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Celebrating 20,000 Hits: Interview with Christine Ortiz of “Milk & Honey Organics”

A few weeks ago, I met Christine at Everyday Organics Restaurant at Cherrydale in Greenville for a delightful lunch, as she allowed me to pick her brain. We became fast friends as we shared life stories, while splitting our chicken salad sandwich and Cherrydale Turkey sandwich. We both took half of each sandwich so we could try more menu items: both were delicious, as was the quinoa side salad! So, come along, as we learn from Christine, owner and founder of a great new small business called Milk & Honey Organics:

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: I was born in Oregon. In fact, my parents still live in the house I grew up in. My dad was a public school teacher and my mom was a substitute teacher and stay-at-home mom. I have 5 younger sisters. I remember going with my mom to co-ops and her bargaining with friends to share cases of different items for their families. My husband Ivan is from Florida. We met at a small college in Ohio. After college, we moved back to Florida. Certain aspects of our time in Florida were especially challenging. Eventually we found ourselves moving to South Carolina, and we are glad to be here.

Q: Who inspires you?

A: The Lord, first and foremost.

Q: Who motivates you?

A: My husband and children. We have two girls and two boys (ages 2-8), and one on the way. We like being surprised, but our pattern would say it’s time for a girl.

Q: Tell me about Milk & Honey Organics. How did you come up with the name? What inspired you or where did you get the idea for your organic delivery service? Etc.

A: As far as the name, when we were looking for a place to live and fell in love with Greenville, SC, we saw it as our “promised land,” our “land of milk and honey.” The inspiration for the business came several years ago, when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. He went on an organic diet that seemed to help him cope with his treatments. The doctors were amazed at how it helped him. So, we started eating organic then. At the time, we were living in Miami. Being pregnant with our second child, I was becomingly tired of dealing with traffic, long lines and poor customer service at my local grocery stores. We found a local organic delivery, started purchasing from them and enjoyed the service. When we decided to move to SC, we realized Greenville didn’t have an organic delivery service yet. We knew someone would do it, and thought, “Why not us?” We saw the need to link farmers and consumers and stepped up to the challenge. Ivan has a background in distribution, as well as an MBA. He talks about Milk & Honey Organics being my business, but he is “the brains and brawn of the operation.” If it weren’t for him, I couldn’t do it.

Q: How do you choose your vendors?

A: First, they have to be organic or committed to and currently using organic methods if they are local farmers. Second, we try to go with vendors that are as local as possible. During certain months, we branch out to regional suppliers to provide the most variety. Ultimately, the variety is based on value, as our main goal is to provide the greatest amount of produce at the lowest price to our customers. We also want local farmers to view Milk & Honey Organics as their partner rather than their competition. It’s very important to us to support local farmers and local communities. Our desire is to see Greenville farmers flourish and Greenville people live healthful lives.

Q: Why Organic?

A: Simply, we don’t want to eat poison.

Q: What percentage of time do you spend on your business?

A: I am always thinking about it, reading recipes, blogs, etc. I handle the administrative aspects of the business: Likes/Dislikes, Maps/Routes, etc.

Q: Where do you see Milk & Honey Organics in 1 year? In 5 years?

A: In one year, hopefully 100% local. In five years, I would love to be able to have customers input their meal plan for the week on our site and have specific items delivered to their homes.

Q: Do you have any key advice for someone wanting to start their own business?

A: It is not for the faint of heart.

Q: What does Health mean to you?

A: Health is living a long, happy life. It’s about attitude and state of mind as much as it’s about physical state of being.

Q: Where do you shop for things other than organic produce?

A: I place a monthly order with UNFI’s co-op for things like raisins, beans, grains, Ezekiel cereals, etc. Feel free to email me about how to order if you’re interested (contact information on Milk & Honey Organics site). I also order things like spices, shampoos, and other goods from Frontier’s online co-op on a monthly basis.

This next section is more a list of her favorite things:

  • Favorite Fruit: Oregon Strawberries (sorry, you probably won’t see these in your local basket anytime soon) or Raspberries
  • Favorite Vegetable: Brussel Sprouts or Lacto-Fermented Cucumbers (aka, Pickles)
  • Favorite Seasoning: Mama’s Garlic Seasoning from Frontier Brand
  • Favorite Meal: a good steak, potato, and salad (it’s the Irish in me)
  • Favorite Book: The Bible and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, “my bedside Bible and my kitchen bible”. Another good one by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig is Eat Fat, Lose Fat.
  • Favorite Exercise: gardening!
  • Favorite Blog: I read hundreds of blogs; they’re like my morning paper! I especially like anything associated with Weston A. Price.
  • Favorite Hobbies: Other than reading blogs and gardening, I am a certified Montessori teacher.

Thanks for joining us on this interview, and for celebrating 20,000 hits at My Journey to Lean! If you haven’t placed your order for Milk & Honey Organics to be delivered to you yet, there’s no time like the present! (Just don’t forget to fill out the survey on their site with your likes/dislikes and get your $5 off coupon code!)

Thanks for reading and enjoy the journey! ~Melissa