By: Jane Porter
Shari Leidich was curled on the floor in her children’s room, crying. At 37, she was a mother of three and nearly incapacitated by the nerve ending discomfort and numbness of multiple sclerosis (MS), an auto-immune disease that attacks the nervous system. The intravenous steroid treatment she had started wasn’t helping. Little did she know that the raw food diet she started in desperation seven years ago would lead to her founding Two Moms In the Raw, a family business whose organic granola and other snacks are today found on the shelves of grocers and coffee shops around the country.
Leidich was first persuaded by an herbalist to try a raw-food diet when she was a few months into her steroid treatment. While the pain in her muscles and joints began to subside after the change in diet, eight months of eating raw vegetables left her craving more variety. Most raw-food products on the market were chalky or grainy, lacking flavor, she says. So she began making her own granola and crackers. The idea was born at a family reunion, when her husband Greg pointed to a bowl of granola and said: “If you can make something [that tastes] like that, I’ll join you on your raw diet.”
Leidich began experimenting with dehydrated nuts, seeds, millet (a vitamin B-rich grain), buckwheat, and dried fruit including apples and berries to create her own granola, which unlike traditional granola has no added oils and is minimally processed. It quickly became popular with friends and family and within six months she was selling her homemade concoctions at the Boulder, Colo., farmers market. Customers began asking local grocers for the crackers — made of flax seed and kelp — and granola. Soon after, Vitamin Cottage, a regional natural grocery chain based in Denver, began stocking the products, which later were sold in a dozen of its stores.