Jack Aronson, founder and former president of Canada-based Garden Fresh Gourmet, which started in Ferndale, has launched a new venture two months early in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aronson’s company, Clean Planet Foods in Royal Oak, has ramped up production of its Mindful Meals, or individual entrees.
To date, 2,000 meals have been donated to local organizations.
Clean Planet produces meals using high pressure processing, a form of cold-water pressure that helps food stay fresh longer without artificial preservatives. The meals have been donated to Ferndale senior centers, Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit, Food Bank of Oakland County, and Mitch Albom’s SAY Detroit group of charities. Aronson plans to donate 10 meals to local charities for every case sold.
“There are so many people who are unable to go to the grocery store or even cook right now that we moved the launch date of our quick heat-and-enjoy meals forward by several months out of a sense of urgency,” says Aronson. “These meals are developed by chefs and are very nutritious, which is so important for good health right now. We are proud to give back to our community at this time of need.”
Minimally packaged in 6-ounce pouches, there are five recipes available. The BPA-free pouches act as heating vessels and take about 1 minute to heat in a microwave. In addition, the packaging may be removed and the meals can be heated in a pan or in an oven.
Flavors include grilled chicken and broccoli over rice, fajita chicken and veggies over rice, chicken with corn over rice, cheese tortellini with tomato sauce, and meat tortellini with tomato sauce. More flavors are being developed, and two vegan dishes are expected to be added by the end of the week.
Rolling curtains have been placed between workers at Clean Planet Foods’ production facilities to ensure social distancing during the pandemic. Aronson has also partnered with Detroit City Distillery, which has created hand sanitizer for his team. Team members have also been gifted 40-pound boxes of fresh produce and vegetables to take home so they can minimize their time at grocery stores.
“My first priority is the safety and health of my dedicated workforce since without them, there’s no Clean Planet and, without Clean Planet, we can’t produce free meals for the community,” says Aronson. “My team worked at lightning speed to get this product out to our customers and those neediest in our community; they inspire me every day.”
Each meal costs $4, and meals are purchased in cases of 30 meals. Customers can schedule curbside delivery by calling 248-951-2140 ahead of time to place an order, or customers can drive up to the Clean Planet Foods outlet at 2520 W. 14 Mile Rd. in Royal Oak and order their food inside. Delivery for a flat fee is available throughout metro Detroit.