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Features Made In CHINA

Living Out Of The Box

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 6 – CHINA

CRATES folding furniture series by Naihan Li


Written by Alina Rätsep

Designed for a modern nomad, these take-with-you-anywhere puzzle pieces of a house are what Naihan Li, Beijing-based artist and architect, first designed in 2011 for the ever-shifting Beijing urban playground. Now redesigned in ultra-durable black walnut and stainless steel, these crates cum living space objects are robust enough to travel with you for years – and keep on traveling with your children.

Many things in China change with lightning speed. Nothing tends to stay, and what is discovered is gone as quickly as it appears. Shops and studios, homes and office spaces – stories of landlords breaking contracts and demanding their tenants to move out within days are far to frequent in China. The ever migrating population of expats and locals are looking for an easy way to transfer from one place to another, and IKEA furniture just can’t handle it. Once you put it together there’s rarely pulling it apart without destroying it. At the same time, precious hardwood furniture is not resistant against wear and tear if it’s constantly moved from place to place.

Naihan Li created a solution that suits this generation of The Ones Who Never Stand Still. Inspiration strikes suddenly and without warning, and hers was awakened while unpacking art works from crates for an exhibition in Milan. Crates full of artwork became crates full of bed, bookshelves, work station, chest of drawers, and even a kitchen.

Naihan Li often takes the cream off the modern society’s milk with her work and whips it up with her unique interpretation of the world’s situation. Beautifully crafted, highly functional and supremely mobile – this time her satirical approach took the shape of a solution to a problem, as well as serving as a reflection of modern Chinese society.

Replicating finely finished shipping container exteriors, the CRATES are a way to “avoid losing life while being constantly displaced”, in the words of Naihan Li. The entire household is easily packable, releasing its owners from having to leave things behind or throw them away. “The crates make for a more sustainable living while the built environment is so unstable”, adds Naihan Li. “The household is broken into pieces, which are self contained and last for a long time while you go on the journey”.

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MADE IN

MADE IN japan

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 1 – INSTINCT

Global Guide to S&E* Fashion: Japan

*Sustainable & Ethical


Written by Hitomi Ito

Equipped with the knowledge of traditional dyeing techniques and expert skillsets acquired under artisan master craftsmen, Japanese ethical fashion designers are innovative in their approach to creating sustainable clothing brands. Using hand-woven textiles made of natural and organic fibres and dyes, Japanese S&E* fashion collections tend to be hand-crafted and soft – both physically and metaphorically through their silhouettes – while deftly juxtaposed with deliberate and blunt cutting techniques, offering a uniquely Japanese blend of modern and traditional.

Japanese culture has always expressed its deep appreciation for the beauty of nature through mimicking of its charm using colouring and dexterous weaving techniques: notably tsujigahana and kyo-yuzen, which reproduce the humble, modest aesthetics of small
wild flowers using the flowers themselves to extract the dye.

As a result of too much emphasis being placed on economic growth and fast fashion, these ancient techniques were being pushed aside and largely forgotten, save for a few craftsmen that were still practicing them. Rebuilding the connections between local artisans and the Japanese fashion industry at large – spurred in no small part by the consumer demand – became the natural first step towards the ethical fashion market growth in Japan.

Nadell

A designer of Korean origin, Yona Kitamura creates simple and everyday casual prêt-a-porter collections with notably sophisticated and eye-catching pattern cuts. With a strong desire to express the comfort and coziness of organic cotton – Kitamura’s primary material of choice – she incorporates wool and silk fibres to further emphasise that feeling of softness. Nadell collections utilize subtle and delicate variations in colour, favouring pastel greys, subdued blues, muted pinks, and mellow yellows – all hand-dyed in the Kyoto workshop studio by local artisans using traditionally obtained natural plant dyes.

www.nadell.jp

Matohu

Looking at the world through the lens
of traditional Japanese aesthetics, designers Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi pursue new variations of the fusion of Western and Japanese styles.

Working alongside local craftsmen, the couple carefully studies traditional Japanese production methods across various fields – from kimono making to pottery. Matohu collections then reimagine traditional forms, blending the old and the new, while using locally sourced raw materials and textiles.

