Welcome to Wellbeing Wednesdays, our new Health & Wellness section presented by Bella & Bhakti‘s Kelly Fielding. Each week, Kelly will be bringing us local stories and articles to nourish and revitalise. This week, Kelly met up with Adam and Anya Kingsley of Peace, Love & Vegetables:
In this age of fast food, packaged food and genetically modified food, it is a breath of fresh air to know that there are people out there who are returning to traditional methods in the kitchen, people who care not only about the finished product, but every intricate detail that takes place from paddock to plate. There are people who wish to honour age-old traditions, utilise knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation, and return to the beautiful and simplistic concept of food being our medicine.
Adam and Anya Kingsley are such people.
“We’re both total health freaks,” Anya laughs as she juggles Aura, their young toddler, in her arms. Adam shakes his head in agreement as he feeds the wriggling Aura a spoonful of avocado straight from its shell, “Its true,” Adam agrees, ‘we go to health food shops on our days off together.’
Their company, Peace, Love & Vegetables is indeed a labour of love. Their warehouse in the Industrial Estate is a maze of various open spaces flanked by green trees and grassy bushland. Activity buzzes from the commercial kitchen, laughter comes from the main office, greetings are bellowed from the mezzanine floor and the downstairs cool room. The staff are all smiles and despite the buzz of activity occurring in all of the various spaces, the overall environment remains tranquil and harmonious. Adam explains, ‘When you walk into a health centre or a healing clinic, there is that sensation of peace – we wanted to cultivate that here. We are producing therapeutic food, so it is important that we do that in a therapeutic environment.’
Peace, Love & Vegetables is clearly not your run-of-the-mill food business. Grown from the ground up from humble beginnings, Adam and Anya are on a mission to share health and wellness with their immediate community and the world at large. Their products focus on 100% organic, gluten-free, probiotic-rich foods, utiliisng the ancient art of fermentation to create food that is not only nourishing, but medicinal in its very nature. Their product range includes a selection of flavoured sauerkrauts and has recently expanded to include a fermented cashew cheese and a coconut kefir drink.
All of their fresh produce is sourced from within Australia, locally where possible, and even their seaweed and sea salt is from certified Australian shorelines. “We spend a lot of time researching our suppliers,” Adam explains, “we want to make sure that the produce that we are using is of the highest standard.”
Adam and Anya pride themselves on being on the cutting edge of the health food world. Recently, their attention has turned to native, wild crafted bushfoods and their unique healing qualities. “We are in the process of developing a new kraut that will have native bush tomatoes, parsley and mountain pepper,” Anya says excitedly. “Each time we develop a new flavour or product, we want to be looking into Australian foods, wild foods, ingredients that have special properties and vibrant colours – a lot of what we do with the kraut is about the colour. Customers tell us the kraut literally jumps off the shelf to them!”
And she is right, looking at their product range and their vibrant labels, Adam and Anya have taken a product that would generally be rather foreign to Australian consumers and turned it into a fun, easy to use, accessible product to add to your shopping basket and everyday diet.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics and living enzymes. With the modern diet currently so void in naturally occurring friendly bacteria, it is becoming increasingly important to add these nutrient-rich foods to our diet.
Born and raised in Russia, Anya is the creative mind behind the sauerkraut, which was the original product that started Peace, Love & Vegetables. “I was always different growing up,” she explains, “I was always fascinated by health and healing the body naturally.” Moving to the States when she was 11 and later working in a health and vitamin store, Anya began to educate herself and experiment with her own ways of healing. Battling painful periods and intermittent fungal infections, Anya was taught how to make sauerkraut. “From that day,” she says, “sauerkraut became my staple and I have made it ever since.”
Moving to Australia, sauerkraut remained an integral part of her diet and often she would give a jar to friend who dealing with health issues, commonly candida or digestive complaints, “I would just say here, have a jar, give it a try,” and more and more, she found people returning to her with recovery stories, keen for a new jar of this medicinal and flavoursome kraut.
