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Taste of Life opens in Falcon

“Follow your bliss,” wrote scholar Joseph Campbell, and that is exactly what Donna Poelstra has done.On Sept. 25, Poelstra opened Taste of Life, selling natural food and prepared meals in the Falcon Highlands Marketplace.”I used to be called the chicken lady,” Poelstra said.”I wanted to find chicken that was safe for the family – no hormones and no animal by-products in the feed. So I did the research, and I found a place where I could buy chicken wholesale, but I had to buy a large quantity. So I asked a couple of friends if they would buy with me and they said ‘Sure’!”That was 15 years ago. Eight years later, Poelstra was selling 600 pounds of chicken from her garage every three weeks, plus baking and selling 90 loaves of homemade bread made from flour she milled herself.”It was crazy getting 100 cars through the driveway on co-op day, so a friend and I started a small catering company,” she said.They opened their first store in Monument, Colo. “It had a tiny little commercial kitchen and a store front. I operated my food co-op out of the front and this tiny catering business out of the kitchen,” Poelstra said.She then decided to make a dinner and see how it would sell. She started with her homemade chicken potpie, using her mom’s pie crust recipe, homemade chicken gravy and no preservatives and no MSG.”Everything is natural, just like home cooking,” Poelstra said. “We used our good healthy chicken and organic veggies, and I couldn’t make them fast enough.”Next, they tried buffalo lasagna and then chicken enchiladas, which have become her top sellers.Poelstra expanded to a 3,000-square-foot commercial kitchen in Monument – big enough to eventually support five retail stores.The store in Falcon is their second.”I have customers in Falcon who have been buying from me for 10 to 12 years,” she said. “They would come into the Monument store and ask, ‘Donna, when are you going to come to Falcon?'”Taste of Life is a family operation. When she ran the food co-op out of her garage, Poelstra’s three home-schooled children helped with pulling orders and invoices.”Now, my 23-year-old son Joseph is our full-time cook. Our 22-year-old son works full-time in the Monument retail store with us. Annie, my 20-year-old, runs the kitchen,” she said.Husband Ron Poelstra handles the finances, and friends Heidi Gackle and Dawn McNulty are helping at the Falcon store.Taste of Life stocks Iowa beef from Verity Farms. “I have never tasted beef like theirs,” Poelstra said. “They raise the cattle and grow the grain to feed the cattle – the grain is not genetically modified at all.”Poelstra gets pork products from Socolofsky Farms in Larkspur, Colo., which also provides fresh produce that she sells for just 15 percent above wholesale.”The majority of the meat is raised by small family farms, one animal at a time. None of this stockyard stuff,” Poelstra said. “I’ve done the research. I have made sure it is a vendor of integrity, and when they say ‘all natural,’ it’s truly all natural.”Just like our Wholesome Milk Products milk – it’s not certified organic, but its sole source is identified. The vendor can tell you where the cow was born, who raised the cow and which pasture it’s been feeding in. New customers have bought the skim milk and said they thought it tasted like 2 percent, it’s so creamy. It’s still skim, but it’s extra creamy.”In addition to milk and raw chicken, beef and buffalo; Taste of Life sells homemade dinners (buffalo lasagna, chicken potpies, chicken enchiladas, quiche and others) in three sizes: individual, mid-size (for a family of four) and large (for a family of eight).They also serve breakfast. “We have breakfast burritos, made from scratch, and not overloaded with potatoes,” Poelstra said. “It has lots of egg and bacon and cheese and a secret ingredient – homemade cream gravy made from bacon drippings.” Taste of Life also sells Serrano’s coffee.For lunch, the store heats four of its large dinner meals. Customers can load their plate for $4.25 and eat in or take it out.”Our customers are wonderful,” Poelstra said. “We have wonderful employees and friends living out here. If you told me 15 years ago, ‘Donna, you’re going to run a natural food store,’ I would have said, ‘you’re crazy.’ I was a home-school mom with a high school education. I never expected it. It just grew on me, and it just kept going and going.”What’s next for Poelstra? “We’re thinking of opening early – maybe 5:30 a.m. – for people on their way to work. They can pop a breakfast burrito in the microwave while fixing up their coffee.”Taste of Life will hold a grand opening Oct. 25 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with free samples of Socolofsky Farms pork, Iowa beef and cookie-dough balls.For more information on Taste of Life, visit

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