Navitas Naturals
Navitas Naturals
Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

The spark that started Navitas Naturals back in 2003 was food curiosity, and that fire is still alive and burning today. Do you ever wonder where your superfoods come from, such as the organic goldenberries in the bright yellow Navitas bag? To shed light on superfoods sourcing, globetrotting Navitas Naturals founder Zach Adelman reported about his journey to Colombia this month to meet our goldenberry suppliers.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

Navitas Naturals (NN): What part of Colombia did you visit?

Zach Adelman (ZA): I met with our goldenberry partners in the capitol city of Bogota and toured their processing operations with Mike Schwering, our Director of Sales and Purchasing. In Bogota, our partners perform quality control on the harvested goldenberries that come in from small family farms, they dry them at low temperatures, and then ship them to us from the port.

Then we traveled to the department (province) of Narino in southwest Colombia, near the border with Ecuador and Peru. Most of the time we were traveling on dirt roads visiting a variety of small farms in the rolling hills around the municipalities of Pasto and Ipiales.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

NN: How long has Navitas been working with the supplier there, and how is goldenberry business?

ZA: Navitas Naturals has partnered with our goldenberry suppliers in Colombia for more than five years. We try to meet all of our suppliers in person and to visit their operations. I have met with them in the U.S. before, but this was my first time visiting them and the farmers in Colombia, so it was very special after all these years doing business with them.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

Founder Zach Adelman (R) meets with a farmer and his family near Ipiales, Colombia.

Our goldenberry sales have been growing steadily, and it was apparent that farmers have been adding more goldenberries to their crop rotations and that it is becoming the number one cash crop for them. Growing conditions have been ideal so far in 2012, and the goldenberry plants looked healthy and vibrant.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

NN: What do they use goldenberries for there, and what recipes are popular?

ZA: They eat primarily fresh, plump goldenberries, which have a much milder flavor than the dried form. They are the size and shape of cherry tomatoes, and have the same texture, too. Navitas Naturals might start importing the un-dried goldenberries soon.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

The locals add them to salads, and to various dishes like people use cherry tomatoes in North America. They also just snack on them right off the vine, and add them to juices, which I especially enjoyed.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

NN: What kind of conditions do they grow well in, is Narino a hot and tropical place?

ZA: Narino is a region near the equator, and is at about 8,500 feet elevation in the Andes Mountains. So, the climate is temperate year-round and that allows the farmers to cultivate a series of staggered goldenberry crops throughout the year. It is warm during the day, in the 60’s, and it is quite lush from rain. It cools off at night, in large part due to the high altitude, but it never snows. The Narino region is beautiful, and the climate is pleasant, so I can understand why the people that we met there are so friendly and happy.

Goldenberries grow on hardy vine-like bushes that are about 6 to 8 feet tall at maturity, but can reach 9 feet. The soils are rich and get ample rain in this region, so it was apparent that there is no or minimal need for added organic fertilizers or irrigation. The goldenberry fruit is covered in a paper-like husk, like a chinese lantern. It is a beautiful plant, and the farms grow complementary crops that discourage pests.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

NN: Are goldenberries part of the history and culture there, or is it a specialty crop that only a small fraction of the farmers produce?

ZA: The goldenberries we import are grown on small family farms in mountainous rural areas. The farms are typically between 1 acre and 10 acres in size. Goldenberries are an important crop, but they’re just one of many diverse agricultural items produced on those little farms. Although goldenberries are a popular crop in this region, I’m not aware that there is a cultural tradition for them like other products we offer, such as the maca culture in Peru.

Our goldenberry crops are not produced on monoculture plantations. They are mixed in with many other crops for commercial and domestic use that support the family farmers. They are certified organic, and rotated with other crops to provide agricultural diversity that has many advantages including pest resistance and soil nourishment.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

Goldenberry seedlings ready to be planted and added to crop rotation.

NN: What kind of food do the locals eat?

ZA: In the country outside the towns of Pasto and Ipiales, most of the people are indigenous with native roots going way back. They eat a relatively simple diet of hearty foods typical to the Andes cultures including potatoes, corn, chicken, rice, pork, eggs, rice, avocado, milk and herbs. It is good basic food prepared in a simple manner, so I have nothing especially ‘foodie’ to report. Locals eat many of their meals in a soup form, and also depending on the village, they consumed a wide variety of fruits. Where we visited they added goldenberries to their recipes, too.

The most interesting local, traditional cuisine is a fondness for Cuy, or as we know them, Guinea Pigs. Cuy is more than a food, it’s also an important part of the culture in the Andes region, especially over the border in Peru. They’re a very popular food, and it seems that every family farm we visited was raising Cuy for domestic consumption and to sell. I understand that as far as meat goes, it’s a healthy protein source that is low in fat and cholesterol. It is a key part of their diet.

NN: What was your highlight of this trip to Colombia?

