Using ethically sourced ingredients and leaving minimal impact on the environment, Nuez was founded last November in reaction to commercially produced milk and milk alternatives. With a few places in the city carrying their products already, Nuez is a young start-up finding a strong presence in our community. We chatted with founder and maker, Lauren Eibe, to learn about her journey to producing organic nut milk in Vancouver.
Where did the idea of Nuez originate?
Lauren: I have never really been a fan of milk so whenever I wanted a dairy substitution, I would drink boxed almond milk. Because my diet is based heavily in fresh made whole foods, I am usually quite conscious about the ingredients in the packaged products I eat or drink. With products, I used to assume it was good because it was organic, but even so they still use fillers and preservatives. One morning as I was half asleep and putting almond milk in my morning coffee, I looked at the side of the carton and asked myself, “why am I putting Xanthan gum and Carrageenan in my artisian roasted fairtrade organic coffee?” I immediately searched on the internet how to make my own almond milk and created Nuez 1.0.
Could you explain the production process of making nut milk.
From the beginning of starting Nuez I was determined to use the highest quality ingredients I could find. I wanted ingredients that were ethically sourced, minimal impact on the environment as well as benefit the farmers I buy from. This philosophy also lead to the idea of using hazelnuts which are the only nuts that grow in BC. I go to the farm myself to pick up the nuts and it is so beautiful. The farm is nestled in a valley in Agassiz with huge mountains surrounding it. It is very neat to talk to the farmers and get a feel for all the passion they puts into their crops. The almonds and walnuts are from Northern California and are from small organic family farms and the raw cacao I use is fair trade organic from a family farm in Ecuador.
Becoming a food producer has been a very interesting experience because I have been able to see the inner workings of so many different food processes that I’ve only ever understood in theory. Reading about something and then actually doing it with your own hands is really an amazing experience. From walking through a hazelnut orchard with the farmer, I have gotten to see other peoples’ passions and I am thrilled to be able to combine all of that into one mason jar!
One thing Nuez does differently is a soak which starts a sprouting process and removes the anti-nutrients (a naturally occuring preservative). This turns the nuts from being dormant into a living food. This brings out more flavor in the milks and makes nutrients more bio-available and easier to digest.
“One of the most important thing is trying to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better than you were the day before”
What is your relationship to food, have you always had a strong interest in knowing where your food comes from?
Growing up I was the most difficult person to feed. My parents had a hard time finding food that I would eat, other than processed foods, because to me those tasted good. Fast forward a few years and I started to realize I knew almost nothing about food. My only understanding of it was how many calories it was based on what was written on the box.
I will never forget my “ah ha” moment though. I was living in Greece for a short time and outside my apartment there was a farmers market every Saturday. I had never been to a farmers market before and it blew my mind; I felt perfectly at home. It was sensory overload, like a technicolour strawberry and orange scented street party. Marketgoers were haggling over prices which seemed like a fun game, it was so lively! I was given a sample of tomato and it was bursting with flavours it blew my mind! Realizing that this was how food was supposed to taste, I was left almost angry about the quality of food I had access to at my local grocery store. After that my obsession with beautiful food started; I got my act together and learned how to cook.
What advice would you give to those planning or in the middle of starting their own business?
One of the most important thing is trying to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better than you were the day before. “Doing” is just as contagious as “not doing” so choose your community wisely.
To purchase your own organic nut milk contact firstname.lastname@example.org
founder of nuez
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