MALONE — The Sustain potato chip plant is making its first batches of chips, including the custom-created Canton Crunchies that will debut at a tasting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Northstar Cafe at St. Lawrence University, Canton. The public is welcome to attend and ask questions about the chips and sustainable foods.
Businessman Craig Bilow formed the business to provide a market for local agriculture. Sustain offers salsa, seven flavors of chips and six flavors of ice cream. The SLU snacks aren't quite scarlet and brown, but they are made from locally grown red potatoes.
"Last fall, we did a sampling of our ice cream at a president's dinner on campus," Mr. Bilow said. "A student group, Lettuce Turnip the Beet, came to us asking questions about local sustainable foods and later the college came back and asked us to work with food service. It seemed like a good match."
For now, the startup company consists of Mr. Bilow and partner Shawn Glazier, who handles distribution. Mr. Bilow has been making the premier batches of chips with help from family volunteers. Two employees will be added this week, then production will gear up to 300 bags a day.
The son of a farmer and father of four, Mr. Bilow works for Sustain and started the chip plant on his own. He said he's delighted at the interest from SLU and the students.
"The college really is leading edge with sustainable foods," he said. "We're open to more collaborations. I hope this is the first of many, and each Turnip the Beet class can leave its mark with a different project. We're a small company. We can be nimble."
The Sustain brand signifies that the main ingredient for a product, whatever it may be, was grown within 300 miles of where it is sold. The label also tells a little story about where the products were "born." As for the chips, they're on the shelf within a couple of days of being made.
"You can't get any fresher," Mr. Bilow said.
He's buying his spuds from Child Farm, Tucker Farms and a co-op out of St. Lawrence County. He's still looking for more local potatoes. He also is interested in pressing oil from locally grown sunflower seeds.
In addition to Canton Crunchies, the potato chip flavors so far are regular, salt and pepper, salt and malt vinegar, hot wing, bleu cheese and cheddar.
The Sustain plant is behind InMotion physical therapy at 14906 Route 30. People can contact Mr. Bilow at sustainbrand.com.