Tiscia’s story: Stay-at-Home Mom Turns Passion for Kosher Organic Food Into a Thriving Monmouth County Business
Tiscia Bonanno, a former account manager for a large communications company, left her career to stay at home and raise her triplets, three boys. Life was, needless to say, very busy. But Tiscia was enjoying every minute of it. She never really thought too much about what she fed her family other than to be sure it was healthy. Her definition of “healthy” would change drastically over the years, starting when her mom become ill.
“My mom was diagnosed with cancer, so I spent a great deal of time visiting her in the Oncology Unit at the hospital,” says Tiscia. “At first, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything around me, but then I started to notice young women, women my age, lying sick and suffering with breast cancer. It struck me as odd for someone so young, but I figured it must happen every now and then.”
As time went on, cancer surrounded Tiscia. Three close friends, all young, all within the following year were diagnosed with cancer. “Cancer kept coming into my life and wouldn’t stop,” Tiscia recalls.
And then Tiscia heard about GMOs – Genetically Modified Organisms.
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an increased yield or drought tolerance. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the GMO industry and many research studies are being conducted to determine if there is a link between increased GMO use with health problems and environmental damage.
Tiscia asked herself, “Could GMOs be the reason why so many young people were getting cancer?” She began to read every detail she could about GMOs, the use of antibiotics in meat, growth hormones in milk, and the various farming methods used today, including organic foods. Tiscia watched every major documentary about the food industry and read every study conducted.
The education she received was more like an enlightenment. “I learned that we don’t have to accept that our health is not in our control,” Tiscia says. “I truly believe that we can have a hand in our health when we make the right choices about the food we eat.”
Determined to find the highest quality and safest meat, Tiscia began researching where she could buy fresh, healthy GMO-free and organic meat for her family. She found several farms in Pennsylvania who follow old-fashioned farming methods to raise organic, GMO-free poultry, beef, pork and more. She began driving to Pennsylvania to get meat to feed her own family.
“What I found was not just that the food was the healthiest possible food I could eat, but it was the tastiest meat I had ever eaten,” she says. Tiscia continued to travel to Pennsylvania for her meat, and also switched to purchasing organic and GMO-free produce and packaged items. All the while, Tiscia would talk with her friends about her new-found passion. Soon, Tiscia’s friends were asking her to pick up meat for them as well.
Then one day, Tiscia walked into a gourmet food store and told them how she travelled to these great farms weekly to pick up meat. “They told me to pick up some for them too,” Tiscia explains.
And that’s when Tiscia’s passion for organic, GMO-free, healthy, fresh food turned into a business almost overnight.
“I came up with the name Old World Organics to convey the message that we are going back to the traditional farming methods of our grandparents’ generation,” Tiscia says. She purchased a refrigerated van and her business took off.
Today, Tiscia is turning her attention to residential delivery so she can make organic food accessible and affordable to everyone. “Many people don’t live near the gourmet shops that carry the organic meat,” Tiscia says. She also wants to make organic food as affordable as possible, which she does with her new residential, small-bulk delivery program. “I want to make sure that everyone who wants to eat organic can afford it, and can get their hands on it,” says Tiscia.
“What separates Old World Organics from the few other organic companies out there is that the meat I purchase is fresh, never frozen,” Tiscia says. “It is a true farm-to-table offering for people who want the highest quality, freshest organic and GMO-free meat. “It is the same meat that chefs in fine restaurants choose.”
“The poultry I feature comes from all Amish and Mennonite farmers, family-owned and operated since 1947,” Tiscia explains. “The poultry is organically pasture-raised on a chemical-free and pesticide-free farm without hormones and antibiotics. And they are hand-processed and hand-packaged.”
“I carry beef that is local, grass-fed and organic, and never flash frozen,” Tiscia says. “And you don’t have to buy the whole cow; you can get any cut of meat in any quantity you want.”
All of the farms that Old World Organics partners with are USDA inspected and certified. Old World Organics provides a variety of organic, GMO-free, antibiotic and hormone-free products including chicken and turkey, beef, sausages, pork, deli meats, convenience items like packaged and pre-cooked meals, eggs and Glatt Kosher items. Other products include yogurt, milk and honey.
Tiscia feels better feeding her family organic and GMO-free food and is clearly passionate about her chosen lifestyle. “I know there are more and more people these days that are coming to the same conclusions that I am coming to – that there is nothing better for you than delicious food that isn’t filled with chemicals,” says Tiscia.
“I started Old World Organics to make this lifestyle easier for those who choose it.”