Health-Ade is a drink company with a focus on gut health. Beginning as a farmers market start-up, the company has now become a popular kombucha producer selling in stores like Target, Whole Foods, and Walmart. Larger brands such as Coca-Cola have even taken notice, with the company investing 20 million in 2019. Health-Ade was founded in 2012 by Daina Trout, Justin Trout, and Vanessa Dew. While some scientists say more research is needed to confirm all the health claims made about kombucha, the gut does play a role in our well-being. A healthy gut is connected to mood regulation, a stronger immune system, less inflammation, and more nutrient absorption. With their probiotic-filled tea, Health-Ade says they can fortify a stronger gut by contributing to a diverse microbiome. The company is USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. In 2017, Health-Ade purchased around 1.2 million pounds of organic materials to make their kombucha. Their organic, simple ingredient list is a strength, as well as their work with non-profit partners. However, I wish there was more information about the sourcing and labor that goes into making the product.
Health-Ade Kombucha is a carbonated, fermented tea filled with probiotics and antioxidants. Probiotics can fight bad bacteria, aid digestion, and maintain gut balance, while antioxidants can neutralize free radicals that could lead to illness and disease. The drink comes in a glass bottle and will come in insulated, recyclable packaging if ordered online. Pink Lady Apple is one of their best-selling kombucha flavors. It is made with organic kombucha (water + kombucha culture), organic black tea, organic green tea, organic cane sugar, and cold-pressed organic pink lady apple juice. Organic ingredients mean that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides aren't used in the growing process. The apples are sourced from Washington, and their green tea is developed with their partners in India. The drink is also gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and each glass contains 1 billion CFU (colony forming units) of probiotics at the time of bottling. One bottle contains 70 calories, making it a low-calorie beverage. However, Health-Ade was sued for allegedly containing more sugar and alcohol in the drink than indicated. The brand paid 4 million dollars to settle a 2018 lawsuit filed by customers saying the kombucha was mislabeled as nonalcoholic.
Health-Ade has a brewing facility in Torrance, California, where over 100,000 bottles of kombucha can be made every day. The company used to buy their filtered water from Whole Foods but now uses its own reverse osmosis system. The black and green tea is brewed and combined with cane sugar. Then the mixture is poured into glass jars with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Glass jars are used for the fermentation to prevent plastic and metal leaching. The jars are covered with cloth and left at around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit so the drink can go through the fermentation process. High-speed filling lines will fill 700 bottles a minute. While fermenting the kombucha itself is a low-intensity process, I can imagine that lots of water, heat, and power are still being used within the factory. I would also like to see more information about their tea sourcing, as the tea industry has been linked to deforestation and hurting biodiversity.
The brand uses both local and global farms to source its produce. Health-Ade’s sustainability page says that they are committed to supporting better conditions for farmers and farmworkers. However, there are no further details on the page about how they are doing this! One benefit to using organic produce, however, is that workers experience less chemical exposure. In an interview, founder Daina Trout seems to have a very personal relationship with one of Health-Ade's growers. She says her “favorite farmer in the whole wide world is Papa Gene of Organic Etheridge Farm in Dinuba, California. He even sings to his plants. I’m really proud that he grows our pomegranates.” (https://southbay.goldenstate.is/gut-instinct/) It would be great if Health-Ade had a personal relationship with all of the farmers they work with! If that is the case, I would recommend they highlight the different growers on their website for more transparency. Health-Ade also partners with the Garden School Foundation to allow underserved youth to learn about nutrition, cooking, and gardening using an outdoor classroom. Taken from their sustainability page, the brand also composted over 1 million pounds of organic waste, upcycled more than 1,000 Health-Ade bottles, and purchased only paper straws and biodegradable cups in 2018. I would love to see the page updated for this year!