A Chat With Justin Rashid, founder and president, American Spoon Foods
CS: What are your hobbies?
JR: Obviously, wild food foraging. Cross-country skiing, hiking. From June 1 through the first week of October, I swim almost every day in Lake Michigan. And I’m a voracious reader. The winters here are very conducive to reading.
CS: I guess it’s either reading or cross country skiing.
CS: What are some of your favorite books?
JR: Oh gosh, well the one I’m reading right now is “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which I highly recommend. I think you’d find it really interesting. I think the author’s name is Michael Pollan, if I’m not mistaken.
CS: While you’re out foraging, what are some of your favorite wild foods?
JR: I started out picking berries, but I moved on as I got older. Now I love to forage for all kinds of wild mushrooms. In the autumn that’s probably my favorite thing. I’m a mycophagist, which is a person who likes to eat wild mushrooms, as opposed to a mycologist, who just studies all kinds of fungus. I just go for the edible varieties. It can be very dangerous, and you have to be very precise. I pick wild greens, wild vegetables and wild fruits as well.
CS: What goals do you have for the catalog and what steps will you take to achieve them?
JR: In terms of the catalog, we’re really interested in steady incremental growth. We’ve built our mailing list through our retail stores and the national recognition we’ve gotten by trying to produce spectacular products. People often come to us, thankfully, when they read about us. This past year, we were given the Gallo family vineyards gold medal for the best artisanal condiment. Things like that, recognition like that has been instrumental for us. You have to distinguish yourself. When we began there were just three American specialty food companies. And we’ll be 25 next year. We’re an old-timer in this business, but now it’s a crowded field. And there are only a handful that have really authentically wonderful products.