future to support a more regional and local food system.

Besides being devoted to local food, the folks at Real Pickles are ultra-conscious of their consumers and the world around them. Dan was inspired to start fermenting after learning about Dr. Weston A. Price, a researcher who found people living in non-industrialized societies that still consumed fermented foods had significant nutritional benefits compared to people in industrial societies (where fermented foods were replaced with their factory-made “sterile” foods). Real Pickles is pioneering the comeback of naturally fermented foods in this area, and health-conscious people are definitely starting to catch on. Real Pickles also has a blog, Ferment, in which the staff connects their work to what is happening in the world (OWS, sustainable agriculture, etc.).

In addition to their social awareness, Real Pickles as a business is a great model for an energy efficient operation, as they are aware of how their actions affect the environment. Less than a year ago, Real Pickles’ neighbors Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics installed solar panels on the roof of the Real Pickles facility, making them 100% solar powered. Besides using solely solar power, Real Pickles also strives to lower the amount of energy they need in the first place. They use very little machinery whatsoever and do most of their work by hand.

Real Pickles is a great model for a sustainable business that supports a local food system. Any person looking to help farmers in their area by processing their produce can learn so much from Dan and every other person who has helped make Real Pickles “real.”

[Astrid O’Connor]

Ginger Lover's variety pack (www.realpickles.com)
Cabbage-based Real Pickles products (www.realpickles.com)
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