Food Find: KetchLove by Kept Love 

Being a farmer is not easy. Although our appreciation for local produce grows every day, farming itself doesn't get any easier. A lot of love and backbreaking effort goes into growing those tomatoes you wait in line for at your local farmers market. But have you ever wondered what happens to those tomatoes that aren't quite pretty enough to bring to market? These "seconds" are actually sometimes more flavorful, being at the peak of ripeness. However, finding a way to get a return on the hard-work investment with a less-than-stellar growing season is often beyond the reach of small-scale farmers.

Chef Seth Freedman says he recognized this problem and wanted to find a practical solution. Freedman, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who has worked at Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, and the Four Seasons, started Kept Love with two objectives: To create quality food products using farmers' seconds so they don't get wasted; and to create a product that would increase the viability of local farmers. Freedman credits his wife with the name Kept Love, chosen because you keep the love that went into the farmers' products a little longer.

Kept Love's first partnership was with Love is Love Farm (www.loveislovefarm.com), a south Atlanta farm operated by Joe Reynolds and Judith Winfrey (the head of Slow Food Atlanta). Using 250 pounds of Love is Love's tomatoes, Freedman got to work in a certified organic and fair use kitchen he rents by the hour. He created two small-batch products: a roasted tomato sauce and ketchup. The recipe for "KetchLove" is an old-fashioned recipe made with tomatoes, onions, cider vinegar, garlic, spices, "the brownest of brown sugars," and love. The ketchup has that complex spicy sweetness you only find in homemade ketchups. The consistency isn't as thick as mass-produced ketchup because there are no additives or fillers. The flavor is so intense that a little dab goes a long way.

Since the number of bottles produced depends on the growing season, production schedules aren't fixed. However, Freedman expects to put out another small batch of KetchLove before tomato season is over. Visit www.keptlove.com to find out when the next round of KetchLove will be available, where to buy it, and to keep abreast of the other products Kept Love is making with local farmers.

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