Meet The New Frozen Food Line Sourced From a Stone's Throw Away
There’s nothing in the world that Ben James, Founder, and Local Hash Guy of Stone’s Throw Hash, would rather do than sit by a campfire in the great outdoors. A self-proclaimed outdoorsman, Ben grew up in central Virginia, where he developed a love for fly fishing, camping, and hiking. Now, as a father of three (to two humans and a dog named River), Ben is balancing family, running a successful food business, and spending as much time outdoors as he can.
Ben’s business Stone’s Throw Hash is launching a line of packaged hash meals available in the frozen food aisle. The initial launch will include three flavors: Bay Be Blue Crab, Chorz is Good, and Veg is Good, all made with fresh and local ingredients. But how did an outdoorsman go from fly fishing to running a successful food business? Read on!
Ben left his small town to attend college at the University of Mary Washington, where he played on the baseball team. Post-grad, Ben’s interest in the world of business led him to pursue an MBA at Washington University in St. Louis. “I was a career marketer,” Ben explained. But it wasn’t just any marketing, Ben was a brand manager at Nestle Purina and Ocean Spray, (you know the famous commercials of two farmers standing hip-deep in a field of cranberries.) At these jobs Ben was learning the ins and outs of successfully positioning a food brand’s image. He may not have known it at the time but he was building skills in the packaged food industry that would lead him to successfully launch a product of his own one day!
After years of having a hand in building major food brands, Ben was ready to take on something of his own. About three years ago, Ben was living in Boston and taking a course on sustainable food ecosystems in his spare time. He was shocked to learn that only 1% of food consumed in the U.S. is regionally sourced (defined as within 400 miles of its end destination). As someone who grew up in rural Virginia working on small farms as a kid, this statistic really hit home for him. It was then, Ben decided he wanted to be the catalyst to drive more local and regional food consumption.
As Ben began to consider what product would work well with a regional sourcing model, he quickly concluded that his favorite breakfast cuisine, hash, would be a perfect fit! Ben's love of hash developed eight years prior when he discovered his wheat allergy and had to change his diet drastically. He began to experiment with hash as a delicious, gluten-free breakfast option. After years of tinkering, Stone’s Throw Hash was born. All of the brand’s products are regionally sourced whenever possible (from just a stone’s throw away), low in calorie, nutrient-dense, and gluten-free!
Despite Ben’s vast experience in the food space, his journey from marketer to entrepreneur was not easy. When Stone’s Throw Hash first launched in farmers markets in the spring of 2019, Ben ordered two pallets or 1,000 pounds worth of sweet potatoes with the idea of preparing and freezing ingredients to get ahead on production. Ben had to employ almost his entire extended family (two aunts, two uncles, his in-laws, parents, cousin, and wife) over three weekends in February to chop all of the potatoes by hand. There were lots of blisters and sore hands by the end of it! Ben has since learned to manage his operations more efficiently out of the Union Kitchen manufacturing facility (and his family is grateful for that).
After significant success at Farmers Markets and pop-up shops around the DMV and Baltimore, Ben was ready to take the business to its next phase. With a keen background in the food industry, Ben knew that Grocery and CPG is the perfect space for emerging food brands to make big wins. Stone’s Throw Hash will continue to offer Made to Order products with their food truck, farmers markets, catering, and pop-ups, while also launching their CPG line in Union Kitchen stores and direct to consumers on their website this fall.
Ben and the Stone’s Throw Hash team believe that local food is incredibly important to local economies and the food system’s sustainability and strive to source local ingredients whenever possible. Additionally, every time customers purchase a Stone’s Throw Hash product, the company will donate 1% revenue to local farming initiatives.
Next time you are in the neighborhood, stop by a Union Kitchen store to grab a bag of Stone Throw’s Hash!