Monday, January 31, 2011

Product Review! Tasty + Conscious = Eco Ola

I've already talked about the concept of "food as love," the idea that the emotion that you put into something can make it taste just that much better... It would make sense then that something tastes that much richer, that much more wholesome, and that much more energetic if it was made in healthy, happy, conscious way. There is a reason Fair Trade Coffee tastes better. There is a reason small-scale organically-grown tomatoes look that much redder and taste that much sweeter. You can just taste the social justice and environmental sustainability!

Enter Eco Ola.

A few days after I wrote a raving review of Sacha Inchi seeds, I was contacted by the good people at Eco Ola to let me know that they too were just as crazy about Sacha Inchi as I was. In fact, they decided to make a business out of it. Founded in the Peruvian Amazon, Eco Ola's mission is to produce nutritious foods indigenous to their local culture and climate, while respecting the land they farm on and improve the livelihoods of those who grow their crops. They specialize both in Sacha Inchi seeds and in Camu Camu (a superfood I've only ever heard good things about and that I really have to get around to trying!)

As they write on their website, Eco Ola's farms are consciously designed to be part of the eco-system, not imposed upon it. Beyond growing their produce without any fertilizers, pesticides, or chemicals of any sort, Eco Ola ensure its farmers are getting a fair price for their produce, and that they are gaining the knowledge in sustainable farming they need to thrive. Can it get any better than that?

Actually it can. After a few email exchanges, Eco Ola sent me a couple products to review: their toasted Sacha Inchi seeds, and their cold-pressed extra virgin Sacha Inchi Oil (a perfect addition to a raw foodie's kitchen I was told!). Now, seriously, talk of ethical practices aside: YUM.

Sacha Inchi, in Quechua, means "the People's Seed." It's been used since time of the Inca for its amazing nutritious properties. Like I've mentioned before, by weight, Sacha Inchi seeds are 25% Omegas 3s (seriously, that's a lot). Not good enough? They're also about 1/3 protein, and not just any protein, they're complete protein (that means they have all the essential amino acids you need). And throw in some high levels of Vitamins A and E for good measure.

I only have one previous experience with Sacha Inchi seeds, but these tasted so much more... natural. I really appreciated that there was no crazy sugaring, salting, or coating. They were totally unprocessed and delicious. Their taste is richer, stronger, and so much more complex than the other ones I've had. The short of it: They're fantastic! You can use them in anything! Their great for snacking on, would make a fantastic energy booster to bring hiking or camping, you could put them in cookies, in your salad, the possibilities are endless!

Next up, the oil. I was really curious about what Sacha Inchi Oil would taste like. I was also really psyched when I was told it cold-pressed extra virgin oil, which in my books, makes it raw. It tastes pretty much just like the seeds, rich, nutty, and delicious. The oil is great for dipping bread in (add some herbs, sea salt, and pepper, and you're good to go!) or making a nice dressing. I've mostly been using as an alternative to olive oil to massage my kale and it's been working great. I also used it in a batch of raw chocolate chip cookies (I substituted coconut oil for the Sacha Inchi Oil), and those cookies are loooong gone (still working on tweaking the recipe though).

I know that another great use for the oil is to apply it directly to your skin as a moisturizer. I've done this before with apricot oil or kukui nut oil, so I may try it sometime soon though Sacha Inchi tastes so good I'll probably just stick to eating it. I'm glad to know I have the option though! As I say, don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth!

So, if you're into sustainable agricultural practices, ethical business models, or just want to know how Sacha Inchi seeds are grown, I definitely suggest you check out Eco Ola's website. It's packed with some really neat information on their region, their practices, and their products.

Sacha Inchi could definitely be the next big thing in the health food world. Especially for vegetarians and vegans looking for new and high sources of Omega 3s and varying our protein sources. If you're a retailer interest in carrying their products, which I highly suggest you do, the Eco Ola website also has all the information you need to contact them and figure out how to bring these little seeds of yummy to your community!

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