The Mayan word for strength was "chia" because seeds from the flowering plant in the mint family were a staple of diets in ancient times. In Aztec culture, chia seeds were so valuable they were used as currency.
The fast-growing plant’s prestige changed in the U.S. in the 1980s when it became associated with a line of chia-sprouting terracotta figurines. In the past few years, chia seeds have emerged as a super food. A one ounce serving provides fiber, minerals (calcium and iron), vitamins (thiamin and niacin) and is often associated with omega 3 fatty acids. Chia is a key ingredient in the new Evolution Fresh™ smoothies created exclusively for Whole Foods Market:
Cold-Pressed Organic Splendid Carrot features carrots accented with a sweet citrus burst from orange and pineapple. Chia seed powder, cucumber, ginger and turmeric combine to provide a nourishing and bright celebration of carrot.
Cold-Pressed Organic Avocado Greens has a tropical sweetness from pineapple and orange. The smoothie gets its leafy goodness from spinach, romaine and kale. Cucumber adds a refreshing, cool flavor to the creamy avocado and turmeric gives it a zesty zing.
“I’ve been challenged by my own wife to make a carrot juice she’d actually drink, because she doesn’t like carrots. Adding chia gives the Evolution Fresh juice the right texture. It’s outstanding,” said Dwight Richmond, global purchasing coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “With the other new smoothie, no company has juiced avocado that is palatable to me until now. Once again, Evolution Fresh™ has the perfect blend.”
Evolution Fresh became a part of the Starbucks family in 2011. While Evolution Fresh had been available in Whole Foods on the West Coast for many years, Whole Foods Market and Starbucks teamed up in the summer of 2013 to offer Evolution Fresh™ juices nationally in the grocery store that specializes in natural and organic foods. At that time, two juices were created as Whole Foods Market exclusives – Organic Ruby Roots and Organic Sweet Burn™. Positive customer response led the companies to create two new exclusive bottled juices which are available now in most of Whole Foods Market’s 388 stores.
“The Whole Foods Market shopper is anyone who wants a wellness-focused, sustainable lifestyle,” said Richmond, who’s been with the company for 12 years. “We have a lot in common with Starbucks in that we attract people who want high quality wellness products for themselves and their families.”
Developing quality products is Darlene Yang’s specialty. She’s a senior brand manager with Starbucks who worked with a team to create the recipes for the new Evolution Fresh™ smoothies. Yang, who is based in Los Angeles, has honed her juice palate by regularly tasting new ingredients and experimenting with uncommon flavor combinations.
Creating a juice that Whole Foods Market consumers will love is a “little more art than science.”
“We wanted to produce something different, and at the same time we want our Evolution Fresh™ juices to have a personality that stands out,” Yang said. “We want a good, assertive flavor that people will be passionate about.”
The Organic Splendid Carrot smoothie is a “celebration of carrot” with flavor notes, such as orange, cucumber and ginger. It’s made for the consumer who loves carrots, plus the Whole Foods buyer believes it’ll appeal to people who are looking for the benefits of carrots but don’t necessarily like their taste.
Richmond was a bit skeptical about formulating a green juice based on avocados, even though he appreciates the nutrient-dense fruit. The recipe for Organic Avocado Greens was adjusted several times and didn’t seem right until pineapple and orange were added giving it a “juicy sweet burst.”
“These are exciting,” he said. “People come to Whole Foods expecting to find new, unique, different things and I think they’ll enjoy both of these products.”
Yang admitted her Evolution Fresh team has an informal bet on which Whole Foods exclusive smoothie will be more popular – the carrot juice or the avocado greens.
“I have a favorite, but I’m not saying which it is,” she said with a smile.