As it turns out, the first food scientist was actually a caveman who made organic (certified, of course) probiotic raw natural fermented soda. These early cavemen/food scientists figured out that water kefir soda has a shelf life of approximately 9 months, which correlates to the lifespan of the bugs in the bottle.
Fast-forward to modern times, and this drink has been recreated by Ed Coffin and George Sampson, owners ofCaveman Foods, one of several companies that is following the philosophy that we need to start eating simple and unprocessed foods—just like Fred Flintstone used to do. Its official, caveman food is the new raw, and energetic startup companies like Caveman Foods, Caveman Cookies andCore Foods are trying to bring us back to a place where men dragged women by their hair and were just figuring out wheels and fire.
Slightly more-evolved products—perhaps originating from the Cro-Magnon era—allow us to experience fresh juices with just a few weeks of shelf life, like Blue Print juices andHarmless Coconut Water, both made via a cold-press HPP process that uses pressure instead of heat to inhibit spoilage microorganisms. This high-pressure tactic plus refrigeration give these products a 17 to 30 day shelf life and a clean, fresh flavor that cannot be found in a typical thermally processed shelf-stable beverage. These companies are not making much money—they actually pride themselves on minimal profit and investing any extra money back into the product and the people who make it. Cory Rennell, founder of Core Foods calls it the “separation of food from profit” and his company follows the Golden Rule, which means they measure success by what they can do for others versus they can do for themselves.
As I wandered around the basement floor of Expo West (the best part of the whole show is in the basement, by the way—all the cool startup kids set up shop down there), I was conflicted by all the food conflicts. Raw foods that are jacked up with sugar to lower water activity, inhibit bacteria and extend the raw shelf life is basically replacing one evil with another. Organic processed kid snacks created by well-meaning moms who “just want to give their kids healthy alternatives to all the junk out there” is doing just the opposite—giving them a sweet, addictive alternative to real fruits and vegetables. Around the basement perimeter there was a continuous side battle of caveman versus vegetarian. Clean-label beef jerky versus the new wave of vegetarian meat analogues. Forget soy isolate, that’s so early ’00s. We now are eating quinoa burgers and almond grain patties.
I admit I was brainwashed in the Expo West basement. I overdosed on sugar-free gummy vitamins, boosted my energy with “natural” caffeine and downed probiotic beverages sweetened with “cane sugar,” which—as we all know—is just so much healthier for us than high-fructose corn syrup. I ate honey-sweetened, probiotic-infused raw bars and dairy-free, fermented almond yogurt. I got in my daily recommended dosage of every antioxidant, chia seed and vitamin out there without even knowing it, because it was hidden so well in the dark chocolate and fizzy drinks that they were put into.
Ain’t evolution great?