Carla Bartolucci, the co-founder and CEO of Jovial Foods, a North Stonington-based organic food company, passed away on May 22, 2021, at the age of 53, after a brief illness. She died at her home in Italy, surrounded by her family. Her death was announced by the company on its Facebook page, where they described her as “a force of nature” and “a visionary leader”.
Who was Carla Bartolucci?
Carla Bartolucci was born in Connecticut, in an Italian-American family that was passionate about food and farming. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in agricultural economics, and then moved to Italy with her husband, Rodolfo Viola, who was also her business partner. They started their first organic food company, Bionaturae, in 1995, and became one of the pioneers of the organic movement in the United States.
In 2010, they launched Jovial Foods, a brand that focused on producing allergen-friendly, gluten-free, and grain-free products, such as pasta, cookies, crackers, flour, and olive oil. The inspiration for Jovial Foods came from their daughter, who suffered from a gluten sensitivity. Carla Bartolucci wanted to find delicious and nutritious options for her daughter, without compromising flavor for health.
One of her most remarkable achievements was discovering and popularizing einkorn, an ancient species of wheat that has not been hybridized or modified. Einkorn has a higher protein and lower gluten content than modern wheat, and is more digestible and nutritious. Carla Bartolucci became the largest producer of einkorn in the world, and wrote a cookbook about it, called Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat.
What was her impact on the food industry?
Carla Bartolucci was widely respected and admired in the specialty food industry, for her vision, integrity, and innovation. She was committed to creating products that were not only delicious, but also healthy, sustainable, and ethical. She worked closely with small farmers in Italy, who grew organic crops using traditional methods and respecting the environment. She also supported various social causes, such as donating food to food banks, sponsoring scholarships for students, and funding research on celiac disease.
She was also a mentor and a role model for many aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women. She shared her story and her insights on various platforms, such as podcasts, blogs, and magazines. She was featured on NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz, where she talked about the challenges and the joys of building a successful food business. She was also a guest speaker at the Specialty Food Association’s Leadership Awards, where she received the Citizenship Award in 2019.
How are people remembering her?
Carla Bartolucci’s death has left a void in the hearts of many people who knew her, worked with her, or enjoyed her products. Her family, friends, colleagues, customers, and fans have expressed their condolences and their gratitude for her life and her legacy. Many have shared their personal stories and memories of her, highlighting her kindness, generosity, warmth, and authenticity.
Her company, Jovial Foods, has vowed to continue her mission and her vision, with the help of her oldest daughter, Giulia, who will be joining the company. They have also created a memorial fund in her name, to support the causes that she cared about. They have invited people to donate to the fund, or to plant a tree in her honor, as a way of celebrating her life and her impact on the world.
Carla Bartolucci was a remarkable woman, who left a lasting mark on the food industry and the society. She will be remembered as a visionary entrepreneur, a loving mother, a loyal friend, and a jovial spirit.