An excellent way to start a new business is by accident. If you read about most brands, they evolve from early ideas into their original manifestations, and then they change as they grow – they evolve – largely based on the great people that join the endeavor as time goes on. These are the eight reasons we started Health Warrior.
1. Born to Run. This best-selling non-fiction page turner took reading America by storm in 2008. It was then, perhaps, best known for introducing the now-infamous Tarahumara to the world as a tribe of ultra-endurance athletes who ran 25, 50, 100 miles in a stretch, barefoot through some of the most rugged terrain on earth in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. My friends, Dan and Nick, and I devoured the book. But the beauty of the story and the Tarahumara people isn’t just in their shoeless nature. It’s their view on running (and thus living) as a joyous activity, close to the land, and done with great celebration. In the book, this paragraph jumped out:
“In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re super packed with omega-3S, omega-6S, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease. And, after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home. Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage. Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean. The Mexican state of Chiapas is actually named after the seed; it sued to rank right up there with corn and beans as a cash crop. Despite its liquid-gold status, chia is ridiculously easy to grow…”
How could we NOT go hunting for these magic little seeds from the confines of our desks after reading that?! Nick was the first to start eating chia, having found some tucked into the back of a hard core organic grocer in New York City and in the back of the nutritional dark web online. The seeds definitely packed a nutritional punch, but the quality was all over the place (more on that in another post). After more research, it turns out that chia was so important to the indigenous Aztec tribes that the conquistadores had eradicated the crops – thus the reason for why quality and availability was sporadic (history lesson: when subjugating a native population, it was considered a best practice to take away whatever is most important to them).
2. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is the story of American food and where it comes from, told through some of the best written prose in history. It is a non-fiction rollicker with incredible depth, charm, and humor. Unfortunately, the conclusion is we are killing our culture with junk food (encompassing packaged foods and fast foods). We only eat a few plants, highly refined, and it’s not good. Most food Americans eat is packaged food. Most of that packaged food is bad for us because it’s full of ingredients that are, as Michael Pollan wrote, “food-like” – food that bears little if any relationship to its native form. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We realized chia, the paradigm of a nutrient dense whole food, has a 3 to 5-year shelf life. So, it can be the main ingredient in a packaged food, if you can be clever enough to make it delicious.
3. The best businesses fix problems. We have a huge problem to fix: American food culture, plus the lack of physical movement across society, is causing us to be obese. The fallout from increased obesity includes diabetes, rampant cardiovascular disease, and even mental health illnesses. Record obesity is plaguing the nation. More than 40% of Americans are overweight. More than 18% of children and adolescents are now overweight or obese. This is the first generation of children predicted to live shorter lifespans than their American parents: shame, shame, shame, shame.
4. Sugars is the new tobacco. In packaged foods and beverages, the arch-enemy is sugar. It’s cheap (so food companies can make big profits). It tastes good. It can be as addictive as cocaine. It helps hold food together and stabilize it for shelf stability (perhaps the most boring and one of the most nefarious things it does). And it is giving America a giant, culture-wide case of diabetes.
5. 300,000. There are 300,000 edible plant species. Three (3) of them – corn, wheat, and rice – make up the majority of American calories, and they have been stripped every good part of the plant and are left as an empty starch, which your body basically treats as sugar.
6. It doesn’t need to be this way. There are delicious and highly nutritious plants that can absolutely be made accessible, affordable, available, delicious. We like to call it radically convenient real food, to fit the modern world. But the infrastructure of America, from the food bill to manufacturing to the agronomics, are stacked in favor of the cheapest, least healthy ingredients. It is this paradigm we have to flip on its head (and we will write much more about here, as we march forward).
7. For now, as Kanye West said, don’t fight them in the media if you can fight them in the market. We’re going to keep on doing what Born to Run and The Omnivore’s Dilemma inspired us to do in the first place, and invent radically convenient real food to — we hope! — surprise and delight you warriors.
8. Born to Run is about eating chia seeds. But it’s mostly about a way of life, a story about a magical community, and how we all can take joy in eating simply and healthily, moving with the land, and being close to our neighbors. Health Warrior doesn’t use the word chia in its name because the reason to make the food, to eat the food, to fight the macro food battles, is to feel the way the book made us feel at the end of the day. It’s a more robust approach to our short trip around the sun, and we’re so grateful so many of you have joined us in such a short amount of time.
We’re just getting started.
In honor of this post and our two founding books, we will be giving away 5 copies of each with a box of our new Chia Bars. Head to our posts on Instagram and Facebook and comment with which book you’d like to read to enter!