If you Google the most dangerous cities in the USA, Camden New Jersey will pop up near the top. Knowing this, as you might imagine, Camden is not always considered a particularly beautiful place to live but something very beautiful is happening there and it started with Steve Liberati, his passion for Paleo nutrition and fitness, and the realization that he could positively impact some of Camden’s most vulnerable inhabitants, its at-risk teens.
Here’s Steve’s incredible story: In 2007 while working in his family’s extermination business he got to know some local teens on his regular route. Steve knew these kids had very limited recreational options and was inspired to invite them to work out with him in a local park, bringing as much exercise equipment with him as would fit into his car. Realizing they had nothing healthy to eat during the day, Steve started vacuum packing beef jerky, berries and nuts for the kids to take to school. These Paleo-friendly “kits” kept food fresh and travel-friendly for backpack portability. And that’s how Steve’s Club and the PaleoKit came to be.
Today the PaleoKit is the flagship product of Steve’s PaleoGoods, a line of over 50 creations, sold online and available in various health food stores, all made in a warehouse next to the original Steve’s Club in Camden by local employees, some of whom are former Steve’s Club teens. The whole operation is still supervised by Steve himself. Fifteen percent of each purchase funds Steve’s Club National Program, a now nationwide non-profit organization that brings fitness, nutrition and mentorship to at-risk or underserved youth through over 30 CrossFit gyms across the US at reduced, low or no cost.
I sampled my first PaleoKit at the South Central CrossFit Regional competition back in 2014 and I was blown away by how good it was. Steve’s PaleoGoods was kind enough to send me a few additional products to sample for this review and let’s just say I’m a happy snacker!
I sampled the Original Paleo Kit (beef jerky, berries and nuts) the Berky (berries and beef jerky) and the PaleoJerky (beef) and, honestly, what’s not to love? The jerky is made from free range meat raised without antibiotics or added hormones and is nitrate, MSG, soy, and gluten, and added sugar free. It’s richly spiced but not overpoweringly so, and the berries impart a delectable sweetness. In true small business fashion, Steve’s jerky is made in Steve’s PaleoGoods Smokehouse, over three days, by a four-person team that prepares, slices, mixes and turns the jerky by hand eliminating the need for chemicals and automation. Flavor is achieved by marinating the meat with spices and juices. This results in a firm yet tender-to-the-chew product and produces a really satisfying smoky flavor even though no natural or artificial “smoke” is used. If you’re looking for 100% grass-fed, grass-finished jerky, look no further because Steve’s PaleoGoods makes that too.
Steve’s PaleoKoko Macaroon Trail Mix in Dark Chocolate Pineapple flavor is as outrageously good as it sounds! Containing bite size nuggets of shredded coconut, raw almonds, dried pineapple, coconut oil, honey, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt, this snack is a just-sweet-enough, chewy delight. It will satisfy a chocolate craving too!
The Cinnamon PaleoNutButter made with a variety of raw nuts and seeds, coconut, honey and cinnamon is a wonderful spread for veggies or fruit or you can just enjoy it spoonful after spoonful straight out the jar like I did!
Finally, the PaleoChef Maple Mustard Dressing is tangy and sweet and wonderful as a dip, sauce, dressing or marinade. I tried it as a sauce for the wild Alaskan salmon I made last night and it added great flavor to the dish.
All of Steve’s PaleoGoods products including PaleoJerky, PaleoStix, Snack Mix, Trail Mix, ProteinKrunch bars, NutButters, Coconut Oil, PaleoSpice, PaleoChef dressings and sauces and of course the PaleoKits contain only Paleo-friendly responsibly sourced, real food ingredients. It’s a small company with big vision to produce really delectable, high quality Paleo-friendly food whose proceeds support Steve’s vision as stated on the website, “… (of) a country where kids grow up valuing fitness and nutrition, where youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to improve their health, fitness and personal development.”