JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to another edition of Green is Good. We’re so honored to have with us today Sher Kopman. She’s the President and co-founder of Raw Foodz. You can find them at www.rawfoodz.com. Welcome to Green is Good, Sher. SHER KOPMAN: Thank you so much for having me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Before we get talking about all the great products that you have, Sher, and your great company and the yummy products that I got to try about an hour ago, I want you to share a little bit the Sher Kopman story, the journey leading up to the co-founding of Raw Foodz. SHER KOPMAN: OK, for sure. The whole idea that happened with our company started, actually, in mine and my sister-in-law’s kitchen. We, essentially, saw a very big niche in the market, very health ingredients, things that people could help with digestion and metabolizing the foods that they’re eating. There was nothing really clean and unrefined out there. We formulated these dressings to taste like homemade dressings but super healthy, digestible fats. We start with cold-pressed olive, unrefined, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar, lots of non-aerated spices and seeds like hemp, chia and sesame that make them creamy, so people aren’t missing that creamy, delicious texture, but all of the ingredients with them are actually amazing for their bodies. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How many years ago did you start having fun in the kitchen, whipping up some recipes, that you then were able to start thinking, “Hey, maybe we have something here that’s more than from us and our families?” SHER KOPMAN: Sure. Everything started in 2009. The thought behind all of that and starting to get our witch’s cauldron out without the heat underneath, stirring it up in the pot, and playing with different ingredients, and just having a lot of fun making things. We were taste testing with friends and family. We started with the salad dressings. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What was your first product? SHER KOPMAN: We started with our Caesar Serenity, Glorious Greek, French Fusion, and Purely Poppy. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, this is 2009? SHER KOPMAN: 2009 is when we actually formulated them. In 2010, we started bringing them into local markets in Toronto, and that’s when we first started getting into our first market, which was on the Danforth in Toronto, and quickly expanded into other health food stores and natural product line places that carried things similar to ours. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Who made the sale to the first market? SHER KOPMAN: My sister-in-law and I. Michelle Cass and myself went in and met with the buyer there, and he fell in love. Within a couple days, it was in the store. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Tell me about the car ride back home. SHER KOPMAN: We were super excited. We were calling everyone and just jumping up and down with joy. We’re very passionate about what we do, so we take these things seriously, but at the same time, we have a lot of fun. We have a great relationship, so we’ve always had fun. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Now, do you have a warehouse in Toronto you run this out of? SHER KOPMAN: Yes. All the manufacturing and warehousing is in Toronto, and then we have an additional warehouse that we started up in Inglewood, California, that services a lot of the U.S. business. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s talk a little bit about the last four years. You started with the four or five dressings. Now how many products do you have right now? SHER KOPMAN: We have 11 in total. After those four, we launched three more dressings because people were asking maybe a Japanese would be nice, a ranch, and came out with the Italian because the Green was really popular, so more of a vinaigrette style. Then we brought out our buttery spreads. One day Michelle came into my kitchen, and my husband and I were spreading coconut oil on our toast. She just had this spark and said there’s no amazing alternative to butter. There’s margarine and then there’s butter, but this is the go-to. This is the in-between. This is the healthy alternative. We formulated it using cold-pressed coconut oil and olive oil and hemp seeds, and put together this incredible whipped spread that is very buttery. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Sher, I had the pleasure, thanks to you, of trying that spread about an hour ago. It is one of the most delicious spreads that I’ve ever tasted in my 51 years on this planet. It was amazing, and knowing that it was good for me made it super amazing. It was really, really, really special stuff. You’re just doing an amazing job. For our listeners out there that just joined us, we’re so excited to have with us today Sher Kopman. She’s the President and co-founder of Raw Foodz. You can find Raw Foodz and all the stores that they’re carried in at www.rawfoodz.com. Talk a little bit about the stores. We went from the first sale that you made. How many stores are you in now, or at least, what brands? If our listeners are excited now and they’re starting to get hungry listening to all the yummy dressings you’re making and these spreads, where can they find your products right now? SHER KOPMAN: We are in all the Whole Foods Markets in Canada and the southern Pacific region Whole Foods. Everything is refrigerated, so you find us in produce or grocery, and the butters are in the dairy section. We are in chains like Mother’s, Lawson’s, Jimbo’s, Cooportunity, Erewhon and lots of health food stores. Of course, if you have a store by you and you want them to bring them in, please tell them that we have distribution all across the U.S. and Canada, and stores can bring them in. We want people to be asking for them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so great. You’re in all the big chains right now. SHER KOPMAN: Right now, yes, and we just got into a really great chain in Canada, so we’re excited. