3 new healthy food products from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 January 2020
A new year usually brings the will to live well and watch what you eat. Easy does it thanks to these Yorkshire 'good-for-you' businesses
The drink to watch
Kombucha is the health tipple of the moment. Equinox brought the trendy fermented drink to Hebden Bridge some seven years ago when it was barely being whispered about outside of Asia. Now, they are one of the leading Kombucha companies in the UK. 'You can never start these things too early,' says director Daniel Spayne. 'But in some ways, maybe we were a little ahead of our time as people didn't really have any idea what Kombucha really was.'
So, what exactly is it, and how can it benefit our health? The fermented drink is made from sweetened tea and a specific culture known as a 'scoby', which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. It is thought that the probiotic bacteria can help balance the gut and the antioxidants in the drink help fight free radicals.
'It's a living food,' explains Spayne. 'Bacteria and yeast are the essence of Kombucha - it's reinvigorating fermented foods. Gluconic acids that are present are good for your intestinal flora and the gut. The bacteria and the yeast benefits are still being researched but we know that our customers say it makes them feel better and less bloated. People experience the drink and then feel as though it has really helped them. There's no artificial sweeteners or nasty ingredients in it.'
The business had a big near miss when the factory was flooded in the 2015 Boxing Day floods, but friends, family and the local community could see the potential in the company and came together to get it back up and running. 'We've recently added another brewery and we're looking to add another one soon,' he says. 'We've now got around 30 people working in the business and have the ability to make 350,000 units a month. It hasn't been easy expanding a start-up, but we are seeing the market really open up now as people's knowledge of Kombucha grows.'
'We love it!' smiles Spayne of their Hebden Bridge home. 'There's a real community spirit between food and drink companies and the start-ups in Yorkshire. We do all of the manufacturing ourselves and we've had a lot of help and support from local people who want to see manufacturing being brought back up north.'
The new kale
Seaweed & Co have recently released a new brand of products, Weed and Wonderful alongside Kaiser Chiefs frontman and Leeds local, Ricky Wilson.
Founded by Dr Craig Rose from Leeds, Seaweed & Co came about due to his background in marine biology when he realised the power of seaweed - and that it is massively under-utilised and extremely nutritious resource. The company uses seaweed as an ingredient in powders and other different forms, and Weed and Wonderful is their branch of finished products which have launched into Sainsbury's and will be launching in Lakeland, Boots and Holland & Barratt this year.
Recently, Rose has noticed that the reaction to seaweed has changed and it has started to be recognised for its health benefits. 'We talk about the kale effect,' he says.
'Kale has gone crazy and most people know it's good for them, but don't know why. Seaweed is seeing that same explosion and is increasingly recognised as being natural, healthy and sustainable. Consumers are looking for familiar formats with seaweed in such as snack food, oils or nutritional supplements.'
'Everyone knows what seaweed is but people don't realise how incredibly nutritious it is and how great it can taste when used in the right ways. The iodine helps toward iodine deficiency which supports cognitive health and is a mineral you have to get in your diet,' says Rose. 'Seaweed is a natural vegan source of iodine and with the rise of veganism, this is becoming an important part of many people's diet.'
A gift for granola
Bedale-based Jodie McGregor runs the successful granola start-up Perfect Provender.
It's been known for a while that too much sugar isn't good for us, but often everyday products such as granola are packaged up to be healthy, yet contain way too much of the sweet stuff. 'People are becoming more aware of what is in their products,' she says. 'That's been really helpful for us. There's an awareness of gut health at the moment and our products are all really high in fibre too.'
Having come from a fitness background as a personal trainer, McGregor found that a lot of her clients were really struggling to find a healthy breakfast option.
'I did my research and worked up a low-sugar recipe for them,' she says. Now, in her final year of a nutrition degree, McGregor collected her knowledge and launched the business in January last year. 'I wanted to bring the granola to the market, instead of just having it as a project at home,' she continues. 'It had a really positive response from my clients.' As well as ordering through their website, you can also find the products in some farm shops across Yorkshire and in dispensers at many of the zero waste shops too. For McGregor, it's all about making the healthy product accessible to everyone. 'We also do a subscription service, delivering the product to people on a regular basis,' she smiles.
The company will rebrand as Honest in January, and launching a couple of new flavours of granola at the same time. 'We will be launching a cacao and raspberry granola, and a cinnamon and ginger one as well,' says McGregor. 'It's all about honest, natural food and we are exactly what it says on the bag.'