During Utah’s Pioneer Day celebration last month, local business Butcher’s Bunches Handcrafted Preserves was invited to Washington D.C. for Sen. Mike Lee’s Flavors of Utah celebration. Luckily, Utah’s fascination with green Jell-O didn’t make an appearance.
“We are so far beyond that,” said Liz Butcher, founder of Butcher’s Bunches. She said Lee “wants to show that it is not just green Jell-O that Utah is famous for.”
The event happens annually around Pioneer Day and is designed to celebrate Utah-based food industry professionals. Butcher’s Bunches joined several other Utah businesses including Creminelli Fine Meats, Julieann Caramels and Lower Foods of Richmond at the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building to present and serve their products to Lee’s colleagues in the capital.
Lee is “so, so proud of the food industry here,” Butcher said, “how we’re committed to making Utah shine.”
Butcher said the vendors were granted private tours of the White House and other government buildings, while getting the opportunity to see many monuments around the nation’s capital.
“It was awe-inspiring,” She said. “I don’t know why they chose us or how, but it’s probably one of the highlights of owning our business.”
Nearly 20 years ago, Butcher’s family owned farmland and sold produce at the farmers’ market each year. After losing a sizable amount of land and seeing many other farms go under during the economic recession of 2008, she said she had to figure out want to do with the resources she had left.
“I’ve always canned and I’ve always preserved,” Butcher said, “because no mater how much we sold we always had a ton of leftovers.”
Butcher decided to take her jams and preserves to the farmers’ market due to her farm’s ebb in produce. In 2009, with four or five cases of product in tow, Butcher took her new product to market. She sold all of it.
The next week she brought more cases and sold out again. The third week, she said she was contacted by Caputo’s Market and Deli in Salt Lake City about her products, and the store ordered between 50 and 60 cases of jam.
“I was like, ‘Oh, dear. What do I do?’” she said.
Within about a 12-week period, she said her products were in Harmon’s Grocery Stores, Whole Foods Market and had been featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Butcher said she buys all her produce from Utah farms to support local agriculture and to give back to the community. She said without the support of Cache Valley locals, her business wouldn’t have gotten a start.
“We want to stay in Utah because this is where we’re from,” she said. “This is our family’s home and this is where we got our start.”
Butcher said Butcher’s Bunches has been invited to next year’s Flavors of Utah celebration.