Wednesday, April 15, 2015

MAKERS + MOVERS: FOUR SIGMA FOODS


P.S. | Head on over to my Instagram page for a giveaway of a bountiful bundle of mushrooms announced later today . . .

Where do I begin and how shall I start professing the deep love I have for Four Sigma Foods? I have experienced utter energetic transformation incorporating these funguys into my life. Their teas came at such a cosmically-aligned time where I was feeling energetically misaligned, with coughs at every turn + stacks of work towering over me. 

I had previously been exposed to medicinal mushrooms, but they were either in tincture form or in their natural beauty which, although is potent, is not the most palatable of foods I consume. Four Sigma Foods mushrooms teas are blended with stevia + other high-vibration herbs such as eleuthero for an earthy yet sweet cup.  So when I received my package, I chugged chaga at a [paradoxically snot-filled] public health lecture for an impenetrable shield of immunity; sipped on lion's mane for the sweetest buzzing + focused work session; and topped off meals with espresso-esque dark cups of reishi cacao. I'm over the moon about these mushroom teas, on cloud nine at another galaxy . . .

I introduce you to the mastermind behind these magical mushrooms, Tero Isokauppila . . .

TERO ISOKAUPILLA, FOUR SIGMA FOODS |finland + los angeles
Q: Tell us about yourself and how Four Sigma Foods came to be.
I grew up on a family farm thirty minutes outside of Tampere, Finland, which my family has owned since 1619. My grandpa founded an environmental school and my mother is a nursing-teacher, so an interest in things ranging from nutrition to physiology runs in my family. I earned my chemistry degree and did some nutritional coaching for a while, but I got jaded on the lack of transparency of 
the health and nutrition field—it's a business sector often full of bogus claims, high costs, and unclear production methods, which makes it hard for consumers to know the effects of a product. There is so much noise in the industry. 

Yet, that is only part of the equation. We are living in an era where companies such as Warby Parker are revolutionising accessibility of products through social media and technology. There is a push for health and wellness information to be transparent as well and engage in this fast-paced dialogue rather than pushing a message. 
This relates to my passion and experience in technology with Hewelett-Packard. Their mission to live a more sustainable and resource-optimised world and the 80/20 principle is the answer to this future of health. It's a system to hack our bodies for optimum digestive, hormonal, and immune function.

This mission has to go hand-in-hand with the fast-paced technological society. Promoting health and the use of medicinal mushrooms in capsule form is inconvenient for the rushing 21st century individual. Four Sigma Foods and our mushroom packets came as a way to deliver instant effects in a convenient form. Whole foods and holistic lifestyle unfortunately doesn't fit the generic urban individual's lifestyle. The average Joe or Jane is not going to take Milk Thistle tinctures and wait 9-10 weeks to notice its health benefits.

We had to address this instant gratification lifestyle, and we did that with our newest cacao and coffee products. Cacao and coffee are native forms and one of the most appraised foods—its effects are instantly noticeable. Cacao is so valued that it is used as currency in certain areas and it also activated the neurotransmitter of love. These two compounds are super-synergistic with mushrooms as well. They also mask mushrooms' bitter taste, which urban society has domesticated itself away from with bland, sugary, and processed flavours. This is such a shame as bitters are often the healthiest of foods. Cacao and coffee work as gateways to popularise whole foods and medicinal mushrooms in society in an instant and familiar way.




Q: How have mushrooms changed or shaped your life?
The effects of mushrooms for me has been a linear process. There is no epitome moment. It's like school: you constantly are learning and graduating onto the next level. I was recently foraging in California, for instance, in Sonoma coast. I was with an expert who, despite being a local, could not identify half the mushrooms we encountered. There is so much that we have yet to know, study, and understand with mushrooms and health in general. I, too, am still learning.

Q: Why are mushrooms so potent? Tell us about the interconnectedness of human and mushroom DNA.
There are multiple reasons. One is that people just don't eat them. When you don't have a balanced diet, and you completely remove an entire kingdom, you lack sheer diversity. It's the same with bacteria—if you don't eat fermented foods, shower multiple times a day, over-wash your hands, steer away from animals, your body loses its natural defenses towards and familiarity with bacteria.

