Sourcing Ingredients for Levana Nourishments

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Sourcing Ingredients for our Levana Nourishments Line was a nightmare, but thank goodness it’s over!

I am constantly asked: How did you come up with your formulas? How did you go about sourcing ingredients? And where do you get all the ingredients from?

In my year-long tinkering phase developing my Nourishments blends, all my ingredients came from (excuse the pedestrian source) Amazon. com. Simple as that.Photo Jul 28, 3 41 21 PM

When the time came to sourcing ingredients professionally, I went back to each supplier one by one, and requested specifications for each and every ingredient, to make certain they met with our rigorous requirements: Certified Natural, No Sugar Added, Vegan, Non-GMO Verified, Nut-free, Soy-free, Kosher.

Here I must tell you, our research was a revelation, and not an altogether positive one, and the results sent us back to the drawing board dozens of times before we ended up exactly with what we wanted and worked so hard to achieve. Our persistence was richly rewarded.

Examples:

– Some manufacturers simply refused flat out to reveal the totality of their ingredients, invoking the “Proprietary Recipe” argument. That was an open and shut case.

– Many ingredients marked “organic” didn’t make the cut when it came to including them as “certified natural”, and included unwelcome additions (inulin, colorants, silicon dioxide, artificial flavors etc). To complicate matters, these additions were not revealed on the organic item’s ingredient list. We had to probe deeper with each company, at the risk of making complete nuisances of ourselves. This sobering fact bore out all my years as a cooking teacher, haranguing the crowds that organic and natural-and-healthy are not synonymous, not by a long shot. How else could we explain the aberrant existence of the organic microwaveable frozen TV dinner? Organic junk is junk, and we should stay away from it with a vengeance. Organic was considered ONLY if it was natural.

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– Some ingredients (such as miso) were sourced, with some labor-intensive research, as soy-free and gluten-free. But when we investigated on the freeze-drying process of our miso, it turned out that the machinery where the paste was processed was (counterintuitively) not gluten-free or soy-free, causing the end product to be neither soy-free nor gluten-free. So we switched to the excellent brown rice protein.

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– An acceptable and palatable sweetener sent us calling a dozen manufacturers. One plant even offered to develop a stevia formulation especially for me (that made me feel quite the diva!), along the exact specifications I had given them. Sorry to say, their product didn’t win. The winner was a brand called Pyure, run by a lovely and expert staff. The R&D expert on their team explained to me why their stevia had no discernible bitter aftertaste: the plant stripped their stevia of its bitter layer (1%) before hunkering down to grinding it. Needless to say, that made a huge difference, such a difference that I subsequently started making muffins, popsicles and smoothies with Pyure Stevia.

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