Upon meeting Adam, he too fell in love with Anya’s sauerkraut and within their first week of dating Adam had bought her a $3000 robot coup machine to start making the kraut on a larger scale. “Lets just go for it” was Adam’s stance from the very beginning. Initially just selling the sauerkraut at Santos, it began to spread into other stores around the region and then further up the coast. As the demand grew, Adam worked on building their own distribution chain, ensuring that they simultaneously developed a relationship with every shop owner along the way.
“Our goal has never been about money,” Adam explains. “It’s far more about building a community, a culture, spreading our message of health. That’s why we believe its so important to keep our prices low and fair.”
Anya believes that what separates Peace, Love & Vegetables from other businesses is also their desire to remain cutting edge and at the forefront of high vibrational nutrition. Also on the radar for the business is a new health tonic that Adam has been perfecting for years; a super-charged combination of ancient herbs, medicinal teas, wild crafted mushrooms – a potent yet flavoursome brew of natures finest ingredients. Adam, Anya and even baby Aura, enjoy these superior health tonics daily and are certain of their healing, rejuvenating and energising properties. The family follow a gluten free, low sugar, probiotic-rich diet and Adam says the importance of their diet is integral to the running of the business. “My diet is crucial to me having a productive day,” Adam explains as he leaves the room briefly to check on the quinoa they have cooking in the kitchen downstairs.
Adam and Anya stress that it’s not your usual 9-5 workplace. Keenly aware of the energy and vibration that is translated into food, it is of utmost importance that the workplace is a positive environment. “We play music to the kraut as it ferments,” says Anya. “Sometimes we even play Eckhart Tolle podcasts,” she says with a smile. Upon examination of the fermentation room, a warm enclosed space downstairs, it does indeed have speakers purely for the audio enjoyment of the silver barrels of kraut, the home for where the magic occurs.
The company has grown enormously in a short amount of time and is a testament to the vision and passion that have kept Adam and Anya going. “There were times in the beginning that I wanted to give up,” Anya says. “We lost a couple of entire batches and I said to Adam, ‘I just don’t think I can do this.’’’ Transforming small batches into enormous ones was clearly a huge learning curve for the couple and involved a great deal of experimentation and perfecting. Yet their enthusiasm didn’t diminish. “Adam honestly loves being here,” Anya laughs. “He hasn’t missed a single day since we began, even when Aura was born he was running between the warehouse and home ten times a day!”
Adam humbly explains that the business “is really just about promoting the way we live and what we are passionate about.” With no website to date (although one is in the works) Anya explains that everything has relied upon face-to-face contact and word of mouth, “It has always been our priority to get the product out there, rather than sit behind a desk.” Having only recently branched out into the world of social media, Peace, Love & Vegetables has grown a huge following in a short amount of time – testament to their loyal and expanding customer base. “I do the social media while Aura sleeps,” says Anya. “I upload photos of what I make in the kitchen at home and I love seeing the pictures that other people tag us in – what they are doing with our products is so wonderful.”
Listening to Adam and Anya speak, what is most apparent is their pure love for what they are doing and sharing. It isn’t about making zillions of dollars or eclipsing the market, it is about sharing foods that have helped them on their own health journeys.
Love dabbles in the corner of every space of the warehouse and in every jar that is filled by hand. Indeed, ‘love particles’ is an ingredient listed on every one of their products. “We have been instructed to take love particles off the list of ingredients,” Anya says with a tinge of sadness in her voice. “But we’re not going to!” Adam jumps in. “We are going to prove that its in there, we can, we really can!” and a look of love and excitement shines in both their eyes.
With much on the horizon for this pioneering team, the business is ever growing and changing. In the imminent future the downstairs section of the warehouse is going to be opening as a shop front, a place that will sell the full product range, as well as some special varieties, new flavours and seasonal one-offs that will allow Anya to express her creative flare in the kitchen. Peace, Love & Vegetables will also be having a stall at this year’s Byron Bay Surf Festival, where guests can try their products and taste the new superherb tonic that is waiting to hit the production line next.