Super good for health

What do chia seeds, maca powder, and quinoa have in common? They're all classified as "superfoods", which means they are considered packed with nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins, and can be found growing in the farms of Peru.

One such farm, growing chia seeds and quinoa, belongs to a local e-business called Superlife Co (www.superlife.co), which is run by three women - Valerie Chai, 29, Irene Lim, 39, and Feline Gondokusumo, 24.

In addition to running the business, each of them has had their own individual experiences with superfoods, which is why they are passionate advocates in the first place.

Says Ms Chai: "I chanced upon superfoods three years ago when I was in the US. I have some issues like constipation and menstrual cramps, but when I ate chia seeds I realised I had no problem going to the toilet, while maca powder helped regulate my hormones so my cramps weren't so bad anymore."

As for Ms Lim, her introduction into superfoods took place when she used to work as a designer in the advertising line, and often took energy drinks to meet tight deadlines. "I was looking for a natural and organic way to sustain my energy, and that's how I found maca powder," she says.

Youngest member of the team, Ms Gondokusumo, shares that she used to weigh 90 kilos, and tried a combination of "drastic diets and aggressive exercise" that were not working out to be long-term solutions.

"I started with chia seeds that helped me stop snacking, then I started eating quinoa and it helped because it kept me full. I lost 30 kilos with superfoods and I managed to maintain it in a way where I don't have to go hungry," she explains.

After getting to know one another, the three women noticed that it was hard to find good quality superfoods in Singapore, so they decided to provide them. And that's how Superlife Co was born.

Says Ms Chai: "We saw a lot of people taking shortcuts like popping pills and all that. And I think people these days are really seeing the repercussions of all these processed foods, and it's all linked to cancer. So this is something we believe in very strongly."

Superlife Co first launched in November last year, and at that time it only carried quinoa, chia seeds and maca powder. Since then, the inventory has expanded to include other products such as cacao powder, acai berries and goji berries.

On the website, the various products are sorted into issue-based categories such as "weight loss", "anti-ageing", "energy boosting", and "wellness", and potential customers can also find articles written by the three founders themselves - based on research papers that they've come across.

A 500g pack of chia seeds will set you back S$27.40, maca powder is S$43.90 for 100g, and 500g of mixed quinoa is S$27.40. Delivery within Singapore is free.

All their products are organic - USDA certified and Euro Leaf certified, and are sourced from various parts of the world including Peru, the USA, Europe, and Australia.

At the moment, Superlife Co is in the process of purchasing two farms in Peru - the first one where they grow chia seeds and quinoa, as well as another one that produces maca powder.

In order to ensure the farms are churning out quality products, they even have a Singaporean partner living in Peru at the moment, working as their farm manager.

"We believe that if we have a farm, we can look at the harvesting processes to make sure they are of top-notch quality. And in terms of harvesting and supply, we don't want to suddenly run out of products," explains Ms Chai.

When asked why they chose to buy a farm far away in Peru, she explains that because these superfoods originated in South America, the climate there is one of the most suitable for growing them.

She adds: "The concern is that while Cameron Highlands or Indonesia have a lot of mountains, there's also a lot of pollution. These foods are very sensitive, so once there's pollution in the air, they absorb that as well."

For now, Superlife Co operates mainly in Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, but it will soon be expanding to other countries such as the USA.

Says Ms Chai: "If you look at trends throughout the world, everybody is now jumping on the bandwagon of natural and unprocessed food... this is a good business to be in. We feel good helping other people as we're also helping ourselves."

@RachelLoiBT rachloi@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on November 21, 2015.
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