CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Wild Harvest here is bolstering its health-oriented reputation by creating fresh dishes targeted to alternative diets.
The three-store natural-food supermarket format, operated by Star Market here, is also teaming up with a nonprofit traditional-food educational organization to promote healthier home cooking.
Wild Harvest identifies a number of dishes sold from Harvest Table, its prepared-food section, as developed with special attention to health-conscious consumers. Dishes are identified as low-fat, low-salt, low-calorie, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan, with a system using product signs in corresponding colors in the merchandising case.
Wild Harvest is also calling attention to its health-oriented positioning in the market with help from members of Chefs Collaborative 2000, an educational initiative of Cambridge-based Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust.
Chefs from the program have been appearing in the three Massachusetts Wild Markets since September as part of Wild Harvest's Chef Series. The guest chefs are demonstrating cooking methods, working with unusual produce or simply sampling dishes focusing on healthy eating.
"We're using primarily members of the Chefs Collaborative to promote the use of produce that is clean, local and organic wherever possible, and to make the dishes as plant-based as possible, and using, of course, Wild Harvest products," said Annie Copps, program manager of Oldways.
Oldways selects for the program chefs who are generally local restaurateurs or cookbook authors and members of the collaborative.
In return, Wild Harvest promotes Oldways and its works -- like the Mediterranean, Asian and Latin American food pyramid the group has developed with international chefs, dietitians and public health officials -- in the company's weekly circular along with the Chef Series listings.
Wild Harvest not only can attract consumers looking for new recipes, but also potentially benefits when those consumers learn about unfamiliar products, said the manager from Oldways.
"People are much more sophisticated now, yet they see things like chayote and purple potatoes and they don't know what to do with them," said Copps. "If they see a chef do something that's very simple and very flavorful, they discover they can do it themselves."
High-profile chefs in the program are more likely to create enthusiasm among consumers than manufacturer demonstrators, said Copps. One such celebrity chef is Todd English, chef/owner of Olives and Figs in the Boston area and James Beard Foundation best chef of the Northeast in 1994, who appeared at the Andover, Mass., Wild Harvest recently.
"These are people who make their living challenging people's palates. People react to them," Copps commented.
Oldways would like to expand its supermarket programs to other interested retailers, with programs such as the Chef Series, Copps added. "We'd love to work with any number of food markets; the more people we can talk to about these things, the better."