Specialising in airy, silhouette-emphasising robes and dresses that are at times poetic and at times thought-provoking, the main focus of Matohu is on preserving the beauty of natural textiles and traditional Japanese artisanal techniques.

www.matohu.com

Ikkuna

Founding designer of Ikkuna – which translates as “window” from Finnish – Takayuki Suzuki firmly believes in using organic cotton: “Value addition [is] a vital factor. It is important to fulfil the psychological satisfaction of consumers. Organic cotton is excellent in quality because matured cotton is used, and it also provides a feeling of satisfaction by being involved in environmental issues.”

One of the best-selling fabrics in the collection comes from Showa, and is a twill woven with a 40-count irregular yarn made from Supima extra-long staple organic cotton. Ikkuna collections also utilise pure linen fabrics, which are tinted with tea dyeing techniques, as well as buttons made from shells.

Ikkuna is a cacophony of beautiful herbal-dyed pieces in dark grey, navy and sky blue, culminating in sweet and tender collections that extract the full charm of organic cotton.

www.ikkuna.jp

Kagure

“Kagure” – which derives from old Japanese and means “harmonious kinship” – was the first brand to open a ‘green’ fashion and lifestyle shop in Tokyo Omote Sando area back in 2008. “Kagure” is named in hope to draw together the spirit and wisdom we inherited from past times.

Showcasing an original collection of ethical fashion in collaboration with local designers, herbal dyed organic cotton, linen, wool and silk are used to great effect. Kagure’s main aim is to offer a sanctuary where consumers can find locally produced goods and traditional tools known as “mingu” from all over Japan.

www.kagure.jp

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Maker Profiles

Atelier Tammam

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 1 – INSTINCT

Bride-Conscious


Wonderfully fluid strong shapes and classic silhouettes, Atelier Tammam’s eco bridal couture collection is a thrill for a bride seeking a glamorous 1930s twist to her wedding dress.

Since its launch in 2007, the award-winning Atelier Tammam has taken the lead in the eco bridal fashion market, where it is highly respected for its innovation and, of course, sustainability practices.

Under the leadership of designer and founder Lucy Tammam the brand has successfully established fair trade, ethical and sustainable practices throughout its operations.

Tammam’s beautifully designed garments are inspired by 1930s glamour: envision vintage lace, luxurious peace silk and organic cotton, all expertly cut and sewn to accentuate the female form. Staples include cascading gowns in taffeta and subtly draped dresses complete with small trains – the perfect finishing touch.

It’s hard to come by a brand that favours both cutting-edge design and ethically conscious foundations, but Atelier Tammam does so with flair, showing brides the world over that there’s no need to compromise on style or ethics on their big day. 

www.tammam.co.uk

Categories
Art & Culture

Louise Dear

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 1 – INSTINCT

LOUISE, DEAR.


Written by Aindrea Emelife

Free-spirited, vivid and exciting. It’s almost impossible to condense the creative chaos present in Louise Dear’s work into just three words.

An artist with a simple ambition ‘to create beautiful paintings’, Louise Dear’s passion for colour shines through her large, contemporary, figurative works. Indeed, the captivating energy infused in her paintings seems to be mirrored in the artist herself and her vivacious personality.

Gazing at works by this artist is a vivid affair, with a vibrant and shocking explosion of colour striking from the get-go. Paints, inks, dyes, glitters and glosses are typically thrown, rubbed, poured and dripped over an aluminium surface, which is then sanded and stripped back.

Looking through Dear’s body of work my senses are invaded and stimulated, blending into one as I taste the candy colours and hear the paint strokes drag along the aluminium. 

Dear cites her main influences as Utamaro – the floating world artists – and their influence on the Art Deco period of the early 20th century. She has journeyed across the world, with her travels to South Africa and the Far East serving as a great source of inspiration for her work. Dear seemingly has absorbed the essence of the local cultures and applied it to her canvas with hints of kawaii and a kitsch flair. 

