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Meet Amanda Horton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Horton.

Hi Amanda, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started Desert Provisions in 2017 after moving to the desert from the Pacific Northwest. I was working at the Univ. of Arizona, and I struggled when I moved to Tucson – it was so hot and I was used to the green bounty and food from the Pacific Northwest.

Although I’d lived in other areas of the country, I had no exposure to Tucson, the American Southwest, or the desert before moving here. I mistakenly thought the desert was this dry, desolate growing region. I was certainly wrong about that.   After a few years of living in Tucson, and discovering more and more about the food from the region, I had a desire to share that with others to celebrate.

At the time, I was having a hard time finding nicely packaged and high-quality shelf-stable food/pantry items to gift to friends and family. I’ve always been interested in food, design, gifting, and hosting and Desert Provisions was born out of these passions. Truth be told, I started dehydrating chilies from Hatch, New Mexico in my home kitchen when they were in season in September and grinding them to make my own powder.

I realized how flavorful and fresh it was and discovered no one was marketing and offering the product in this way (at the time). I also learned that most spices you get in the grocery store have been sitting in warehouses for years before they make it to your kitchen. After many different iterations, Desert Provisions was born.

We have well over 100 stores across the country that carry our products in addition to selling online.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Oh, where to begin… I think there are two primary struggles we’ve had and continue to navigate. The first one is around growing, scaling, and funding that growth.

There is a tipping point where you have to make key decisions about going all-in financially to get where you need to go… and then mentally and financially making that leap. Making those tough decisions about where to invest and where to get the best bang for your buck with limited resources and a million ideas is a real and constant struggle.

The second big struggle is balancing time and prioritizing – when you’re the CEO, social media expert, photographer, marketer, shipper, food packager, etc. Wearing so many hats is exhilarating at times and also daunting and exhausting.

Luckily, I have an amazing woman who works with me day in and out that I can count on and who wears so many hats as well. Desert Provisions would not be what it is without her.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Desert Provisions is a purveyor of salt, spices, and specialty foods. We source the best of what the desert has to offer to bring you chile powders, salt blends, and Sonoran Sea Salt. We specialize in shelf-stable, high-quality products so you can taste and celebrate the desert all season long.

The place is important to us. We source the ingredients for all our products from desert regions in the American Southwest. While the desert is a seemingly unlikely food source, it has been feeding people in this region for more than four thousand years.

The deserts of the southwest span parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and Mexico and offer an unlikely abundance of heritage and heirloom foods native to this region. We think it’s a pretty special place.

Desert Provisions was born in Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is located in the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern part of Arizona, approximately 60 miles from the Mexico border. Tucson is the first U.S. city designated as a UNESCO food heritage site, recognized for being the longest continuously cultivated area in the United States.

The salt we use in all of our products is harvested from the Sea of Cortez in Baja California where the Sonoran Desert meets the sea. We use unique, high-quality chilies from local farms in Hatch, New Mexico.

What makes us so special? Just like champagne is to France, chilies are to Hatch, New Mexico. The land — or terroir — provides distinct growing conditions for some of the best-tasting chilies in the world. The hot, dry days and rich soil provide that New Mexican flavor you can’t find anywhere else.

Hatch chilies are world-famous for their special favor, which isn’t found outside of the region. Every fall chile lovers flock to New Mexico to enjoy the new harvest at the Hatch Chile Festival. Fresh chilies are sold in 20+ pound increments and are fire-roasted on-site in enormous tumbling steel cages over roaring flames.

Locals stock their freezers with fresh roasted chilies, to enjoy until the next harvest. Desert Provisions brings you that special Hatch flavor all year round in easy-to-use powder and salt blends.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I think we’re still learning lessons due to COVID. We try to be very customer service-focused and responsive. During COVID, we tried to lessen the stress we put on ourselves to avoid burnout and stress. I began to understand that just because we can do something, it doesn’t mean we necessarily should.

Sometimes we had to say no or push back on how quickly we could get something accomplished simply because we had to put parameters around the time we had in each day to get all the work done. Learning to be ok with that and trusting it will all work out has been a learning experience.

I’ve also developed an even greater appreciation for how interconnected the world/planet is and how pulling on one string in one place (that may seem completely independent from something else) has an effect in a different place. The supplier issues most businesses have experienced and continue to experience are never-ending.

I don’t think of myself as a patient person and I’ve had to really grow in this area.

Pricing:

  • Our Hatch Red and Green Chile Salts retail for $12/per jar
  • Our Sonoran Sea Salt is harvested from a remote and pristine estuary where the Sonoran Desert meets the Sea of Cortez, the salt bears traces of its journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It retails for $9/jar.
  • Our Crushed Hatch Green and Red Chile Flakes retail for $14/jar
  • All our specialty products are individually priced and we also do lots of fun gift box options as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Peach Paletas – Lalune Photography and Betsy & John Photography

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