We’ve often been told to strategize when grocery shopping. Stick to the outside aisles. Avoid anything our grandparents wouldn’t recognize. Carefully read over the list of ingredients and beware of anything you don’t know or can’t pronounce. While the intention behind this action plan should lead us straight to clean and healthy food, it can also steer us away from some less recognizable ingredients with purposeful properties and powerful health benefits. Sunflower lecithin is a prime example.
Organic, plant-based varieties of lecithin, such as the sunflower lecithin we use in our One Degree Organics products, is a byproduct of oil pressing. This healthy fat binds other ingredients together for consistent taste and texture and prevents premature oxidization. The crude (unprocessed and unrefined) lecithin is then standardized at our food partner Lecico’s facility in the Netherlands to improve viscosity and meet high-quality market requirements before being packed for buyers like us to add to our own recipes.
Lecico’s production of organic sunflower lecithin is completely different than conventional production, starting with the seeds, grown without any herbicides, pesticides, or the addition of any chemical products. “It’s pure nature,” says CEO Andrea Wolters. “The production is by mechanical cold pressing, not a chemical production with solvents like acetone.” That means that sometimes in an organic sunflower oil press, the yield is sometimes only 0.01%, but it is the purest, safest, and most beneficial yield available.
And healthy. Sunflower lecithin can support brain performance and cell function as well as help regulate metabolism, cholesterol levels, and mental health disorders, including lowering stress and anxiety levels and decreasing insomnia. “It’s a brain-booster, it’s good for liver diseases, it helps the whole metabolism,” says Andrea. “I know some people who take it if they have problems with their stomach, and it is used in the baby food industry often for babies who have digestive issues, so they can recover quicker.”
A deep knowledge of lecithin’s history, properties, and potential are what drew us to work with Lecico and visit them at their headquarters in Hamburg, Germany on this food transparency trip. “Lecithin is a very old natural product. It was discovered here in Hamburg about 100 years ago. In the last 30 years those benefits to the human body have really come to light.”
Being produced in Europe, Lecico’s lecithin in particular meets some of the strongest regulatory requirements in the industry, not to mention the company’s high self-imposed levels of excellence. “We have a lot of experience. I myself have worked here for over 30 years. We go every year to each supplier and make personal audits at the factories and production sites. We watch what is going on; how is the environment? How are they doing and how do they treat their people? Everything is carefully analyzed and confirmed in written form. We have a really good connection. We know who is reliable, and who is making quality products.”
This transparency factor is perfectly in line with our One Degree Organic Foods partner requirements and our goal of assuring the highest standards of organic, non-GMO, non-allergenic, and soy-free lecithin. Lecico works to confirm those standards exactly by collaborating with Eurofins, an international analytical testing company, to develop a special certification program that documents the origin of sunflower lecithin from farm to your plate.
“We believe in sustainability. This means we respect the balance of the environment. We want to make products that meet the demands of conscious consumers,” explains Marketing Representative Britta Witt. “Consumers want to know what is in their foods and at the same time, manufacturers want to meet these demands and produce their products without any conventional ingredients. For the final product, that means the ingredients should all be 100% organic, and that’s what Lecico does.” For us, that is the perfect representation of everything One Degree Organics stands for, and we couldn’t be prouder to partner with Lecico.