I’ve been a “health nut” for years. While I’ve never been extreme about it, I believe that your body deserves respect. If you want it to perform well and last long, it’s prudent to take care of it, and that of course includes monitoring what you eat.
My criterion is based mostly on sense. Sometimes, you can distinguish the premium fuel from the low grade by just using sight, smell and touch. Other times, you really can’t tell from the outer appearance and you have to buy some produce, take it home and taste it to determine if it’s the real deal. Eventually, you start developing a sort of sixth sense where you can “feel” the vibe of something.
Packaging is designed to make everything appealing. The shelves of markets today are lined with little salesmen in different shapes and colors. You could see them as fishing lures trying to hook you by appealing in various ways. But not all packaging is made of cardboard or plastic. Even produce has packaging. Tomatoes (traditional supermarket variety), for example, are grown to look good, transport well and have a good shelf life. The packaging is designed to present a ripe, red tomato look. It most often does. However, when you take it home for the taste test, it usually fails, giving you a mealy and tasteless something that is tomato in looks only.
By comparison, my wife and I visited the farm of a top organic grower who sees to the mineral balance of his soil. He took us out to the field in his truck and grabbed some tomatoes off the vine. They smelled like tomatoes and they were sweet and luscious when you bit into them. The difference was like night and day.
When my wife and I partnered up with our colleague Justin to take over Natural Vitality, all of us had already been successful in business. We saw this as an opportunity to go beyond self-interest and do something that could contribute to a happier and healthier world.
One of our first activities was to launch an environmental action initiative called Natural Revitalization. Through this program, now in its seventh year, we earmarked a percentage of profits to support nonprofits we thought could make a difference to health and the environment. We also launched a magazine, Organic Connections, to help inspire readers by connecting them with some amazing people doing courageous things to improve our world. The magazine has garnered awards and its Web site has passed the one million visit mark with over 70,000 Twitter followers.
Our product philosophy is simple. It can be summed up as “Do your best.” This means that we are constantly refining our product line to see if we can make it even better. It sometimes means pushing the boundaries of existing technology to meet our vision.
A good example of this philosophy in action relates to our flagship product, Natural Calm, the multi-award-winning powdered magnesium supplement that has led the category for seven years running.
We wanted our magnesium citrate to be non-GMO. This is unique because most citric acid comes from corn. Ours is not corn based, and Natural Calm is the only magnesium supplement that has been certified by the Non-GMO Project. We also changed natural flavors to organic flavors. These are significantly more expensive, but we did this because we believe the extra purity is better. We didn’t raise prices for shoppers—we took the cost increase out of our profit margin. We did the same by opting for organic stevia over nonorganic. It’s not about money; it’s about doing the right thing.
The point in telling you this is not to pat ourselves on the back. It’s more to let you know where we’re coming from and the intention behind a company with products on your shelves.
Natural Vitality is also a pioneer in liquid supplements. Liquids are more difficult to produce than pills and capsules and they are less profitable—at least the way we do it. Our objectives have been threefold. First, we believe in the superior bioavailability of liquids over pills. Liquids are in a form that is naturally easy for the body to assimilate. Second, we wanted to combine as many premium nutrients as possible in their best forms and in meaningful amounts. We wanted to help shoppers navigate the confusion of the supplement section so they could obtain valuable foundational nutrient formulations without the expense and inconvenience of having to set up a mini pharmacy in their homes. Third, no matter how good the ingredients, few people are going to make a routine out of taking a liquid that tastes bad. We put a lot of attention on creating liquids that most people either find good-tasting for vitamins or just plain good—no qualifications needed.
Part of our vision is that we believe in the value of plant-based nutrition. Whole foods can incorporate biologically active amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, sterols and other valuable nutritional cofactors. Laboratory isolates may supply greater amounts of certain nutrients where needed, but they aren’t whole. Some of our products are completely plant based, like our Vitality C Complex and Plant-Sourced Minerals. Our Vitality B Complex is fully organically grown plant based except for the addition of B12. Other formulations, such as our popular Organic Life Vitamins and best-selling Kids Natural Calm Multi, are combinations of organic plant components, plus added vitamins, minerals and, in the case of our children’s formula, Omega 3s.
Finally, we love the natural products industry and are proud to be a part of it.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2013