Not only does Banza provide a higher-protein and nutritious alternative to traditional pasta, it cooks and tastes just like the real thing. And the best part? It’s sustainable too! Banza’s choice of ingredients, U.S.-based production, and fairly transparent practices earn it an overall score of 2.7/3. Its products are vegan, gluten-free, low glycemic index, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Additionally, as the company website points out, studies have shown that one easy way to reduce our carbon emissions is to swap out beef products for chickpea products. For those who have a plant-based diet, or are thinking of trying one, Banza provides a great way to get the protein your body needs in a plant-based form without having to do any extra work. While their products are more expensive than your average box of pasta, you can use less of it and still feel just as full (I speak from experience). The average 14oz box of spaghetti costs around $1.20, while a box of Banza cost around $3.67, however this doesn’t take into account the fact that it’s gluten-free. Most gluten-free and vegan pastas are more expensive than their run-of-the-mill counterparts. Even still, I think this product is worth the money you spend. After all, it’s not only healthy for you - it’s healthy for the planet.
With only four simple Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients, Banza Spaghetti makes me scratch my head as to why all pasta isn’t made this way. They even have a Frequently Asked Questions section on their website which answers things like “What is xanthan gum?” and “Is Banza pasta organic?” (it’s Non-GMO, but not organic, in case you were wondering). Those four ingredients I mentioned are chickpeas, tapioca, pea protein, and xanthan gum. As a plant, chickpeas are a very sustainable product. They require low water levels, have a knack for replenishing nutrients in depleted soil, and produce high average yield rates of 1,152 pounds/acre. As the base of a product, Banza has chosen an ingredient that is not only sustainable, but is also high protein and better for your health. The tapioca, pea protein, and xanthan gum ingredients act together as a binder for the chickpeas to form the various types of pasta that Banza produces. These ingredients are present in only small amounts. Of the three binding ingredients, tapioca is the least sustainable choice and pea protein is the most sustainable choice. Tapioca comes from the root of the cassava plant, which can only be grown in warm-weather southern-hemisphere climates. Banza would have a long supply chain for that particular ingredient, but it can be sourced sustainably if that is something they prioritize. The pea protein they use is a highly sustainable product which can, and usually is, sourced in the United States. The final binding ingredient, xanthan gum, is produced by fermenting glucose from Non-GMO corn to create a sticky binding substance. It is also widely produced in the United States. Overall, Banza uses simple, Non-GMO, sustainable ingredients to make their vegan, gluten-free, low glycemic-index Banza Spaghetti Noodles, so they earn a 2.9/3 for What It’s Made Of.
Banza is exceedingly transparent when it comes to sharing what’s in their pasta, but this practice doesn’t necessarily extend to their sourcing practices. Having said that, they do provide enough information to make some educated inferences. Both the physical box and online website state that all Banza products are made at Banza’s plant in Riverside, California, however, they don’t provide a lot of specific information about where they source their ingredients. It is very likely that the chickpeas, pea protein, and xanthan gum are grown/made in the U.S. because the northwest region of the U.S. grows about 70 million cwt (a standard agricultural measure which equals 100lbs/unit) of chickpeas per year. We also produce a large amount of pea protein, which, as previously stated, is a very sustainable product. The same goes for xanthan gum. All in all, given that Banza is a U.S.-based company that prioritizes using sustainable ingredients and has easy avenues for sustainable sourcing, they are rated 2.4/3 for How It’s Made. Their ingredients are sustainable, but they can and should be more transparent about their specific sourcing practices.
Given that Banza’s production is based in the U.S., Banza is subject to federal and California state labor laws, which are fairly comprehensive. I have found no evidence to suggest that they do not treat their workers and suppliers equitably. The only ‘blind spot’ I found in the supply chain is their tapioca, as that ingredient must be internationally sourced. However, given their prioritization of sustainable and healthy practices here in the U.S. and their statement on their website that they “work closely with [their] suppliers to ensure that their standards are in line with [Banza’s] brand values”, I would give them the benefit of the doubt for their worker treatment in the tapioca supply chain. Based on what I have read and researched about the company, their practices are consistent with their values, and one of those values is equitable treatment. Overall, I rate them a 2.6/3 for Who Makes It.