By Shannon Hazlitt Harts
Today’s Made in the FLX featured product is an innovative culinary oil sourced from Finger Lakes grown vegetable seeds, but it began as something much different—a bakery.
In 2006, Greg Woodworth and Kelly Coughlin had just relocated their online cookie company to Geneva when a farmer came to them with some butternut squash seeds and intriguing ideas for reducing food waste from Cornell University, according to Stony Brook’s website. Woodworth initially thought the seeds could be reused to create a butter substitute for the cookies. However, working with Cornell’s Food Venture program also based in Geneva, they created a product that they could sell on its own in sleek, dark-green bottles: expeller pressed culinary oils that can be used like olive oil.
Kelly and Greg soon found the oil they created with the seeds that would otherwise be compost was so delicious, nutritional, and economic for local farmers, they decided to close their bakery and focus on developing their oil-focused business. They become business partners with Martin Farms in Brockport, which sources all of the pumpkin and squash seeds they make into oils.
“When we started the company and required capital, we thought to invite the Martin family instead of conventional funding—going to Redman Road instead of Wall Street!” Woodworth says.
Edible Finger Lakes recognized Stony Brook oils in 2011 as a Local Artisan Hero for their product’s success and benefits for farmers, consumer nutrition, and the planet.
Today, Stony Brook WholeheartedFoods is still based in Geneva and works with Cornell’s Food Venture program, but it has expanded to making other products from locally-sourced seeds. These include pepitas and pumpkin seed snacks in addition to seed protein powders. The protein powders are made with only one ingredient—milled seeds that are first expeller-pressed to make seed oil—and also offer the nutrient boost of minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese, and magnesium.
Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods also offers oils sourced from sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Uses for the sunflower seed oil include marinades for chicken, salmon or pork. The pumpkin seed and flax seed oils can be drizzled over a variety of fruits and veggies including avocado, sweet potatoes, spinach and green beans. Finally, the butternut squash oil can be poured over popcorn, salads and mashed potatoes in addition to brushed on fish or vegetables before grilling.
Many major grocery store chains carry pumpkin and sunflower seeds, in addition to seed oils, that originate in China or Eastern Europe. However, Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods is committed to working directly with Finger Lakes farmers following the fall harvest. Martin Farms still supplies all of Stony Brook’s pumpkin seeds and they source their sunflower seeds from Gianforte Farms, Lakeview Organics and Frederick Farms.
You can find these versatile, sustainably produced, and delectable products at retail locations in about 33 states and even in Canada! Right here in the Finger Lakes Region you can find them at many wineries and at the Green Star Market in Ithaca, the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, the Pinwheel Market & Cafe in Penn Yan, and the Red Jacket Orchards Farm Store in Geneva.
To learn more and order online, visit store.wholeheartedfoods.com.
Made in the FLX is a weekly column highlighting the small scale food producers of the Finger Lakes. Each week we will feature a locally made food product that is distributed widely throughout the region and beyond, showcasing the strength and quality of our local resources.