We spent the last two days visiting Rochester, New York with one of our favorite companies: Love Beets!
If you’re unfamiliar with Love Beets, they produce a number of beet-related products. Their products include whole organic cooked beets, beet salsa, beet juice, and more. Beets, as you likely know, are an incredibly nutritious vegetable, but they’re not the most approachable produce. Cooking them can be messy and time-consuming. Love Beets does the work for you by making beets a convenient (and delicious!) addition to your daily diet. Whether you add their Sweet & Smoky Shredded Beets to a burger or throw a tablespoon of Beet Powder in your morning berry smoothie, you’re getting high-quality nutrients. Not to mention, you’re supporting a company that encourages Americans to eat more healthier, whole foods.
Love Beets is a fantastic company run by an equally fantastic group of people. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Love Beets on a few occasions in the past, but this is the first time we were able to meet their team in person. They organized a beautiful event for us and about 25 other bloggers/Instagrammers, during which we had a chance not only to learn more about how they produce their beets, but also to enjoy plenty of beet-inspired dishes and some great company. Below are some of our favorite moments from the trip!
Day One: Tour of the Love Beets Facility
The Love Beets facility is located just outside of Rochester, NY in an old warehouse that used to be occupied by Kodak (in an industrial complex that spans 7 miles – one of the largest (if not definitely the largest) in America). In recent years, a number of new companies have established production headquarters in this complex, bringing new business and economic rejuvenation to Rochester.
The Love Beets production facility is top-notch. We could see clearly that their team is very passionate about what they do and the quality of their products. A plant manager led our tour. He has been with the company since it’s inception a few years ago. We saw the entire production process. First we saw raw beets come in straight from the farms. The beets are categorized by size in gigantic wooden crates. Next, we saw the process of checking each beet by hand to ensure quality. And finally, packaging and arranging for shipment across the country.
Many of Love Beets’ products are completely organic. Amazingly, there are not enough organic beet farmers in the US to sustain their production growth. So they’re working to help more farmers become certified. (How cool, right?) We learned a lot more about organic beet farming at an actual farm outside of Rochester. More on that later…
Workers sort the beets by size and shape. Some larger (or smaller), abnormally-shaped beets will become beet powder or shredded beets. There is very little waste in the whole production. Much of the raw materials (peels, etc) go back to the farms as compost for enriched soil.
Love Beets is committed to sustainability and finding innovative ways to reduce plastic. Many of their products use plastic. However, it was quite fascinating to learn that there’s really no viable alternative available currently. Their team looks for new ways to reduce the overall amount of plastic in production. They also use completely recyclable materials. Love Beets is confident that better, more sustainable plastic-free alternatives will be available within 10 years. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how their product packaging adapts to those changes!
After the production facility tour, we headed about an hour outside of Rochester to an organic beet farm. (I know, I know…where’s Dwight Schrute?!) It was a touch overcast, but absolutely gorgeous (we love moody lighting, so we weren’t too disappointed ;)). Over 100 acres of BEETS in every direction! This was our favorite part of the trip. It’s amazing to see the incredibly hard work that goes into organic farming before the beets even make it to production.
Organic farming is far trickier than regular farming in a number of ways. Of course, that explains the difference in cost between organic and non-organic products. For example, non-organic farmers use pesticides to kill harmful weeds that might otherwise affect crop growth and health. Organic farmers must hand-pick weeds before they become a permanent problem. If you can’t imagine the vastness of 100+ acres of beets, we can assure you, hand picking weeds would take a hell of a long time!
Love Beets works in collaboration with their farmers and local experts to improve crops. They work to solve farming issues before they have the potential to destroy entire yields. Love Beets has invested in drone technology, specifically. Drones can spot potentially disastrous issues, like plant diseases, soil deficiencies, etc, long before the human eye. Drone technology has improved farming in a number of ways. In just 7-9 seconds, a drone can count every single vegetable in an entire field! Can you imagine doing that by hand? The cameras used in these drones include standard RGB imagery (visible light) and infrared imagery, which provides information about soil health, changes in crop health, etc.
We pull some veggies straight from the ground. They’re delicious even raw! Doesn’t get any fresher than that.
Dinner & Drinks with Love Beets
After some down time, we all headed to a local restaurant. We ate a special menu at The Owl House. Everything tasted delicious – (every course had gf/vegan options, yay!). It was a beautiful, albeit humid evening.
We enjoyed a lovely cocktail hour with small bites and lots of red cocktails, and then sat down for dinner at beautiful tables they had set up on the terrace. Dinner included a Grilled Radicchio & Mustard Greens Salad, King Oyster Mushrooms with an apple carrot slaw, Japanese Eggplant with beet pomegranate gastrique, five spice roasted brussels sprouts and beets and lime cilantro rice. And the best of all…Sweet Beet + Ginger Vegan Ice Cream Bars coated in chocolate. So. Good.
Day two: Food Photography Workshop
After sleeping in a bit, we all headed to a food photography workshop. Cara Livermore, the founder of Chickpea Magazine (a vegan quarterly), led the event. It was hosted at the Brainery – a beautiful event space in Rochester.
Our favorite part was learning a bit about how to best style ugly foods – as Cara mentioned, some of the best ways to remedy a less-than-sensational photoshoot include thinking about lighting, angles, and bringing life into the photo. Cara has inspired us to slow down a bit in our photography process and document a recipe from start to finish, including some of the messier, more human moments involved in cooking.
Once the wedding is over next month and we finally settle down for a while, we’ll include more cooking step shots, not just the final beauty shot!
Once the workshop concluded, we headed back to the hotel for final farewells and went our separate ways. We can’t forget to mention how well-fed the Love Beets team kept us at all times. From an avocado toast bar for Monday’s brunch, to a ridiculous amount of amazing snacks in our hotel room (seriously – check out the photos below!). We’re so grateful for their generosity and kindness.
It’s always lovely to meet IG friends in real life. We’re so inspired by other like-minded creatives that love food and photography as much as we do! Now back to real life and a few busy weeks before we get back on the road for the wedding!
Thanks for following along, and we hope you’re as enthused about these pink plants as we are! And to get you more excited, here’s a recipe for Veggie Burgers with Smokey Shredded Beets and Avocado.