Alongside Dear’s intense use of colour is a keen sensuality, celebrating the beauty of the female form in a highly romanticised – and eroticised – way, stemming from the appreciation of innocence, or lack thereof. Her nymph-like creatures are entwined with bright flowers, with underlying patterns hinting at the transparency of the paint.

Dear is a painter who, put simply, loves painting, and her passion for her craft bleeds into every paint stroke. She’s not afraid of colour, but she doesn’t take things too seriously either. Her work leaves me with a sense of optimism, and appreciation of forgotten beauty, which she exposes so literally. A shining beacon of bright, bubbly creativity – Louise, dear, you are fun!

www.louisedear.com

Categories
Maker Profiles

Izzy Lane

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 1 – INSTINCT

SIX Loves… Izzy Lane

British-made ethical knitwear brand Izzy Lane works with one clear purpose in mind – to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of British wool sheep.

Whilst researching wool farming methods, founder Isobel Davies was devastated to find that 80% of the wool we used in the UK was imported from Australasia, with British farmers resorting to burning spare wool as the selling price did not always cover even the cost of shearing. 

Determined to re-work this poor economic model, Davies set up a ‘Sheep Sanctuary’ in the Yorkshire Dales, where unwanted sheep could be rescued and ethically kept to produce wool.

Her luxury knitwear is spun from the kemp-free wool of Shetland sheep, whose wool is left un-dyed to preserve the natural colours. The cashmere is made from the fibre of Scottish cashmere goats, also reared by Davies. 

At the heart of Izzy Lane’s brand philosophy is the belief in the importance of monitoring the whole garment manufacturing process; from how the sheep are cared for and the shearing of the wool, to the spinning, weaving and knitting.

Davies operates a network of hand-knitters who lovingly craft the luxury wool and cashmere collections in North Yorkshire. There’s a story behind everyone working for the brand, including several families who have been spinning and weaving for generations.

Today this award-winning luxury brand offers everything from slouchy cable knits and super soft beanies to dog accessories and knitting yarns.

Izzy Lane is the personification of country luxe with a twist: animal welfare is, and always will be, at its core. 

www.izzylane.com

Categories
Fashion Editor's Notes

In Print

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 4 – SPRUNG!

Prints: Charming


Written by Victoria Sekrier
SIX Magazine Fashion Editor
Issues 2 – 5

The print trend is by far the most ambitious since the mildly obnoxious Sci-Fi phenomena of a couple of years ago [2009 – ed.]. Print is going strong, almost as strong as the never-ending boho chic (it carried on from SS11 to AW11 and back into our consciousness throughout the collections of 2012. I’ll even dare to predict its reappearance in the SS13 collections in some form or another).

If you ever feel like you need to make an entrance or impression, throw a print into your outfit. Nothing draws attention as much as a bold print – apart from being stark naked.

However, print is a tricky one because it has the ability to instantly stereo- type: geometric prints say ‘I am intellectual and know more about art than you might think’; whereas a floral print says ‘I am fun and know more about festivals than I should’.

This season [Spring 2012 – ed.] I am most fascinated by nature inspired prints: from decaying metal to cosmic space, vibrant paint splatter to sea creatures and reptile skins.

Favourite colours vary between earthy greens and browns to punchy violet and fuchsia.


For SS12 Mary Katrantzou wowed us with photorealistic panoramic prints of aquatic life. Echoing cubism, Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga showed paint splatter pieces in bright red and blue. Joseph Altuzarra sent tanned girls down the catwalk in exotic fauna print dresses, whereas Dries Van Noten used tropical palm tree collage prints. Eugine Lin drew inspiration from rusted metals and decaying wood, presenting stunning digital prints

Don’t be afraid, there’s almost no wrong when it comes to wearing prints this season.

It all depends on your level of confidence. If you are new to print and are thinking of easing yourself in, be sensible and try wearing one print at a time and work your outfit around your central piece. If you are more of an expert and extrovert, throw in as many prints as you like. This season is all about experimenting and expressing yourself . To the printers!

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On The Radar

Fabric Revolution

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 4 – SPRUNG!

