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10.24.07

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High on Grass

New superfood masks nutrition the old-fashioned way: in chocolate

By Gianna de Persiis Vona


Three days pass before I discover my samples of Amazing Grass propped up against the front door that no one ever uses. The box is soft and soggy from rain, but this does nothing to quell my excitement. I love a package, even if what it contains are freeze-dried cereal grasses.

Inside, I discover three types of Amazing Grass drink powder: Green SuperFood, both plain and chocolate flavor, and wheat grass, all a little damp but apparently no worse for it. I mix my first sample of Green SuperFood drink powder with pink lemonade. Though not the most desirable combination, this is all I have on hand. I can't stand to wait.

The resulting concoction, while not as good as, say, an Americano with half-and-half and brown sugar, definitely falls within the category of what I would consider consumable, and I'm pleased with the buzz I feel after drinking it. Perhaps I'm imagining things, inspired by the potential of having ingested more greens in one eight-ounce cup than I've had all month, but I definitely feel a subtle but discernable energy boost. Within only a couple of days, I grow addicted to the chocolate-flavored grass, which I mix with soy milk and down at an alarming rate, possibly exaggerated by the fact that I recently quit coffee and am desperate to engage in some type of addictive behavior.

Bored with my own experimentation, I decide to branch out and try my samples on unsuspecting friends. The adults I encounter, however, seem predisposed to not trying my grass, simply because they think they won't like it, and so I'm forced to find a new set of victims, my own children. A few days earlier, after threats and cajoling, they both tried one sip, and then made gagging noises and refused to comment further. Bribery was obviously in order.

I start with a low-end bribe of $2 under the conditions that they consume an entire packet. They agree, and then begin to bargain. We finally settle on five Red Hots and five Sweet Tarts each, which saves me four bucks but probably annihilates the nutritional value obtained. However, the question remains: Will two boys, ages 13 and 11, drink an entire package of chocolate-flavored Green SuperFood, which, even in milk, fails to lose its disturbingly greenish tint? The answer is yes, and with nary a choke, gag or exclamation.

I speak to Brandon Bert, cofounder and co-owner of Amazing Grass with Todd Habermehl, about the beginnings of this four-year-old company and his inspiration to bring organic, nutritionally superior green foods to the marketplace. Bert grew up on green foods provided by his uncle and grandfather's Kansas farm, where he says the cold winters are ideally suited for the growing of nutritionally superior grass. It is this same farm that supplies the grass they use today.

According to Bert, the nutrient levels contained in many of our fruits and vegetables are depleted from poor farming practices. Add to that the fact that many of us don't have the time to eat as well as we should, and an easy fix like Amazing Grass makes a lot of sense. Granted, the idea of chugging down wheat, barley and alfalfa, with spirulina and chlorella thrown in for good measure, does not sound as tempting as, well, a lot of other things.

Because taste can be such an obstacle between any American and her greens, Bert and Habermehl have taken extensive measures to ensure that their products are not only of the highest quality, but as pleasing to the palate as it is possible for grass to be. For their children's powder alone, which contains 33 fruits and vegetables (who knew there were so many?), they tested samples with over 500 kids, adjusting the ingredients until the taste was right. Their attention to this detail has paid off, and even the wheat grass powder, which I was the most hesitant to try, proves more than palatable.

Bert tells me his commitment is not just to keeping it local and organic, (all of their products are processed locally and grown in the United States), but to be as green as possible. As members of the nonprofit Co-op America, Amazing Grass is helping to sponsor the upcoming San Francisco Green Festival, slated for Nov. 9–11.

At Bert's urging, I check out the website for the Green Fest, which will be held at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. With 150 speakers, including Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and, most importantly, pioneering journalist Amy Goodman, as well as 400 green businesses, live music, workshops and local, organic food and drink, this festival looks as promising as Amazing Grass tastes. For a mere $15 ($7 if you ride a bike), anyone can attend what is being called a three-day green party, with events into the evening. Amazing Grass will be there, and so will visionary activist and astrologer Caroline Casey, which is all the motivation this grass lover needs.

To learn more about Amazing Grass, go to www.amazinggrass.com; for details on the SF Green Festival, go to www.greenfestivals.org.


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