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, just growing every year. Every year, you’re just growing. SHER KOPMAN: Yes, and we keep intending on bringing more and more products. Our latest product, which is our cheese sauce, has been very popular. It’s going to be in a store by you very, very soon. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there, I also had the pleasure of trying it about an hour ago on a nacho chip, and it was amazing, the cheese sauce. That was really delicious. Why don’t we share a little bit with our listeners what makes your yummy spreads, dressings, food products different? What are the ingredients, and why are your products different than the typical stuff, the iconic brands that we’ve all seen and grown up with advertising that are owned by the big companies out there, why are your foods different and better? SHER KOPMAN: I’m happy you asked that. First and foremost, we are completely preservative-free and filler-free. We don’t have any corn, soy, gluten, nuts. A lot of low-allergen ingredients go into our products, and we want it to be readily accessible for healthy convenience for everyone. We also believe that in putting all the natural ingredients in there without the fillers and the preservatives, you’re really tasting that fresh taste and great aftertaste, and you don’t need to have the fillers and the preservatives. We use raw apple cider vinegar, like I said, with the mother, and that naturally preserves them. Our dressings are good refrigerated for 10 months. The butter is for a year. The cheese sauce is for eight months, so they have a lot of natural preservation, and unrefined. Everything is unprocessed, even the process that we use to make the products is completely raw, so nothing is ever heated. You’re getting all the natural enzymes and nothing goes through any kind of a process with the seeds that we use. We start with whole seeds and then they’re blended, so all the minerals are intact. The olive oil and coconut oil we use is first cold-pressed, so your essential fatty acids are there. Nothing is carcinogenic, and everything is really great and digestible by your body. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about that because that’s something subtle that not enough people know about. What’s the importance of those kind of oils and the quality of those kind of oils that you’re using, as opposed to the standard stuff that’s out there today? SHER KOPMAN: Huge. When you use a first cold-pressed oil, you’re cold pressing it in the sense that you’re keeping everything that is meant to be in it naturally still present. Other oils out there, like canola and sunflower and even olive oils that are not extra virgin or first cold pressed, they go through a refining process, so they’re heated. It becomes carcinogenic, and it’s not properly digested by your body. You’re actually storing it as fat in your body, and a lot of bad fat. It’s causing a lot of problems and bad gut problems in people. The health starts in your gut. When you’re using first cold-pressed oil, which are essential for your body, and also you need them in order to digest the vitamins and the minerals in your greens, which are fat soluble. When you use oils like olive and coconut that are first cold pressed, you’re getting all of that and absorbing all the nutrients, which you will not be absorbing when you’re using oils that have been refined. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s go over it again. All of your products are vegan. SHER KOPMAN: One hundred percent vegan, 100% raw and 100% organic. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We love being solution based on this show, Sher. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of avoiding overly processed foods today? SHER KOPMAN: Of course. I think the biggest part is overly processed foods are often high in sodium and the bad sodium, so table salt, and once again, things that go through a refining process. It’s basically junk food for your body. When you’re eating wholesome, pure ingredients that have not been heated or not been treated, then you’re once again giving your body what it needs, and you don’t need as much of it because it’s actually going to be absorbed and used as energy quicker than foods that have been refined. Unrefined, unheated, untreated foods are going to be used instead of being stored, and going to be digested instead of sitting and creating a really bad environment within the body. JOHN SHEGERIAN: As a mom and also as a woman entrepreneur, what would be your call to action for our listeners out there for the importance of considering a plant-based protein diet versus an animal-based protein diet? SHER KOPMAN: I think you have to start slowly. I never tell people, “Go vegan, that’s the only way to be.” I think a lot of people have a hard time. They’re on the go, they have families, they have busy schedules. For me, I started off as a total omnivore, and then I went to being a vegetarian, but I never really enjoyed eating dairy. It wasn’t working for my body, so from a young age, I never had that part of it. To become vegan was easy because I was transitioning naturally. I find that a lot of people question where you get your protein from and am I going to be full enough, and it’s so much prep work, but it’s become so much easier now with companies like ours and many out there. There’s so much healthy convenience and accessibility with all those ingredients, everything from your dark leafy greens, legumes. There’s so much plant protein available to you just from things like that, which you don’t need as much protein as people think that they do. When you’re eating a lot of greens and you’re eating quinoa and you’re eating beans and you’re eating sprouted tofu or tempeh, if it’s something that you can digest, then there’s so many sources of protein. Hemp seeds and seeds and nuts in general are very high protein sources, so it’s pretty easy. