By Curt Peterson
Caroline Olsen’s college-age stomach aches evolved into a thriving young business making cashew milk products in Woodstock.
According to the Nutty Life LLC website, nutty-milk.com, Olsen’s addiction to frozen yogurt while studying at Boston College upset her digestive system. Suspecting lactose intolerance, she switched to almond milk, but found little relief. Inquisitive, she discovered something relevant to the Nutty Life story – that frozen yogurt and commercial brands of nut milk contain gums and carrageenan to thicken the products and keep them from separating – the nuts and dairy products from the water – in the containers.
Olsen’s deduction – the gums and carrageenan were causing her distress.
“Gums are known to cause bowel issues (i.e. stomach aches) in lab rats. and carrageenan, the same chemical used to de-ice airplanes, is a known carcinogen, causing colon cancer and bowel inflammation in lab rats,” the website states.
The Maryland native continued her studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and developed her own products—called Nutty Life. She uses cashews and only natural ingredients – no gums or carrageenans. She sold her first products in Boston area stores but she’s since relocated to Woodstock.
Caroline met her husband Craig through an online dating service. He introduced her to Woodstock, where he had vacationed as a child. They bought a second home in the village, then bought a permanent home outside of town. Caroline commuted to Boston to make and market Nutty-Milk products.
“One trip started at 5 a.m. and I didn’t get back to Woodstock until 3 a.m. the next morning,” Olsen told The Mountain Times. “That convinced me to move the business to Vermont.”
The couple recently had a son, Wesley, an addition that would have made a Boston commute nearly impossible.
Nutty’s cashew products are all organic, come in PET BFA-free plastic bottles, and include Strawberry Vanilla (in season), Nuts Over Chocolate, and Vanilla Bean flavors. Other products are Vegan Cookie Dough in Cinnamon Oat Delight and Cheery Cherry Chocolate flavors. You can also buy “Make Your Own Cashew Milk” kits.
Products are shipped in coolers with dry ice and must be kept refrigerated.
Sales are offered on-line, and in local stores such as Brownsville Butcher and Bakery, Jake’s Quechee Market, Lebanon/Hanover/Rutland co-ops, South Woodstock Country Store, Woodstock Farmer’s Market and the Woodstock Inn, among others.
“We are talking to some major grocery chains about carrying Nutty-Milk products too,” Olsen said. “But if we are successful they won’t be on the shelves until early 2020.”
In addition to making and selling Nutty-Milk, the Olsens have developed Vermont Kitchen, a shared commercial cooking facility available for use by local producers of food products.