Fabric Revolution


Written by Tara Sugar

Milk, salmon, and coffee will soon be a part of your wardrobe. This glossary will help keep you up to date with these tasty new fabrics.

It might sound like a list of breakfast items, but milk, sugar, bananas and crab shells are, in fact, the future of our wardrobes. A number of seemingly bizarre new textiles made from pre- and post-consumer waste are being rescued from the rubbish heap, revolutionising the fashion market. These fabrics are surprisingly soft, comfortable, fashionable, and easy to work with: many boast wonderful properties, such as anti-microbial and breathability features.

Natural fabrics are generally made from either vegetable or animal sources, such as the hairs of animals, which, like our own, are protein-based and in most cases obtained without harming the animal. Fibres like wool, alpaca, and peace silk are gathered, cleaned, combed and spun into yarns, which can then be woven or knitted into cloth.

Vegetable-based fabrics are made from cellulose, the chief constituent of most plant tissues. Cotton is derived from the flowers of the plant, however many other plant fibres are derived from the stems and are known as bast fibres. Examples include nettle, linen and hemp. These are harvested, softened (either by chemical or manual/ mechanical processes) and then spun, woven or knitted into cloth.

Cellulose-based fibres require varying amounts of water to grow and process. Cotton is particularly needy when it comes to soil nutrients and water for processing. Rayon and bamboo are made from a sort of wood pulp, and these sometimes also rely on chemicals and high water usage. Although new and old methods are all being explored to reduce impact.

It’s important to check the labels and swing tags when clothes shopping as these will explain the fabric’s eco-credentials in full, if any exist. The next generation of fashion fabrics explores all kinds of unusual new raw fibre sources; here’s our pick of the most innovative.

Basho (basho-fu) fabric is made from the spent banana plant, after harvesting the fruit. It has long been favoured for summer kimonos in Japan because of its airiness and smooth, crisp surface. Like linen, hemp, ramie, and other bast fibres, basho-fu does not stick to the skin in hot weather. Traditionally worn to combat the summer heat, basho-fu is now a luxury cloth that is made in the village of Kijoka, on the island of Okinawa. New types of banana fibre cloth are currently being produced by Swicofil in Switzerland.

Crabyon™ and Tencel C™ are new fibres made from the chitin in crab shells blended with Rayon. Despite being an animal source, the crab shells are processed in a similar way to Rayon, resulting in a soft fabric made from waste. It is said to be beneficial to sensitive skin due to its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. It’s currently commercially available as socks, undergarments and baby wear, but the possibilities are endless. 

Ingeo has been dubbed a “natural synthetic”, often made from corn, but can also be made from almost any naturally occurring sugar, i.e. sugar beets, sugar cane and wheat. In the future, there are hopes to produce Ingeo from agricultural waste and non-food plants. Ingeo is biodegradable, so you can dispose of it in the compost pile. When exposed to high heat and moisture, however, it has been known to break down prematurely.

Lenpuris another Rayon type fabric made from white fir (pine tree) cellulose. Firs are a soft wood that is quicker to grow than most, and can be farmed fairly densely. The resulting fabric is exceptionally soft to the touch, and said to have thermoregulatory properties.

Milkofil is a soft new fibre and fabric made from casein in milk protein. It’s relatively expensive, but feels wonderful, is highly durable with other benefits: it has moisture-retaining properties which keep skin nourished, it is said to improve circulation and is naturally sterile.

Rayon, Viscose and Modal, Tencel, Lyocell are all made from plant cellulose but, are considered by some to be man-made as the transformation from vegetable pulp to cloth is often a long one. Newer developments such as Tencel are now made in closed loop systems where the only liquid waste is clean water.

S. Café is made from post-consumer waste coffee grounds, which have been re-processed in the world’s first mill dedicated to converting leftover coffee grounds to performance fabric. Today S. Cafe’s fabrics are bought by brands across the fashion space, from North Face to Adidas and Victoria’s Secret.

Salmon skin from food waste are being treated and tanned to create leather like products by ES Salmon in Patagonia. 

Sasawashi is a linen type fabric made from Japanese paper and Kumazasa herb, and quite new to the fashion market. Despite being made from paper, it’s durable and washable.

