This is a conversation with Jase, Graedon, Nick & Raj of the Organic Mechanic, a social enterprise serving up organic goodness, blending for the people and the planet.
The Organic Mechanic serve up organic, vegan, superfood smoothies and raw living probiotic kombucha every weekend at the La Cigale markets, (with free hugs).
If you live in New Zealand, chances are you’ve heard of the social enterprise, the Organic Mechanic. With a strong social following of eco warriors, what draws people to these guys is their passion for the people, the earth, and the integrity they’re bringing to the food industry.
I first came across you guys blending and doing your thing down at the La Cigale markets back in July 2013. How did this begin, and where did the idea come from to start the Organic Mechanic?
Jase: After my Dad died in 2009 of Multiple Myeloma, my whole life changed. I was just finishing uni, I tried the corporate life but it wasn’t for me. In the last few years before he past he went to some of the top medical places in the world, each time he returned he brought back a wealth of wisdom on how to heal the body naturally.
Unfortunately it had been too late for my Dad, but I felt that this age old wisdom needed to be available for everyone. He also told me to follow my heart and so after meeting up with Graedon in Albert Park one sunny day and realising we had the same vision a little seed was born, the Organic Mechanic.
Having always felt drawn to make this world a better place we decided we had to be the change the world needed, and invest our time in creating something that would make a positive difference. My brother flew back from overseas to help and along with some amazing friends we made it to our first day at the La Cigale French markets!
Graedon: Before that sunny day in Albert Park, I had been studying down in Wellington. I was a classic uni student, pulling all-nighters to finish assignments, drinking far too much alcohol, and not really taking the best care of my body. It wasn’t until I started to feel the effects that I realised what I was doing, and sought to educate myself on how disease could be avoided in the future. The answer was a complete change of diet and lifestyle. This realisation meant my final year graphic design project was aimed at educating 18-25 year olds about how they could use food as preventative medicine, and break bad habits that would help them to avoid disease in the future.
I continued building the project after university and the following grew into what is now Education not Medication – setting the stage for the next step in the journey with all of our friends – Organic Mechanic, using smoothies, events, and social media to affect the most positive change possible in the community.
How did people respond to your smoothies when you first started out at the La Cigale markets?
Raj: At the time, many people didn’t associate smoothies with health. They were amazed that something so tasty and easy could be healthy! It has been really good going from that to now chatting with people at the markets about how they make their own smoothies and trading smoothie stories.
You guys have done an amazing job with your social media presence. How important would you say social media has been to your business, being able to directly connect with and educate people?
Graedon: It’s definitely our main channel of communicating with our audience, mainly because these days everyone spends so much time on their phones. Social media in itself is basically modern ‘word of mouth’, and to date we have spent literally no $$ on advertising, so it’s a great way to get the maximum reach for our message with the minimum amount of input. It can be a dark, irrelevant, and lonely place on social media sometimes, so if we can help to lighten it up with a bit of education, inspiration and general value and light, we can consider our job done.
Our recent Smoothies in Schools event was not your first, what made you guys decide to blend up green goodness for kids in low decile schools?
Jase: Well initially we came up with the idea because one of our tribe members was really going through a hard time, I thought it would be something that all of us could do together for the people that needed it most. We chose that avenue because our young people are our future, and our young people are basically indoctrinated into a system that isn’t really working. So in order to bring harmony and balance back to the planet we have to feed the minds of our young people with the truth, whether that be in food, environmental discussions or just loving and believing in themselves.
Raj: It would be awesome to get the kids families involved as well, so that it can pass through to the community and have an even greater impact.
Nick: Yeah, also we hope to not only give a man a fish but teach him how to fish as well. That is why we want to have fruit trees in low decile schools, help them with their vege gardens and then hopefully supply them with blenders so they can make their own smoothies for lunch or even pick and apple off a tree so they having something nutritious to eat for the day.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your business and what would you say your biggest achievement has been?
Jase: The most challenging aspect… hahaha good question! I think for me its all been a challenge, a really exciting challenge though! I’ve got to be honest it has been quite an adventure. In terms of specifics for a while it was hard to see it as a business, it felt more like a little tribe that was growing that would one day change the world. So in the first year we just missed heaps of the good systems that would allow us to grow sustainably, thankfully we have those now!
Biggest achievements, the whole thing has been so epic, from the stories we hear about it helping peoples lives, to how much it has changed all of our lives. All of us have grown so much and it has kept an awesome group of friends together. Working at the schools has been soooo amazzzing!!
Raj: I make all of the orders, so for me it has been tracking down the best organic, New Zealand grown and seasonal ingredients year round! It’s hard at times but it’s something we feel very strongly about and don’t want to compromise on.
You guys started off at the La Cigale markets, what are your plans in the future?
Nick: We have been working on brewing kombucha, which is a living raw probiotic tea for the last year. We see kombucha helping people dramatically with their health and wellness and we want to get it into the hands of more people around New Zealand. We are also stoked that we are going to be the first people in the world to set up a subscription where kombucha is delivered straight to your door each week.
Graedon: The markets were originally a place where we could test our smoothies out and see how they went down in the community. We’ve done pretty much everything you can think of from nut milks to cold pressed juices, protests, schools, hospitals, gyms, and we’ve even tried our hand with some yoga classes with the help of a few educated Yogi OMigos. We’ve probably also made every single business mistake you can think of too, but it’s all been part of the ride. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing how we can use our kombucha to reach and help to heal and restore more people, driving #smoothiesinschools to help create a more thriving and healthy New Zealand future for all.
Quoting Hippocrates, ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ this is the underlying message of your work. What foods would you recommend people get into their bodies?
Nick: Hippocrates is the truth! Lots of good quality water, most Kiwis are chronically dehydrated all the time! A constant supply of water to the body will make you feel and look great within minutes. Hippocrates also said that all disease starts in the gut, (science is only just starting to catch up to his progress). Feeding our gut bacteria with good quality probiotics will feed our good gut bacteria and increase our immune system and serotonin levels. Leaving us feeling happier and less anxious.
Graedon: I went through a wild journey with healing my gut lining, and I am finding more and more people suffering from the same problem. This was daily bloating, cramps, digestive issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and all sorts.
What I learned was that I had to cut out the inflammatory foods that were doing the damage, then I subbed in a whole lot of high water content foods like fruits and vegetables, leafy greens and probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and coconut yoghurt.
But it’s not just about the food, healing the body is a holistic process that involves feeding not only the body with high vitality liquids and foods, but also feeding the mind with positivity and getting out into nature.
We’re really witnessing a wave of more ethically focused, conscious brands in New Zealand at the moment, with the likes of Kokako, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Innocent Packaging and Bennetto to name a few. Where do you guys see the market heading?
Raj: It’s awesome seeing more and more brands like these popping up. It’s great to see businesses with messages and philosophies that go beyond the product they are selling and make a positive impact on the society and environment around them.
Jase: I think as our species continues to evolve we will continue to awaken and realise the importance of the food and the types of lifestyle activities we engage in. It just makes sense that we naturally progress into living more healthy, balanced, happy and energised lives. I feel like we are just at the tip of the iceberg.
Nick: We have a vision that New Zealand is going to be the healthiest, happiest and most sustainable country in the world that will then shine its light so bright that it will be an inspiration to other countries around the world to do the same.
To check out what the guys are up to or get some gut loving kombucha delivered to your door by one of the lads, head on over to www.organicmechanic.co.nz