The Daily Dirt

Verdant Kitchen Named One of Oprah’s Favorite Things

slideshow_1Unbeknownst to Ross Harding, co-founder of Verdant Kitchen in Savannah, Ga., a cocktail party in New York City was about to change his life.

Verdant Kitchen, described as a gourmet wellness business, sells a variety of products but focuses primarily on ginger and turmeric infused delights, like syrup and honey. The majority of their products are grown on a USDA Certified Organic farm at Lebanon Plantation in Savannah and processed at one of two USDA Certified Organic processing facilities in Atlanta.

His farm was exactly what the staff of “O” magazine were dreaming of while bemoaning the fact that their Moscow Mule cocktails had to use ginger imported from outside the US. As the staff were expressing their disappointment at a lack of American options, the daughter of a part-time carpenter who works on the farm piped up and informed them about Verdant Kitchen.

From there, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Harding and his team.

First came the initial request for a taste of ginger syrup. From there, different combinations of bottles, packaging, and products were assessed by the creative team at the magazine. Then came a preliminary nod. Finally, Oprah Winfrey gave it her blessing.

“This is amazing,” writes “O” magazine. “Get the healthful benefits of ginger in the form of a luscious honey (to stir into tea) or a zingy organic syrup (the cocktail possibilities are endless), both made in Georgia.”

It’s been madness since then.

“We’ve been so blown off our feet,” says Harding. “It’s been seven days a week at 20 hour days just to keep up.”

Though a boost from Oprah is extremely helpful, Harding has been growing Verdant Kitchen since 2012. Harding credits the exquisite flavor of Verdant Kitchen’s products, and the steady growth of his business, to organically grown ingredients.

“I lived [in Belgium] for four years and only ate from farmers markets,” said Harding. “But I still remember the first tomato I got from a market. I took it home, ate it and thought, ‘What the hell is this? What could possibly taste this good? This has nothing to do with any tomato I’ve ever eaten.’ Maybe it was my Julia Childs moment, but I realized that products grown the right way are intensely flavorful.”

From there, Harding was hooked on organic food for the flavor alone. As he told Georgia Organics, “You can’t improve upon the ingredients.”

Harding understands the challenges involved in producing organic food. It isn’t the easiest option, nor is it the most cost effective option. But building a gourmet wellness business requires the most premium ingredients.

Additionally, Harding says, the concept that organic foods are expensive is backwards.

“Organic food is not that expensive,” said Harding. “It’s that the rest of the food is so cheap.”

Harding isn’t planning to march on Washington and demand an end to federal corn and oil subsidies – certainly not in the midst of the busiest season Verdant Kitchen has ever been.

Instead, he is keeping his eyes on their ultimate goal: Creating delicious, healthy food.

“We try to take the spice and turn it in to a product that is delicious, simple and, where possible, healthy,” said Harding.

In that light, Harding was kind enough to supply us with a couple of suggestions for Verdant Kitchen’s ginger syrup and honey, which you can purchase here.

The honey: “Take sliced apples and drizzle Verdant Kitchen Ginger Honey on it. It is wonderful, it is so good. Think an old school candy apple with a bite of ginger.”

The syrup: “I would say my favorite drink is a Dark and Stormy. Really simple. Dark rum with Verdant Kitchen Ginger Syrup and a splash of soda. You’re got rum coming out of the cane, it’s dark, spicy, and makes a really nice winter drink.”

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