Interview: Healthy, Happy Living with Irina Turcan, Erbology

Irina Turcan is co founder of Erbology, a thought leader in plant based nutrition, Erbology utilises the power of plants and makes them accessible in everyday foods and drinks.

What inspired you to create Erbology?

I founded Erbology together with my brother Victor in London. We want to change the way people think of and take nutrients. We want to make it easy for you to get all your body needs from real food, not supplements. At Erbology, you’ll find organic foods made from plants, many of which have traditionally been used in a medicinal capacity. The range is also suitable for people with gluten intolerance.

A lot of the inspiration and ingredients come from our childhood and the summers we spent in the countryside, close to nature. In our range, you’ll find ingredients such as Jerusalem artichoke, sea buckthorn and buckwheat but we’ve also introduced plants such as nopal cactus and chia, which don’t grow in the areas we come from. We love their unique properties; they combine perfectly in our foods.

At Erbology, we question what it really means to lead a healthy lifestyle, what is wellbeing.

We, as a society, have created a fast paced world, which you have to learn to navigate without getting overwhelmed. We rush, we stress, we leave little time for things such as a proper meal or a good rest of mind. Is this part of your daily routine or a luxury reserved to holidays? There are obviously solutions, quick meal options that are usually highly processed and low in nutrients, an array of synthetic supplements and even drugs that fuel the “quick fix” mentality. The intake of the so called “study drugs” such as Adderall and Ritalin for non medical purposes has been on the rise, especially among college students. We all know the side effects can be bad. So, what can we do to improve focus and energy without the recourse to pills?

At the same time, the Internet, and social media in particular, have been flooded with a new type of look that is fitted into some kind of a perfect life. I feel that so many people have been carried away and got under pressure to recreate that image. I’d like to quote Grayson Perry from his book The Descent of Man: “[T]he rise of gyms, factories of cosmetic muscle, is partly down to an increased desire to sculpt an idealised body – a body not formed by experience, but to fulfil a well-marketed visual stereotype.” Various companies have been using this stereotype to sell us fads, diets that do more harm than good and products, marketed as having some sort of superpowers.

At Erbology, we want to create a balance.

Does the food you eat make you feel good? The taste is important but do you also feel energised and happy? We want to create food that helps you do what you love and achieve things, food that makes you feel light, food that is nutritious. Unlike supplements, whole foods naturally contain nutrients that work in synergy. This makes them more powerful. Take vitamin C. Aronia berries contain vitamin C, polyphenols and other substances that work together to keep your heart healthy; and they’re so good.

What you eat is just a part of how you feel. It goes hand in hand with how you think about yourself and the world around you. It goes together with the movement of the body. Erbology wants to inspire you to live a good life. You can consciously make that choice.

What makes your products different?

The way we combine and choose our ingredients is unique. First of all, it’s the type of plants we use based on their nutritional profile. For example, alongside raw aronia powder high in fibre, you’ll find amaranth grain packed with protein and hemp seed oil rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

We’re constantly digging up new ways to integrate nature’s marvels into our busy lives. We believe healthy foods can taste great, and add a touch of excitement to everyday recipes.

On the other side, it’s the taste and the experience that comes with it. Erbology is all about the discovery. For our snacking range, we love taking traditional flavours, often common to specific regions around the world and combining them to create new and delicious flavours. On our channels, you’ll also find some delicious recipes using Erbology plants. We want you to discover new flavours and share with us your experience. We love when our community talks to us!

How do you choose your ingredients?

Quality above all. We choose organic because organic farming protects you and farm workers from harmful chemicals. We also consider aspects such as climate conditions and the amount of nutrients as a result of that. We like to develop a close and long lasting relationship with our suppliers, who share our values and place sustainability at the core of what they do. We work with our suppliers on fair terms and source only the best quality ingredients. At the moment, we do not hold a fair trade certification.

Is your packaging recyclable?

Yes.

How did you discover the benefits of the more unique ingredients you use, such as prickly pear and Jerusalem artichoke?

A lot of inspiration comes from our family. For example, our grandmother used to grow Jerusalem artichoke in her garden, Jerusalem artichoke was one of the foods she loved. Erbology was probably the first one to have introduced raw, unprocessed Jerusalem artichoke powder in Britain. Before, you’d typically find inulin powder as a processed extract. Our Jerusalem artichoke contains minerals and vitamins as well as inulin fibre that processed extracts are usually stripped of.

What are your personal health rituals?

Oh I’ve got a few and it all starts with a good 7 to 8 hours sleep and meditation. I’ll typically have a glass of water mixed with some sea buckthorn powder first thing in the morning (and about once a week a glass of water mixed with activated charcoal). I love sea buckthorn, whether it’s the powder, juice, oil or even dried berries. They’re really tart but I like tart. As for the oils, I take a spoonful of amaranth seed oil once a day, usually for a period of 10 days, then I take a break of about a month. I also love using our oils as makeup removers and moisturisers at night.

I don’t follow any particular diet. I make sure it’s balanced with healthy fats, carbs and protein.

For breakfast, I’ll have our tigernut granola. My favourite one is the Jerusalem artichoke and dark chocolate flavour. I only have a small amount and it keeps me going for long. My dishes include lots of greens, especially spinach. I am obsessed with tomatoes and basil. I used to live in Italy, so I guess this is where it comes from. I’ve also got plenty of other growing herbs at home, such as rosemary, thyme, parsley and dill. I generally have little processed food but you know sometimes I’ll have something fried.

What is your hope for the health of our world?

I’d like to see more people striving for balance and fall less for fads. In my opinion, no juice will do a miracle cleanse for your body and there’s no such thing as a superfood. Every plant is unique and eating more nutrient rich, organic foods, alongside healthy movement and thought is key. After all, it all starts with the way you think.

We want to feel inspired, and to inspire you to embrace healthy, happy living that nourishes the mind, body and soul.

As for what goes into your body, have more of what grows from the earth. An iron supplement may be a convenient option but it’s not necessarily better than spinach that contains iron, vitamin C, folic acid and much more. Take 3 minutes to combine it with banana and some berries in your blender and you’ve got a delicious smoothie made at home. It seriously couldn’t be easier than that.

www.erbology.co