Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

Hemp is often referred to as the “green buffalo”, as much like the buffalo was to the Native Americans, all parts of the hemp plant can be used and have well defined purposes. Cannabis Sativa L., also known as hemp (or industrial hemp), is a versatile plant that is grown primarily for it’s fibre and seeds.

Industrial hemp is a sustainable, renewable source of high quality fibre. Hemp fibre comes from the stalk of the hemp plant. It’s properties of strength and flexibility make it an ideal raw material for textile production, as well as to make paper and plastics. Hemp seeds form the edible part of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. High in both omega 3 and 6 fats, and protein, hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse and super food.

At this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, I came across one of the market leaders in the world of hemp. Manitoba Harvest is a Canadian company who grow hemp seeds, and make and sell a comprehensive range of hemp seed-based products. Established 21 years ago, Manitoba Harvest’s product range has expanded over the years from hemp oil, to hemp hearts, hemp proteins, and a growing range of bars and granolas.

So, why Canada? The hemp plant is an oil seed plant that grows best in geographic locations that have a cold climate, combined with warm summer days and cold nights. Hence, Canada provides ideal climatic conditions for hemp to grow and thrive.

I spoke to John Durkin, Vice President of Sales at Manitoba Harvest, about his company and their hemp. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

Noosh Brands

Almonds are well known as being a healthy, tasty snack food and cooking ingredient. In recent years, food companies and manufacturers have increasingly woken up and taken notice of the not so humble almond, and it’s many potential uses and properties. Almond butter and almond milk are two of the main ways that consumers have been incorporating almonds into their everyday diets.

I was really excited to discover a new company, at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, who have taken this trend one step further by basing their entire brand around the Californian almond. Noosh Brands was founded and established by Sarine Sahatjian, and was based on the simple idea of wanting to produce healthy, tasty snack choices for her two sons. The name Noosh comes from Sarine’s cultural roots and is the Armenian word form almond.

Noosh have moved beyond almond butter and almond milk, into the realms of gourmet almond butter, almond cooking oil, almond protein powder and almond baking flour. The company minimises their food waste by using most of the almond in the production of their range of products.

I spoke to Steven Sahatjian, from Noosh Brands, about his company, how it started out and about their products. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

Grapoila

When I, and most people think of food waste, we think of edible food needlessly being left to rot or be disposed of. However, I recently discovered that this definition is not always true. Hungarian culinary oil producer, Grapoila, have based their entire business model on the principle that unused remnants from the food production process that are considered to be waste, can be salvaged and used to create food. They are a business that have shown true food entrepreneurship for our modern times and beyond.

So, what is the story of Grapoila?

While still at university, Marianne Pincesz, the owner and founder of Grapoila, decided to set up a company to produce cold pressed grape seed oil using grape seeds sourced from Hungarian wine makers. As the business evolved, the company developed a zero waste ethos with the aim of trying to use the entire grape pomace (solid grape matter remaining after the wine making process). Via a process of experimentation and innovation, Grapoila were able to find ways of using every part of their grape waste matter, by transforming it into a variety of cosmetic and food products.

Grapoila is now 10 years old and have replicated their initial grape seed model, and are now producing cold pressed seed oils, seed flours and seed butters from the waste remains of an impressive 18 predominantly Hungarian crops. This number is constantly increasing as the clever innovators from Grapoila think outside the box and develop new ideas.

I spoke to Marianne about her company and learnt more about the impressive work that they are doing. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

The Original Chufa Company

I first chanced on chufa (tigernuts) and horchata several years ago when I discovered a revolutionary American company called Organic Gemini. For me at the time, they were a cross between a cultural, ancient food novelty, and an emerging superfood. You can read more about the not so humble tigernut in my article about Organic Gemini. As much as it was an amazing discovery, I was surprised that my first encounter with chufa was in a country that they aren’t native to: The United States.

Hence, I was really excited to discover a company from Valencia, the home of Spanish horchata de chufa, called The Original Chufa Company. Established in 1960, the company has evolved from being a producer of horchata, to being innovators who produce a range of tigernut products which show that there is more to chufa than horchata.

I spoke to Massimiliano Berti, the Export Manager of The Original Chufa Company, to get their uniquely Spanish perspective on tigernuts and to learn about their innovative approach to using them. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.

Hacienda San José Single Plantation Cacao and Chocolate

Bean-to-bar chocolate and high quality cacao are gourmet delicacies that have emerged in the foodie world in the course of the last decade. Chocolate lovers and connoisseurs are becoming more aware of the origins of cacao and have come to appreciate the journey that it takes to get from bean to bar. Just like with a fine wine or olive oil, people increasingly select their chocolate bars based on it’s country of origin, variety of cacao used, and the flavour notes that they can expect to savour.

Ecuador is well known for it’s high quality cacao and for being home to some of the world’s best chocolate makers. Hacienda San José is a cacao plantation located in the Los Ríos province of Ecuador that was established by the 4th generation of a cacao growing family. The Marún Ramírez family is of Lebanese descent, and pride themselves on their rich cacao heritage and the sustainability of their production methods. With the emergence of the 5th generation of the family, they now produce a range of chocolate bars (in a variety of sizes, cacao percentages, and with or without inclusions) using their award winning Trinitario cacao.

I spoke to Jorge Marún Ramírez from the 4th generation of the dynasty, and learned more about Hacienda San José and their single plantation cacao and chocolate. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.