Alice Benedetto, RN, of Ardsley, N.Y., built a thriving global business on her vision of healthful eating and tasty, nutritious, raw foods. She created Raw Revolution Food Bars, sold in health food shops and major food stores around the world.
While working for seven years for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Benedetto said she saw chronic illness and health problems influenced by diet. “I came to believe in food as medicine,” she said. “The body reacts to how we eat, drink and take medications.”
While a visiting nurse on the day shift, Benedetto studied nutrition and the preparation of wholesome foods during night courses to become a professional natural foods chef.
First Benedetto changed her own diet, which required her to become vegetarian, eat more raw foods and gradually eliminate sugar, wheat, caffeine and most dairy. She said the diet increased her energy level making her passionate about the nutritional and anti-inflammatory benefits of raw, living plant foods. Many foods retain more vitamins, enzymes and minerals when eaten raw or minimally heated.
When Benedetto became a mother, she looked for wholesome snacks for her toddler, finding mostly high-sugar, processed children’s foods. Experimenting in her own kitchen, she created raw food cookies and bars, and kids loved the taste. When neighbors came asking for more, she began to sell her first “raw brownies” in a local health food store with a great response.
In 2003, Benedetto began building her company, Raw Indulgence, on her days off. Weekends were filled with buying ingredients, trying new recipes, making the bars and learning how to grow a business.Quote on food bar packages: “As a registered nurse and natural foods chef, I’ve developed a passion for raw foods. Imagine an alternative to high-sugar, processed snacks that tastes simply amazing, a fusion of live, raw and organic ingredients. Imagine a clean snack with a higher nutrient content that brings us closer to healing ourselves and the global ecology. Stop imagining and join the Raw Revolution. You owe it to yourself.”
— Alice Benedetto, RN, founder of Raw Indulgence
Benedetto credits nursing with giving her valuable experience and leadership skills. “I learned about working with people,” she said. “When you are a nurse, you are always on a team.”
As she began to work with food on a larger scale, such as operating and sanitizing big machines and testing ingredients for bacteria or contaminants — with strict adherence to FDA, Kosher and Certified Organic standards — Benedetto drew upon her nursing practice.
“I knew how to work hard as a nurse and to problem solve. We always had to learn about new equipment,” she said. “I knew from med/surg about physical work, how to lift carefully, and about long hours on my feet, [and] to get good shoes.”
When technical and safety challenges arose, such as finding a better moisture-and-light-barrier material for packaging to preserve freshness, Benedetto did some research, learned about new technologies and made adjustments. “As a visiting nurse, I learned to be flexible. There were always new situations in nursing,” Benedetto said.
Benedetto’s company now employs 20 people and leases an 8,000-square-foot processing building to make 10 flavors of snack bars. The bars are sold nationwide in stores such as Wegmans, Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods and are distributed internationally. Most of the bars support gluten-free, Kosher, dairy-free and vegan diets.
Benedetto said she is enthusiastic that the company sponsors several athletes, Celiac disease events and other community activities. “I knew we had an innovative product,” she said. “We really took it step by step. I kept ‘trusting my gut’ for what was next. You need to have a vision of where you want to go.”
Now, as a busy mother of two, Benedetto is involved actively in company decisions and new product recipes, while also spending more time with her family.
Always a nurse, Benedetto still gets health question calls from family and friends and said she would like to work with nurses in patient care again at some point. Fortunately, she will have good supplies of wholesome snacks to sustain her between those quick breaks.
For information on the snack bars, visit www.RawRev.com.