Seacell is a relatively new product made from seaweed cellulose (mixed with Lyocell).

Soya jersey is made from the fibres in soy husks (the little fuzzy peapods better known as “edamame”). It’s a luxuriously soft, comfortable, breathable jersey with great drape. 

Stinging nettles produce surprisingly soft, cotton-like fabric, however, nettles grow like weeds (since they are!) without any need for pesticides and fertilisers, and on land which cannot be used for other crops. This is a very old textile, currently being re-explored for commercial use, either as a fine cotton like fabric, or blended with wools to strengthen, and reduce shrinkage.

Trims and buttons are also exploring new and old materials. One World Buttons are producing beautiful unique and fairly-traded options made from found wood, natural rubber, carved bone and more unusual items like recycled glass.

The resale of leftover textiles is becoming increasingly important, with minimum orders for fabrics being high and the economic necessity of selling overstock. Beautiful Soul in London have started their own database, where hobby sewers and designers can buy quality overstock of beautiful S&E fabrics. [Beautiful Soul have since closed down their website and are no longer trading -ed.]

Many alternative techniques are being explored in the production of cloth, such as using ultrasound for dyeing, thereby eliminating the use of water entirely; and drying fabrics using radio frequencies rather than ovens, saving energy.

Softeners and finishing are two of many stages of high water usage in manufacturing textiles, however in new processes fabrics are softened with combinations of beeswax, aloe vera and vitamin E.

It’s important to know there is no perfect solution yet, but much progress is being made, and exciting new textiles are entering the market every season.
By supporting these innovations, we ensure that more research and development will continue to offer better solutions, and exciting new fabrics in the process.

For further information and to buy some of the fabrics mentioned in this article:

Milk Jersey from Offset Warehouse

Corozo nut buttons from One World Buttons

Sasawashi towel from goop

B2B innovative textiles from Swicofil

Categories
Art & Culture

Dalston Rio Cinema

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 4 – SPRUNG!

Dalston Rio Cinema


Written by M. Wray

Art Deco landmark lends its historical elegance to London’s trendy neighbourhood.

The East London neighbourhood of Dalston’s surge in popularity could easily be mistaken for a trendy hipster takeover in the same vein as Williamsburg in New York. Organic cafes? Check. An abundance of converted loft spaces? Check. A healthy population of fashion designers and other creative types? A wealth of hip young designers such as Christopher Kane and Gareth Pugh have at one time or another chosen to hang their hats here, cementing Dalston’s reputation as a hub of creativity. While its cool factor may be well established, Dalston’s importance within the foundations of cinema history and as the home of the Rio Cinema is less known.

In 1909, local shop owner Clara Ludski had the bold insight to acknowledge the power of the growing moving pictures industry. Transforming her humble auctioneer’s shop into an electric picture house, the buzz surrounding the conversion proved so successful that the neighbouring buildings were acquired in order to transform the property into the architecturally decadent Kingsland Empire in 1915. Renovated in 1937 and renamed The Classic, the cinema house epitomised the evocative employment of art deco style by cinema architects during the period. However striking its décor, the cinema’s greatest success over the decades has been the relationship it has cultivated and maintained with the surrounding neighbourhood. Whether it was showing cartoons, horror films, strip shows or martial arts movies, the cinema was able to weather the birth of television by remaining flexible and by collaborating with its patrons to accommodate their changing tastes.

It was with this ethos in 1977 that the Rio Cinema Working Party planned to develop the Rio, as it had finally come to be called, into a fully-fledged community arts centre, expanding its cinematic endeavours to include video art and photography. The Rio’s location some four miles east of London’s centre proved beneficial for the expansion of those artistic scenes that were under-represented or ignored at that time by the more established creative community found in Soho. Awarded an English Heritage Grade II listing after a major refurbishment in 1999, the Rio’s present day incarnation has the added advantage of a redesigned café, stocking a wide assortment of food and beverages, and heightened acoustics compliments of Dolby Digital surround sound.

