Neighboring Sustaining

The “Bites” App: Bringing Foodies, Friends and Farmers Together

Roza Ferdowsmakan is a 21st-Century Renaissance Woman. She’s a warm, socially-aware techie with hippie sensibilities, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a love for locally-sourced food that feeds the stomach and the soul.

Toward that noble end, she’s begun “Bites. Eat With Your Tribe” — an app that connects local foodies, chefs, and growers. Each participant on the app describes what they wish to purchase or can provide, facilitating an endless array of farm-to-table possibilities. Roza’s ultimate goal is to unite people through the power of food, increase the use of local growers and lessen the planet’s reliance on big business.

How did Roza arrive here?

“I had been going through a difficult divorce and felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me,” she explains. “I was looking to reset my life and create a sense of meaning and purpose. I started thinking back in my own life to those memories that bubbled up that were impactful, meaningful, and memorable. The things that really shaped my values.”

This inevitably brought her back to 1978, as a child immigrant arriving from Iran, then growing up a “sort of outsider” in Logan, Utah. Aware of her physical differences from the blondes surrounding her made her wish to craft her own identity. Roza saw her mom struggle to find work because her English skills were not the best; she herself felt the sting of racial slurs. This instilled a lifelong passion for inclusion and diversity.

The delivery system for her desire to be a uniter was through food. Having worked summers as a teenager at her uncle’s farm and greenhouse gave her a love of working with and around fresh produce. As she describes on her website, “I learned how to properly thump watermelon, press the sweet spot on honeydew, and climb a tall ladder to pick tree-ripened peaches. I made my way through endless rows of towering sweet corn, peeling them open and tasting them in the open field.”

And Roza had her first transcendent experience with food while at a dinner party at the age of 13, at the home of a professor. She spotted some quiche, a dish unknown to her at the time, and asked the professor what it was. Her host instructed her to taste the quiche with her eyes closed, to take time to explore the varying textures, and enjoy the fullness of the moment. “I was given a sense of mindfulness, of being present, of being alive. Connecting with food sources, with the earth, with a sense of community and empowerment.”

These sense memories gave Roza the idea of a forum in line with her strong belief that, “It is really about being a part of the solution toward localized sourcing and moving away from globalized food-producing. Because if you can support local growers by buying stuff from them, it will help the economy and help the community grow toward localized food sourcing.”

It took a while for the fully-realized notion of “Bites” to gel, after a number of trial-and-error experiments. It’s just launched on an attractive, user-friendly website where foodies and chefs alike can put together profiles stating their needs and preferences, skills, and limitations. A chef (who will be fully-vetted but need not be a professional) can come to your home and whip up (or drop off) a meal made with the aid of local growers and their own loving hands. They upload their food manager’s certificate or food handler’s card, and show that they have not had a criminal record in the past seven years.

Participants are encouraged to curate their profiles with meal photos, to provide a kind of visual resume; each experience will be rated and reviewed for others. Think of it as a kind of Airbnb for delicious homegrown food experiences!

Price points vary, there are no tips or taxes included in the meals, and the service is BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze). COVID protocols are firmly in place.

During these dire times of job loss, Bites can also be a wonderful money-making opportunity for the person who is currently out of work but has some cooking skills to share. “Let’s say a partner lost a job, you need to supplement your income or you’re a single parent. You’re trying to make ends meet and juggle work, kids, school. This allows people to have a gainful creative outlet with a flexible schedule that can fit perfectly into people’s lives,” Roza enthused.

There are many ways to utilize the Bites app: students expanding their culinary horizons by sampling the cuisines of other cultures. Families or singles taking a break from their own cooking and letting someone more skilled lead the way. Setting up a social interaction that becomes energized through the power of home-cooked food. A cook can even come to a classroom and give students a unique and delicious experience.

Roza is passionate about minimizing the hold of big business, putting far more emphasis on small farms, farmer’s markets, and other local food sources. “[With Bites] I’m not ordering food from a chain or a franchise, or through Uber Eats. I’m not helping the corporation.”

So, consider joining Roza Ferdowsmakan’s revolution by opting for locally-sourced food through homegrown meals. Whether you’re a foodie, a cook, or a local grower, check out Bites. Eat With Your Tribe and begin a culinary experience that will bring the beauty of the simple pleasures of life…via 21st-century technology.

-Ellen Fagan


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