Soul food

Soul food


News
Dr Sarah Lantz and partner Jason Callender head the Buchi operation based on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Dr Sarah Lantz and partner Jason Callender head the Buchi operation based on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Aa

THE Wacol warehouse is abuzz with young artisans preparing their produce for sale. From bone broth and activated nuts to water kaffir - the air is a deep mix of boiled carcase and fruit.

Aa

THE Wacol warehouse is abuzz with young artisans preparing their produce for sale. From bone broth and activated nuts to water kaffir - the air is a deep mix of boiled carcase and fruit.

Management team Dr Sarah Lantz and brewmaster Jason Callender are running the floor, checking each ferment to ensure the highest quality kombucha is being produced for their business label, Buchi.

"I grew up on organic farms in rural New South Wales," said Sarah, taking a sip of freshly brewed Buchi.

"Farming is my background and, as a child, I wasn't really exposed to supermarkets."

Sarah became interested in food and nutrition during a stint at the University of Melbourne where she began to research chemicals in the environment.

"We're polluted with a whole range of industrial chemicals including food products which are made with added preservatives and pesticides - and plastics play a really big role in the ill-health of people."

After her research ended, Sarah decided to use her knowledge to change the way people thought about the food they were choosing to nourish their bodies.

"We've got all of this information, but what can be done with it - how can we create a different world?

"All the research I was doing kept going back to the gut. From my perspective, it's the most interesting place in the whole body."

Sarah said the gut was filled with microbes, had more serotonin than the brain and more neural transmitters than the nervous system.

"That's where the idea for Buchi came from."

The fermented tea is a product of a scobi or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Living and feasting off the sugars in teas, Sarah's first scobi or 'mother' came from an unlikely source by the name of Grubby, in Brisbane's West End.

"We can't make any claims but people will tell us they feel more energised and others say their joints aren't as bad.

"Everybody is different and some bodies will love fermented foods and some won't."

Chocked full of natural probiotics, kombucha is a simple way to maintain healthy gut flora and enhance the absorption of much-needed minerals such as calcium and iron.

"Buchi started with kombucha on a commercial scale about three years ago and it's gone to water kaffir and sauerkraut and anything microbial."

Sarah said the process of creating Buchi had been an "organic" one, with her and partner Jason "stumbling upon" kombucha while on a study trip to the US.

"We started drinking it as a way to get a really easy ferment into us and I got back to Australia and there was no kombucha anywhere, so we decided 'let's create our own'. It started so simply."

With a mere 50 bottles to their name, Buchi set up a small stall at the Northey Street Organic markets.

"We wondered if anyone would be interested in it and it sold out in 20 minutes - from there it grew to 100 and then 150 and so on."

Sarah said her biggest challenge was learning 'the business side'.

"When you start doing well and then you need to do it on a bigger scale, you need machinery and better technology but we sort of went 'you know what, this is our passion. This is what we want to do'.

With a focus on the community at large, Buchi has opened its doors to artisans with ideas for connecting people with their food.

"We're not interested in making their product directly so we provide infrastructure and business planning and resources for them to do it themselves," Sarah said.

"For us to be sustainable though, it's about us producing as much kombucha as humanly possible and getting it out nationally. I think people can be a bit taken aback when they see it because we're so removed from our food sources and from fermentation.

"That's why we love it when people brew their own, so they can totally understand the process and how it happens."

Currently filling shelves across Queensland, the growing taste for Buchi has not wavered since the first Buchi market sales.

"You go from 5000 labels, which, to me, used to sound enormous, to around 80,000 to 100,000, and when you're looking at that you're thinking you're learning a lot about food and health, but we're also learning a lot about business and how to make it sustainable.

"It's important for us to engage with consumers to see how popular the product could be and we've grown through grass-roots support and through our community."

With a goal set at producing 50,000 of the 500ml Buchi bottles per week and hopes to sell the product interstate, Sarah said the most important thing was to remain grounded.

"I think all businesses have to make a decision when they grow, whether they actually want to grow and why they want to grow.

"For us, it's a focus on the health of people and how we can build our community and, hopefully, we get to a point where we can contribute more to our community.

"That's what's so surprising about business. People are a bit 'poo-poo' about it, but there's a brilliance in it - there's ethical things you can achieve through business that you wouldn't be able to on your own and that's where we are at the moment."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by