While most of Dalston’s twentieth-century art houses have now shuttered, the Rio continues to flex its muscles under the loving care of a board comprised of elected locals. The cinema focuses its program on one main film a week, ranging from artsy indies to blockbusters with a conscience. It seems that the original owners had it right all along, and the Rio is still as classic as classics come. 

riocinema.org.uk

Categories
Wellbeing

A Temple of Peace

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 4 – SPRUNG!

A Temple of Peace


Written by Jessica Latapie

Ushvani is quite unassuming from its exterior, a contrast to the ornate interior of the Grade II listed Edwardian townhouse situated in the heart of Chelsea, West London. Once inside, a team of fresh smiling faces, a majestic tank of golden parrot fish and a warming facial towel infused with the spa’s own-brand signature aromas, helped brush off the bustle of the city for the hours that followed.

Usha Arumugam, former high-flying lawyer and founder of Ushvani (“usha’’ meaning “dawn” in Malay and “avani’’ being “earth” in Sanskrit), has created a Malaysian sanctuary adorned with dark wood and beautifully warm orange coloured fabrics, which make for a truly authentic Asian spa experience. This, coupled with a range of beauty products rooted in botanical ingredients are the fruits of four years of meticulous research and dedication to creating a unique and high quality experience – and it shows!

Launched in 2009, Ushvani boasts a bright and spacious Yoga studio offering one-on-one Yoga tuition, a wonderful addition to aid the holistic well-being of its visitors. Facilities include a tranquil spa pool, complete with hydrotherapy jets, a steam room and a treatment shower, separate from other shower facilities, offering different experiences at the touch of a button (including a tropical storm). 

After making the most of all that Ushvani has to offer I took myself off into “Damai’’, an aptly named room which translates from Malay as “peace”, for some complimentary fruit juices, dried fruit and water to rehydrate before I was greeted by my therapist. Once in the treatment room I was taken through my options for the type of treatment and experience I was looking for. From knotted shoulders to a consistent poor posture due to sitting at a desk every day, it was clear I needed some help to relieve the tension in my back. The Balinese massage was the outcome of the discussion; a deep-pressured treatment to uplift, ease tension and restore vitality. I was assured this was a popular and powerful treatment that also aided circulation.

Although massages are not the only choice of treatments at Ushvani, they offer a delicious and different menu of Eastern inspired massages from pregnancy specific to scalp focused. You can also book yourself in for body scrubs and wraps, facials or a full two hours of treatments of your choice as part of a package in the Asmara (“Love”) suite, a self-contained area that caters for two people. Back in the treatment room, as my therapist worked through the tension in my back, the scent of Ushvani’s coconut and hibiscus oil created harmony with the dulcet tones of Asian inspired relaxation music and spa sounds of the ocean. Ushvani balm was applied to the shoulders and neck where eucalyptus and other oils worked to reduce inflammation and revive the senses.

After the initial focus on the back region, the massage was then extended to the rest of the body to ease tension from head to toe. If comfortable with the idea, the stomach can also be massaged. According to Eastern philosophy, massaging the abdomen promotes better physical and emotional health from our centre and I would strongly recommend giving this a try. After the massage I was given some advice on the workings of my body, before being invited upstairs for some hibiscus tea – hibiscus being a prevalent ingredient within the Ushvani products as the national flower of Malaysia. 

Discovering I was quite dehydrated, knotted up in my stomach and that I had a sensitive spot in the ball of my foot, which directly linked to the tension in my neck, was a revelation and it was extremely useful to get some advice on how to make the symptoms a little better myself at home. The efficacy of the staff is to be commended as is the attention to detail, evident in small things such as the Eastern inspired beads on locker keys, and products available for use while changing, such as Ushvani’s own facial cleanser and toner which was a welcome addition to the pampering session.

All products produced by Ushvani are totally free from parabens, SLS, SLES and also mineral oils that are known to sit on the skin’s surface and block the pores. The range includes face-masks and scrubs using such ingredients as hibiscus and rose, a body butter made from coconut and kemiri (a nut native to Indonesia), papaya and cane sugar body scrub as well as body balms and oils infused with active ingredients such as eucalyptus. Each product prides itself on ingredients native to the East and is available to purchase at the spa or online so you can take your experience home with you. Once I was changed and bid a very pleasant farewell I floated back into the city night feeling revived, relaxed and ready to greet the Western world again.

