Producer of the Week: Gangster Vegan Organics

Vinny DePaul and a colleague t the UM Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Copper Lantern Pictures.

Vinny DePaul and Camille Kent at the UM Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Copper Lantern Pictures.

In his book, How to Find the Work You Love, Laurence Boldt wrote about basic geometry. He said you will find the work you love – that is, the work you were born to do and the work that will give your life great meaning – at the intersection of your gifts, talents and abilities and the needs of society.

Vincent “Vinny” DePaul lives and works at that intersection. As the founder and creator of Gangster Vegan Organics, Vinny serves society by feeding its members wholesome vegan organic foods that express his care and compassion for humanity.

“My favorite thing about being a producer of these foods is that I get to create them and serve the people,” Vinny said. “I seek to serve love, happiness and gratitude. It’s more of a sacred commerce.”

With his business, Vinny puts people before profit. “I’m working to improve the quality of life worldwide, one fruit and veggie at a time,” he shared. His guiding belief is that you have to Fight to Eat Right.

Vinny came to this worldview by way of a transformative learning experience.

“I owned and operated a very successful t-shirt company in Los Angeles for 10 years,” he said. “I made millions and partied my life away. Everything crashed and burned, and I found myself alone and homeless. At my worst point, someone gave me a fresh-pressed organic juice, and it saved my life.”

After this encounter, Vinny continued to juice and pull his life back together. “I had a profound awakening, and I decided to cleanse my body of all toxins, people included,” Vinny said. “I re-emerged in life as a vegan – more loving, caring and compassionate. I then felt the need to serve the people. I created the brand Gangster Vegan and began selling juice and food out of my house.”

Three years later, Vinny returned to his hometown of Norristown, PA, and opened Gangster Vegan Organics on November 15, 2014. The business has grown significantly as it supports and feeds the whole community. In fact, every Monday night, Vinny opens his doors to feed any child who comes in a hot, organic vegan meal.

And with a name like Gangster Vegan Organics, the community can’t help but be curious about Vinny’s foods and want to stop in. “The word ‘vegan’ is just as scary as the word ‘gangster,'” Vinny said. “I want the people to know that culture and society has our kids brainwashed into this gangster lifestyle. We are making it gangster, and we’re making it cool and hip to eat healthy and be well. We are not just chewing on lettuce and carrots. Our food has flavor, soul, and most importantly love.”

The patrons at the UM Farmers Market can vouch for the flavor, soul, and love in Vinny’s foods. On Saturdays at the market, they look forward to all his products, most especially Vinny’s Esta Loca Taco Salad, The Truth Juice, and Goji Balls, a superfood ball dessert.

At his physical store location at 2454 West Main Street in Norristown, Vinny offers a number of additional items. These include at least eight to 10 different juice varieties, five to seven different types of smoothies, seven to 10 different raw vegan foods, as well as raw pies, cakes and desserts. Vinny also offers snacks, kale chips, raw crackers and cookies.

Whether at the market or in his store, Vinny said he enjoys “connecting with the beautiful human being.”

Be sure to visit Vinny at both locations so you can experience for yourself the good foods that come as a result of him living life at the intersection of his unique gifts and our society’s need for healthful nourishment.

PRODUCER SPECIAL:  This Saturday, stop by the Gangster Vegan Organics booth for $1 wellness shots.

Producer of the Week: Jack’s Farm

Jack's Farm“We’re USDA Certified Organic,” said Dan Heckler. “It’s just the right thing to do when it comes to producing food.”

Dan and his wife, Deb, own and operate Jack’s Farm. Over 15 years ago, they started their Pottstown farm from scratch to offer certified organic, non-GMO vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Their children provided the impetus to follow these strict farming practices. “Having children really  made us both stop and make more deliberate choices in how we’re farming,” Dan shared.

A commitment to organic agriculture is a commitment to preserving the environment. In order to abide by this commitment, farmers who seek the USDA Certified Organic designation must adhere to a number of organic standards. These include avoiding chemical fertilizers, using organic seed, welcoming regular on-site inspections, keeping detailed crop records, and much more.

“It’s really the only farming method where the rules are public and the standards are routinely checked by a third party,” Dan said.

Dan credits his crew of dedicated farm hands with the growth of Jack’s Farm. “You know, the myth of the ‘dumb farmer’ isn’t true,” he said. “There’s so much planning and foresight, plus physicality, needed in this business that it’s not for the faint of heart!”

Dan learned this himself from a very young age. “I grew up in a farm situation,” Dan explained. “My Dad raised antibiotic-free turkeys for Whole Foods. It was a large-scale agriculture operation.” Dan’s Mom also grew up on a dairy farm in central Pennsylvania.

Despite its name, Jack’s Farm isn’t named for a specific “Jack.” Instead, the name is meant to signify a farmer’s need to be a “jack of all trades” to farm successfully. Dan is one of these “jacks,” using his multiple skills and talents to grow the farm business.

“For me personally,” Dan said, “I am using virtually every one of my talents from planning to mechanical inclination to research and customer service.”

You can find Jack’s Farm at the UM Farmers Market every Saturday. All of Dan’s products are popular among market patrons. Be sure to check them out and see this commitment to sustainable farming practices for yourself.

“We love our customers!” Dan said. The feeling is mutual!