Mushrooms are also quite similar to humans: 30-60 percent of their DNA is identical to that of humans, they expel CO2, and are prone to fungal disease and mold. utilise super well. They also have a miracle factor in terms of nature. They are vital to our ecosystem: many plants and trees require mushrooms to grow and often the myscellium stuck on plants are what give them their nutrient-dense properties. They also have been here for longer, so they have some wise wisdom in terms of Mother Nature. Take psychedelic mushrooms for instance: how can they manifest in such effects? It just shows how they are a bigger part of the ecosystem that we don't even understand.

Q: What are the medicinal benefits of mushrooms, how often should they be consumed, and how quickly do you feel their effects?
I always say, "when in doubt, take reishi." There are two ways of looking at it, though. It's imortant to recognise that mushrooms are a food and not a supplement. With any high-vibrational food, why start with herb 52 or 27? Add one or two, the most-covered and well-known, with the longest historic use and biggest amount of research. Mushrooms are one of the top researched medicinal foods; out of the top 50 most-researched, 10 of them are mushrooms. They are quite safe. King Chaga and Queen Reishi would be my go-tos for someone who has not incorporated these foods into their diet. I advice beginning slowly and with a select few. It's like going dancing, you learn the two steps. work on those those first. You don't have to go swing right ahead.


Q:Where do you source your ingredients from + why is sustainability so important in your process? Tell us about the extraction process and your aim in making mushrooms more readily available in this form.
Quality and where a product comes from has become such a vague concept in the health industry. It's also difficult with mushrooms as they require choosing the right genus and the right part of the plant (sometimes the plant, other times the pollen, seed, the fruit, or the root) for the most effective product. The most efficacious part of the mushroom is the fruiting body and the myscellium is weaker. At Four Sigma Foods, we always source our mushrooms from nature and never from the lab, which is a far cheaper way to produce products but much less potent.

Mushrooms cannot be consumed raw as you cannot puncture the shell, so it must go through an extraction process. They have water and fat-soluble compounds, so the process includes a double process. The water extracted properties are good for immunity and the fat is beneficial for hormone support. During the extraction process, we boil the mushroom for 12-24 hours and also process it through an oil infusion or tincture, which takes 4-8 weeks. Testing is the last difference that sets Four Sigma Foods apart from other companies: we test each batch for pesticides, radiation, and mycotoxins.

Q: What keeps you going? Do you have a daily routine or a mantra?
My routine is to not to have too much routine, as it makes me feel locked-in. I like to keep myself in the moment. My philosophy is hydration, with elixirs, spring water, and tonics. Customer feedback and the possibility/sense of a miracle is what keeps me going. I'm also a big advocate of napping. If everyone napped, there would probably be much less hostility in this world.



Q: What are some of your favourite snacks or foods that fuel your creative process?
It depends where I am and what is seasonal. I think diets fail because much of them lack in quality and lack of recognition in bio-individuality. People are often stuck in things that has worked for them in the past and deny the possibility that it might not be working for them anymore. Seasonality is also a missing link—we don't talk about weather, temperature, things that were obvious to indigenous cultures anymore. I eat less calories than the average American and think of my food in terms of including more nutrient density. I also drink more than I eat. Some of my favourite foods include avocados, oven-baked mango (I've become something of a mango connoisseur), chocolate, chlorella and spirulina, and crickets.

Q: What is your next big vision for Four Sigma Foods?

The future is today, so our mission and vision are going to be the same as today. It's to help people eat healthier by enabling them to incoporate these overlooked superfoods. It is to popularise medicinal mushrooms. Our mission is not convince the forager in Santa Barbara who has been making tinctures on Full moon for over 20 years, but for ordinary people, the John and the Mary, to use medicinal mushrooms and reap the benefits. It's to make them believe in the medicinal value of whole foods. It's to make them see the potency of whole foods in comparison to pharmaceuticals in healing our bodies and preventing disease. We don't make health claims, but aim to support people in their wellness journey. The mission is to continually learn a lot and have fun.