ZA: There were two. First, was the conference that Mike and I had with an association formed by 22 goldenberry farmers in the countryside of Narino. The association members cultivate the crops on small family farms on the side of rolling hills. Like most small farms in this region of the Andes, they grow a wide variety of crops for commercial and household purposes. With our partnership, goldenberries have become a stable and profitable cash crop for them, and we comprise about 70% of their overall goldenberry sales.

There was a very special energy and sense of excitement in the crowded room we were gathered in, you could just feel that it was a very important moment. Mike and I were a bit surprised, but very impressed that they had all traveled from their scattered farms to meet us. I will never forget the emotion in their thoughtful expression of questions and concerns.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

The personal connections are what make these trips so special. It’s clear that they are thankful for our steady ongoing business, and we expressed our satisfaction with the quality of their crops. We explored ways to help expand their business, and make it more profitable, suggesting potential value-added processing and products.

The second highlight was an amazing sustainable family farm we toured in a very rural , beautiful area. They had been working this dynamic, self-sustaining farm for a long time and had perfected some clever agricultural methods for this region. They didn’t use any external inputs to their operation, and they didn’t need to discharge or dispose of any waste, it was all re-used. Most impressive was their waste management system, which collected and broke down the organic waste from the farm using algae and a series of settling ponds. They were even capturing methane from their pig and livestock waste in a creative manner, and piping the gas to their stove for heat.

NN: Colombia has a reputation of being a dangerous place to visit, did you feel safe traveling around there?

ZA: I felt very safe in Bogota, and out in the countryside. I felt secure enough in Colombia that I hope to take my family there for vacation. The people were extremely friendly and polite, and there was no sign of crime or violence. Bogota is a very modern, worldly city, and even at night walking the streets I didn’t feel danger. Although the region we visited is specifically ‘not recommended’ for travel by foreigners, we only encountered friendly, courteous people.

Navitas Naturals Founder Zach Adelman - Goldenberries

NN: Some people have this vision that a sourcing trip in South America would be fun and adventurous, but is there a lot of hardship traveling about?

ZA: This trip reminded me how these trips are physically challenging. We’re only there for a limited time, so we have to pack in a lot of activity. We travel all over treacherous mountain terrain, on bumpy dirt roads often in the back of beat-up pickup trucks. You never quite know what, when or where you will eat. One trick I have learned on these trips is to bring along my own water in the countryside, just to be sure it’s clean. The days usually begin around 6 AM and we get back to our lodgings after dark. I can’t complain as the adventure and business value is worth the hassles, but it is grueling and takes time to recover once back home.

NN: What is your favorite thing about goldenberries, why did you add them to the Navitas Naturals line?

ZA: The first time I tasted a goldenberry, I knew I wanted to add them to the Navitas line-up. They have such a unique flavor, and the nutrition profile is very well-balanced, including protein and micronutrients like beta-carotene. They are one of my favorite products, even more so after meeting the farmers.

Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds - Celebrate Hemp History Week

Of all the holidays throughout the year, Hemp History Week is among the favorites of the Navitas Naturals team. In 2012, Hemp History Week will be observed from June 4-10. In honor of this celebration, our certified organic hemp seeds and powder will be on sale for 20% off throughout the holiday, until June 10.

Why is there a Hemp History Week? Hemp has played a critical role in our nation's history. Some of our founding fathers were hemp farmers including George Washington, and it was so prized that Americans were strongly encouraged to grow hemp during World War II due to its many uses and benefits, most notably its value as a strong textile and rope.

Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds - Celebrate Hemp History Week

Navitas Naturals’ organic hemp seed is imported from our partners in Manitoba, Canada.

Unfortunately, for the past several decades, the U.S. government has mistakenly lumped hemp in with its ‘cousin’ marijuana as a drug, despite the fact that hemp lacks THC, the chemical that has the mind-altering effect. Although it is legal to sell finished products containing hemp in the U.S., it is still illegal to grow the plant. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that allows the sale of hemp while banning anyone from growing it. Strange, right?

Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds - Celebrate Hemp History Week

Hemp History Week aims to bring attention to the many uses of hemp and to encourage Americans to reach out to their government to voice their support to re-legalize hemp farming. is a great resource to learn more about hemp, and the complicated politics associated with it.

Hemp is an eco-friendly crop that is pest-resistant, fast-growing and drought-resistant, and it crowds out weeds so that it does not require herbicides to thrive. Making hemp farming legal again in the U.S. could lead to an abundance of new “green” farming and production jobs that would help boost our nation's economy. If the government ended its opposition to domestic hemp agriculture, it would help eliminate the silly drug stigma that has caused confusion and doubt in the mainstream marketplace, and it would encourage more hemp food consumption, which would greatly improve the health of the population.

Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds - Celebrate Hemp History Week

The entire plant is useful: hemp plants grow in foreground destined for seed processing, while bales of stalks and hurd are bound for fiber manufacturing.

