A reminder from Mason (SuperFeast founder and herb nerd) why we source the way we do and why it's the best!
What a weird and wonderful time it is, and far out am I grateful we have all these weird and wonderful herbs and mushies to keep us topped up while stress levels reach stupid levels for many.
Things have been changing around here at SuperFeast too, and as always, I like to have a little touch base with you all after we go through a stage of growth or change, simply because I personally can’t stand being speculative about whether businesses or owners I admire and support are maintaining particular practices, values and ethics as they grow; and I can’t stand it when I get a few years down the track and find out that “they’ve changed, man.”
So with the biz, as some of you know Tahnee has peeled back a little bit from the GM role (running the whole damn show) and is coming in for 2 shorter days during the week to mentor and train those who are stepping up into leadership roles, as well as ensuring the direction we continue to go in, never deviates from the grass-roots values that make SuperFeast so rad to begin with.
Everyone who has been stepping up into “management” roles has been with us for years already, have pretty much done every role there is in the company and are legends. We’re enjoying growing the team at a sustainable rate, and we still only invite people to come into the team initially on their vibe and genuine love for the herbs and what this tradition stands for. We enjoy watching people develop and move up within our team. Just FYI, we’re not going to suddenly start hiring people from corporate to help us grow rapidly (as many businesses do at this stage), as that will dampen the spirit of SuperFeast, and the slow and steady model works for us (and the herb farmers!).
I still own 100% of the company, so we answer to no one, as always. I always feel that’s important to mention as I’m often surprised at how suddenly a biz that goes from small to medium does so off the back of getting backing. This is of course fine, but then you answer to others, and I just don’t see this as justifiable when we have very particular sourcing and operational values that don’t seem to be shared a lot of the time from investors.
But the sourcing is where, as always, the entire integrity of the company rests upon, and I never want that to change (main reason I won’t allow anyone to invest in the biz). As we grow we come across shortages here and there on certain herbs. Trust me, its frustrating, and we’re all learning how to get better at our jobs and predict how much of everything we’re going to need going ahead. The shortages are from the farms, and I’ll explain why that happens below. We don’t source wild herbs if it strips the environment and leads to shortages. If there’s a shortage of wild herbs then the operation isn’t sustainable and we won’t partake in it. Every single one of our operations has the principle of "leaving the land better than you found it” at its core, and the aim is to ensure that future generations have access to clean land and this herbal tradition’s industry.
As you know, we source in a very particular way called Di Dao (check out more about Di Dao here)
which means the standards for quality are the highest in China and the world (seriously, no one can keep up with the way these are grown anywhere in the world and make it commercially viable at scale. If they are, they’re growing on grain or other substrates which lead to mediocre herbs). When we run out of a herb (like we did recently with our JING blend), I have access to lots of places who sell bulk organic and [supposedly] Di Dao herbs and mushrooms that I could order off to maintain supply, but that’s not the way we operate
. If we start dropping our standards for mass-produced organic just because we’re short of supply for a little time, then I’d find it hard to sleep at night, and you’d have poorer quality herbs and mushies (god knows there’s already enough of those on the shelves).
It takes time for us and our Chinese herbalist partners to develop relationships and conduct audits of new farms and foraging operations. We are always actively working with folks who own huge blocks of rural land to learn how to grow super-potent Di Dao herbs in the microclimates that they have on their properties; a long-visioned process.
Furthermore, in order to keep up with the growth, many of our farmers are teaching others in their villages how to grow Di Dao so that they can localise industry for the villages, create jobs and cease people needing to move to the city to find work.
There’s also a sense of pride when people come back to growing Di Dao, because it's connected to Daoism, it's connected to the spirit of herbalism and Chinese Medicine, and since the Spirit was cut out from Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 50s (when the government commodified it and focused on symptom treatment rather than harmony as health), it feels like coming home for many of them.We like supporting these new farmers, and will buy the premium herb they produce while they find their feet.
So what does all this mean? It means we’ve got a plan to grow sustainably. We still test every herb for heavy metals, microbials, aflatoxins and pesticides, and test way better than what regulators allow in Australia and the US, but to be honest, we know they’re always coming back clean.
Because these farmers have pride. They hold the flame of the tradition and they tell you how to grow the best Di Dao reishi or rehmannia or whatever, and they don’t need to be regulated, they need to be supported so that the genetic integrity of these herbs and Daoist herbalism survives and grows in this tumultuous period; and their small yield isn’t a burden on economic growth, it’s a sign they have the best herbs.
Don’t worry, they know that our partners still need to make a checklist during the audit; check water purity, ensure there’s no industry around them, get verification that they’re not using synthetic fertilisers etc., but the difference is this is done with respect and reverence, not some “regulator” checklist to qualify if they’re good enough to have the honour to work with us; I get this energy from many people who certify farms, and I don’t want that energy in my business.
So that’s my update. When there’s a shortage, bear with us, we’re trying to ensure it won’t happen again, but it’s the nature of working with the highest quality Di Dao herbs, and it's why they’re so effective.
Reach out if you have any questions.
Big love to you all and hope you are thriving during this time, Mase xx