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Making Indigenous Cuisines More Widely Accessible

Online marketplace Tocabe sources ingredients from Native farmers, ranchers and producers
Online marketplace Tocabe offers a direct-to-consumer line of ready-made Harvest Meals, consisting of Native-supplied options ranging from bison dishes to vegan bowls.


Many Americans have little awareness of Indigenous cuisines, but Tocabe intends to change that. 14-plus years ago, Ben Jacobs, a member of the Osage Nation, and his partner, Matthew Chandra, co-founded Tocabe: An American Indian Eatery; then, in 2021, they launched Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace. Both are based in Denver. “Our journey began with the inspiration drawn from my parents’ restaurant, Grayhorse: An American Indian Eatery, which they established in 1989 on Denver’s 16th Street Mall,” recounts Jacobs.

The online marketplace offers the diverse flavors and traditions of Indigenous cultures to customers nationwide. “Tocabe is dedicated to sourcing ingredients from Native farmers, ranchers and producers, supporting Native communities and preserving Indigenous culture,” explains Jacobs. “Our aim is to honor our heritage and create a more inclusive culinary landscape.”

[RELATED: Why Consumers Are Opting for Foodservice at Retail Over Restaurant Meals]

‘Lasting Influence’

To that end, the marketplace has established relationships with such producers as Ramona Farms, Red Lake, Navajo Pride Foods, Bow and Arrow, and Seka Hills. “We’re constantly doing outreach and making new relationships in the Native community in the hopes of growing this list,” says Jacobs. 

Asked what these vendor partnerships look like, he responds: “Our process is to connect with producers and discuss their products, story, mission, goals and desired approaches. After that, our next step is to discuss the product lines they have developed and how we may best support those products.”

Among the marketplace’s offerings is a direct-to-consumer line of Harvest Meals, which consists of Native-supplied options ranging from bison dishes to vegan bowls. “One of the many things that makes this meal prep unique is there’s no subscription required,” notes Jacobs. “You’re able to order as you go, through Tocabe’s online marketplace at These meals are prepared and ready to heat, making mealtime hassle-free while still offering healthy options.”

Still Growing

The business has seen a busy 12 months. According to Jacobs: “Tocabe has undergone significant growth and transformation in the past year. While our original restaurant remains integral to our company culture, we made the tough decision to close and repurpose our other location into a full-scale production facility to support our prepared meal development. We’ve successfully launched our ready-made Harvest Meals for direct-to-consumer purchase, and our marketplace has evolved into its own stand-alone warehouse to accommodate the growing volume of ingredients we source. This consolidation allows us to efficiently receive, store and ship pallet loads of products all from a single facility.”

As to what’s in the pipeline, he notes: “Over the next year, we are focused on expanding our direct-to-consumer offerings to make Native-produced products and prepared meals more accessible. This includes enhancing our prepared meal menu and introducing new protein options, starting with bison items, as well as creating meals tailored specifically for children. Additionally, we’re planning to expand our Direct to Tribe program, reinforcing our commitment to serving Native people and Tribal communities.”

There’s one expansion that the company isn’t currently considering, however. As to whether Harvest Meals or other products offered by Tocabe might launch in retail stores, Jacobs replies, “Not yet, but this is an opportunity we may [pursue] in the future.”

What’s more important to him at present is that Tocabe customers “are participating in food sovereignty and supporting Tribal and local farmers across the nation making a positive impact in our communities.” 

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