The hemp seed is a super-nutritious powerhouse of healthy fats, protein, fiber and micronutrients. It has been used for more than 12,000 years, making it one of the earliest known plants to be cultivated by humans. A diet rich in healthy Omega-fatty acids like those found in hemp seeds (which are in the perfect ratio of Omega 3:6 – ideal for human health) has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. Research also suggests that healthy fats improve cognitive function, boost mood and give your hair and skin a healthy glow. Athletes praise the highly nutritious protein found in hemp seeds as being more absorbable and efficient than animal proteins, and antioxidants found in hemp seeds have been shown to protect the body from the damage of free radicals that can lead to cancer.

Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds - Celebrate Hemp History Week

The hemp seed may just be the perfect health food! And of course it tastes wonderful, too. The seed has a soft, nutty creaminess to it that lends itself incredibly well atop cereal, oatmeal, salads and entrees, and it is a most wonderful addition to smoothies and shakes. Check out the many hemp recipes on our website and celebrate hemp today!

Navitas Naturals Golden Glow Smoothie - Recipe

Eating wisely to maximize skin health is never more important than in the summer months when our body’s largest organ is exposed to the most intense ultraviolet radiation of the year, and is subjected to other skin hazards such as poison ivy, insect pests and heat stress. It’s also a warm season when our skin is exposed more than ever for all to see. Superfood smoothies are an easy and potent nutrition tool to help keep skin healthy, and they’re a refreshing cold drink to beat the summer heat. Try this Golden Skin Glow Smoothie recipe, which is part of our popular 60-Second Smoothie series.

Our skin reveals our health, our age and our stress levels. Fortunately, it's easy to maintain a healthy skin glow when we take care of our skin by being thoughtful about what we put into our bodies and by making smart lifestyle choices that include plenty of exercise, water, rest and stress reduction. Superfoods loaded with potent antioxidants, essential fatty acids and protein can help reduce the signs of aging, eliminate toxins and decrease stress levels to help maintain vibrant skin health.

The Golden Skin Glow Smoothie contains several superfoods that are good for skin health. Tangy and tart Camu powder and Goldenberries contain high levels of the antioxidant vitamin C which helps to keep cells strong and able to ward off disease. Vitamin C also prevents and reduces wrinkles and fine lines by repairing connective tissue and supporting healthy collagen growth.

Omega-3, -6 and -9 essential fatty acids found in Hemp Seeds and Cashews help reduce inflammation, and may help prevent sun damage. Hemp Seeds are also an excellent source of vitamin E and phenolic acid, powerful antioxidants that help to keep skin glowing.

Navitas Naturals Golden Glow Smoothie - Recipe

Golden Skin Glow Smoothie

1 cup Frozen Mango
½ Cup Navitas Naturals Goldenberries
¼ tsp Navitas Naturals Camu Powder
¼ Cup Navitas Naturals Cashews
2 Tbsp Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds
¾ Cup Pineapple Juice
½ Cup Orange Juice
2 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Cup Water
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Ice
OptionalNavitas Naturals Coconut Palm Sugar

Smoothies made with organic superfoods are an ideal tool to reach a higher level of nutrition and diversity in your diet, whether they’re enjoyed in place of a breakfast, lunch or snack. That’s why we created the Smoothment – an interactive program that features easy & delicious smoothie recipes and advice from superfood gurus. The Smoothment seeks to inspire people to upgrade the nutrition of one meal or snack per day by adding an organic superfood smoothie into their daily routine.

Power Snacking in the News with Dr. Oz

Navitas Power Snacks made another appearance on The Dr Oz Show this week. This time they were featured in a segment about nutritious natural snacks. Celebrity dietician Ashley Koff R.D. highlighted Navitas Power Snacks in her round-up of the healthiest snacks, as an example of one with an ideal balance of important nutrients.

The most popular online article that steered many visitors to the Navitas website this month was from The article features the diet recommendations of famous ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, including his fondness for Navitas Naturals Camu Powder.

Maca Powder is the root of Navitas Naturals, our very first product. We're excited that maca is getting more attention these days. A popular new article in Equinox focused on its hormone balancing attributes.

Amazing Wellness Magazine recommended making your own healthy trail mix, with Navitas Naturals Goji Berries.

In the new June 2012 edition, Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine covered Navitas Naturals’ new tree planting initiative in Peru in partnership with the One Tree Foundation.

Navitas Naturals

We believe nutrient-rich whole foods are at their best when produced by organic agriculture and minimal processing methods. That’s why all our products are certified organic, and use methods such as freeze-drying to ensure maximum nutrition. Since our origins in 2003, we’ve been committed to socially responsible business, and our direct purchasing partnerships create and expand fair trade opportunities for farming communities around the world. We offer a vast selection of organic superfoods and information on how to enjoy them in a diet that can help energize an active and healthy lifestyle.

Offers not valid with any other offers and do not apply to previously placed orders.

Navitas Naturals
15 Pamaron Way
Novato, CA, 94949