Treatments are priced from £60: the Balinese massage starts from £180 for a 90 minute session. Further prices and information can be found at www.ushvani.com

Categories
Wellbeing

No Superheroes

Originally published in SIX magazine issue 5– ADVENTURE

There Are No
Superheroes


Written by Cassia Geller

They don’t exist. No Batman, no Wonder Woman, and almost certainly no Powerpuff Girls. There are, equally, no superfoods. No cure for cancer, no solution for brittle bones and no IQ-boosting free-pass-to-MENSA at the heart of a single berry. Not even at the base of an entire punnet. Yet, there are still foods that perform nutritional wonders. 

Neither legally nor medically regulated, officially, the term “superfood” doesn’t mean a thing. As such, adroit advertisers have few hoops through which to jump before they plaster the tempting title onto products and have us tearing them off supermarket shelves faster than we can say ‘goji berry’. 

To Catherine Collins, ICU dietician for the NHS, the term “superfoods” is ‘at best meaningless, and at worst harmful’, prompting people to forgo a healthy lifestyle and assuage their guilt by gorging on the superfood du jour. However, we have reached something of an impasse with the anti-superfoods brigade; the halo may have slipped of late, but the proffered substitute for piling your plate with antioxidants is to avoid oxidants. 

Moreover, while the institutional dictionary has scorned superfoods, the OED definition doesn’t seem so scary: ‘a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being’. So…like fruit? Or vegetables? It doesn’t sound like an evil marketing ploy, but it’s hardly groundbreaking. The point, though, is that some are substantially higher in phytonutrients, lower in calories and lower in fat than others. They are, by all accounts, ‘super’. 

While these include kale, blueberries, and a host of homegrown goodies, there is a plethora of foods that have been quietly fortifying civilisations for centuries. Foods that may not have had as much hype, but still perform nutritional wonders. Unprocessed and unpretentious, they’re the super foods without the super egos. 

Peru – Maca

Like the over-sexed parents of a pack of prodigies, the fertile lands of Central and South America have spawned foodie favourites acai, chia, spirulina and cacao – and now, maca. Bursting with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, legend has it that the Incan soldiers who consumed maca for strength before battle avoided it afterwards to protect lucky ladies from their alarming virility (cough). Nowadays, it’s simply seen as a highly nutritious, energy-imbuing mood elevator.

Africa – Baobab

One of the earth’s oldest trees, the revered baobab is widely used in traditional African medicine. Incredibly high in fibre, powder made from its fruit has around six times more vitamin C than oranges, more antioxidants than blueberries, more potassium than bananas, double the antioxidants of goji berries, more calcium than milk, and more iron than red meat.

India – Turmeric

A key player in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric’s superpowers stem from photonutrient curcumin. With powerful anti-oxidising, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin is thought to tackle everything from IBS to arthritis. It doesn’t break down in cooking so you can consume it in your curry or through the skin; turmeric paste works wonders on skin conditions and slows the signs of ageing. 

The Amazon – Cupuaçu 

Back to arable South America for what is fondly known as ‘the food of the Gods’. Believed better than acai berries, capauçu also has less impact on the rainforest, giving you sustainable points whilst stuffing you with vitamins and minerals and stimulating the immune system. It also contains theacrine, which provides the energy-increasing properties of caffeine, naturally. 

Southeast Asia – Coconut water 

On the purity scale, coconut water is bettered only by spring water. Why not, then, stick with water? Because it’s unsullied depths are chock full of electrolytes, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Touted as nature’s sports drink, it’s super hydrating, fat and cholesterol-free, and so much more interesting than water. 

Scotland – Aronia berry 

Finally, we couldn’t journey through the mystical world of superfoods without stopping for some local goodness. The super-berry market might be bursting, but these little beauties are said to contain more antioxidants than heavyweights goji, acai and blueberries. All this, and they’re now cultivated in Scotland.