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit, also, about the marketing that exists out there in the world, both in the conventional supermarket world and even some of the health food world, where people talk about products being organic, but other people put this word natural on things, and it becomes very confusing in the marketplace to the consumers and to our listeners out there. SHER KOPMAN: It becomes very confusing. It’s very difficult when you have big companies out there that are touting whole grain, natural, even preservative-free, but really, when you break down the ingredients and you see citric acid and xanthan gum and a lot of ingredients going into the products that are really bad for your bodies and for children’s bodies, especially, right in the developmental stages, you really want to stay away from a lot of conventional things that are high in pesticides. A lot of crackers and cookies that are conventional go through so many pesticides in their growth. Young bodies are absorbing all of that, and it’s a shame when there are organic alternatives out there, and a lot of them today. It’s nice to see companies that are really looking at their ingredients and taking it seriously. I find that it’s very difficult for people that are not educated with ingredients to read an ingredient listing, and it looks very natural, and maybe sometimes they can’t even pronounce certain ingredients or preservatives, but they think the main top ingredients look OK, so they kind of stop reading and then they throw it in their cart. But it’s important to read every single ingredient. When the ingredient listing is more than seven to 10 items, you have to start questioning why did they need to put so much in there? What are they bulking it up with? Is that good for me? JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, our listeners should be looking for organic and non-GMO. If they see the word natural and nothing else, they should be aware. SHER KOPMAN: Definitely. Definitely read the ingredients. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about why eating less is really more when you’re getting the right nutrients and you’re eating the right foods. SHER KOPMAN: Essentially, when you’re eating whole nutrients and whole grains and vegetables and things that are not overly processed or overly cooked, you’re getting a lot of natural enzymes and vitamins and minerals. It’s going to make you full if you eat slowly and then you sit for a little while, rather than running back for seconds too quickly. You’ll actually find that your body is using what it needs and absorbing and utilizing the nutrients as long as the nutrients are really healthy from the start. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s have a little fun here. How many Green Festivals have you exhibited at, or is this your first one here in Los Angeles? SHER KOPMAN: This is my first. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, talk a little bit about the Green Festival, why you and your sister-in-law decided to have a booth here today, and how it can continue to help get visibility for your brand. SHER KOPMAN: I really like that it’s an eco-conscious event. We package everything in glass. It’s really important to me to make sure that people understand manufacturing-wise the importance of packaging and certain things that are going to break down, help the environment, recycle. The packaging is going to get into the food that you’re eating, so you have to be very careful with a lot of plastics. I know here they’re really into compostable and recyclable, and I also like that they’re non-GMO this year, and that they’re really looking out for companies that are passionate about what they’re doing for the environment. That’s really important for us. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Are we going to be able to see Raw Foodz at other Green Festivals that are coming up? SHER KOPMAN: Yes, we will be at the San Francisco show in November, and we’re super excited about it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Perfect. What are your other visions and dreams? Where can you and your sister-in-law take Raw Foodz? What’s the vision of the months and years to come? SHER KOPMAN: We want to keep bringing products out that people are going to get excited about. It’s going to make it much easier for them to be healthy, and hopefully consider a plant-based diet. We have sauces on the back burner. We have incredible cream cheese-style spreads and dips that will be coming out in the next couple months, and also some raw chocolate frostings. JOHN SHEGERIAN: This is it. This is really awesome. Thank you for being a guest today. Thank you for creating Raw Foodz and making the world a better place. For our listeners out there, it’s www.rawfoodz.com. Find out where they’re sold now, all the stores, Whole Foods and Lawson’s and Erewhon and all the other great stores across Canada and the United States. Sher Kopman, thank you. You are truly living proof that green is good. SHER KOPMAN: Thank you, John.