Home September 2012 Entrepreneurial Endeavor

Entrepreneurial Endeavor

I grew up eating bread every chance I could.  Ironically, for many Ashkenazi Jews, this might be hurting our bodies more than helping.  As a kid I always was fighting respiratory infections, sport induced asthma and eczema.  After many years of medicine, I began to correlate my illnesses with my love of bread products.
After two years of no gluten or dairy, my trips to the doctor have decreased by 80 percent.  I learned this allergy or intolerance might have to deal with my Ashkenazi roots. Although this allergy can be found in both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews they afflict Ashkenazis as much as 20 to 100 times more frequently.
Doctors have concluded that the theory behind why allergies are so prevalent amongst the Jewish community comes from the “Founder Effect” and the “Genetic Drift.”  JewishGenetics.org explains that the founders have a genetic disposition.  Since the Jewish community has a low rate of intermarriage, the frequency of other genes introduced to the community is fewer.  Without variation, the ethnic group continues to produce people with the same genetic challenges.
If you were not born with allergies, but develop them over time, Dr. Robert Wood from Food Allergies for Dummies explains, “The onset of a food allergy is brought on by a genetic susceptibility and exposure to the problem food.  The more exposure to the problem food, the higher the risk of developing an allergy to it if you’re susceptible.”
Parker Weinthal is a founder of “A Couple of Smart Cookies” and a current resident at Moishe House Orange County.  Weinthal realized that between his Jewish community, his peers and some children he assists with challenges, there is a market for food products geared towards a gluten-free lifestyle.  Gluten restrictions can be difficult when desiring delicious treats.  Weinthal created an entrepreneurial endeavor as a response to needs like my own.
A Couple of Smart Cookies was created in the Orange County and Los Angeles area.  Smart Planet Kitchen was founded in 2008 by four people who understood dietary restrictions and affordability: Howard Weinthal, Janet Berger, Jill Weinthal and Parker Weinthal.  Cole Young, a product developer, joined in 2011.  This team recognizes that by making affordable products without ingredients that may cause allergic reactions, it is improving people’s quality of life.
“In these hard economic times, paying a premium for food is a challenge,” Weinthal continued, “… there is this ‘siege’ mentality for those with allergies, such a dearth of affordable choices.  It is an unfair system where, allergen-positive people have to pay such a large premium to enjoy a lifestyle they had before.”
In addition to attention to simple ingredients, Smart Planet Kitchen is kosher.  Maintaining a kosher and allergy-friendly company opens up doors for people like me.  Many Moishe House and Young Leadership Division participants are gluten-sensitive as well.  Concern for people’s wellbeing sets businesses like Weinthal’s apart from the others and truly becomes a Jewish endeavor.
For Weinthal, his love for baking became a catalyst for change.  This venture is hopefully one of many that aids the Jewish world and empowers young business-minded adults to strive to meet the needs of our community.
* A Couple of Smart Cookies can be found at all Mother’s Markets, Hanson’s Market (South County), The Bite Market Orange, Co-Opportunity in Los Angeles and 60 other locations, including Missouri, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.

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  1. I can’t get over the number of gluten-free bakeries and products, even in Tucson! Weinthal hits it with making the products AFFORDABLE. Kudos to you!


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