Annette and Jack Aronson
Annette and Jack Aronson (Courtesy of Clean Planet Foods)

Jack Aronson has pledged to give away 10 meals for every case purchased.

Clean Planet Foods is a new option for a reliable source of nutritious meals during Michigan’s stay-at-home executive order.

Jack Aronson, the philanthropist founder with wife, Annette, of Garden Fresh Gourmet — well-known for its line of fresh salsas — started Clean Planet Foods in 2016.

A longtime proponent of healthier eating, Aronson got excited about producing food using innovative high-pressure processing, or HPP. This scientific technique of cold-water pressure “makes our food last longer, without the use of artificial preservatives,” he says.

Mindful Meals Grilled chicken and broccoli over rice
Grilled chicken and broccoli over rice. (Courtesy of Clean Planet Foods) Clean Planet Foods

The chef-inspired Clean Planet Mindful Meals, as Aronson calls them, come in 6-ounce BPA-free pouches. The food steams in its own juices for 1 minute in a microwave oven, and the pouches can double as serving vessels.

Several flavors are vegetarian or use plant-based proteins.

Besides being convenient, “eating our meals saves people from having to go out to grocery stories,” Aronson said. “People can buy the meals for their relatives and friends that can’t get out. Orders can be shipped outstate, too.”

Mindful Meals Fajita chicken and veggies over rice
Fajita chicken and veggies over rice. (Courtesy of Clean Planet Foods) Clean Planet Foods

Mindful Meals cost $4 each but must be ordered as a case of 30 for $120. Aronson has pledged to give away 10 meals for every case purchased. More than 2,000 meals to date have helped charities feed a variety of populations.

“We’re donating meals to students who are missing hot lunches at their schools,” he said.

In early April, Food Bank of Oakland County distributed Mindful Meals to first responders, including police officers, firefighters and medical staff. Firefighters in Ferndale also brought meals to local seniors.

Mindful Meals Cheese Tortellini
Cheese Tortellini (Courtesy of Clean Planet Foods)

Selections include grilled chicken and broccoli over rice, fajita chicken and veggies over rice, chicken with corn over rice and either cheese or meat tortellini with tomato sauce.

Aronson said upcoming flavors will be cheese or beef tortellini with a marinara sauce, a vegetarian bowl including beans and rice with olive oil and spices and a vegan bowl featuring vegetables, beans and rice with pesto sauce.

It’s considered clean food because the process of high-pressure pasteurization, conducted at Clean Planet’s facility in Taylor, kills pathogens and bacteria. Food may be stored safely for 30-40 days in a refrigerator or six months in a freezer.

“We cook it, seal it, HPP it, box it and then it’s ready to ship or pick up,” Aronson said.

Responding to the Pandemic
Plans to start offering Mindful Meals moved up six months in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We started this operation 10 days ago (in late March) out of a sense of urgency,” Aronson said. “My crew retooled in 48 hours.”

“Because of the talent of our team,” he added, “we were able to launch a program that most food companies would take months to execute, if not more than a year.”

Aronson said he’s protecting the safety and health of his employees by having them use a potent hand sanitizer made by Detroit City Distillery. Rolling curtains separating workers at his production facilities also ensure safe social distancing.

Barbara Cohen of West Bloomfield recently tried her first case of Mindful Meals.

“The food is very clean and so easy to prepare,” Cohen said. Except for “too spicy” fajitas, she was happy with her meals and says she will order them again.

Clean Planet’s test kitchen at 2520 W. 14 Mile, corner of Delmar Street, in Royal Oak, is the meal pickup point between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Customers may place orders by phone or at the inside counter. Delivery for $10 is offered within 5-10 miles of the location. More information at (248) 951-2140 or cleanplanetfoods.com.

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