Lifebrook Promotes America’s Own Superfruit
Try this simple experiment: next time you see your doctor-and this can include most naturopaths-tell her you’ve started consuming aronia juice.
You’ll probably be met with a blank stare. To help your doctor out, you can say: “Well, think of cranberry, blueberry, pomegranate, noni, mangosteen…” Those are all familiar superfruits, known especially for their antioxidant power.
So is aronia a new addition to that familiar list? Yes and no. To be sure aronia is a superfruit, and it’s certainly rich in antioxidants. But the dark purple berry, which grows naturally in the United States, stands in a class of its own. This chart shows you why:
Aronia comfortably tops the best other superfruits in its antioxidant capabilities, and in fact exceeded more than 250 foods that were compared to the purple berry in the USDA study. Antioxidants are only part of the aronia story-but an important part. Without an adequate supply of antioxidants, our bodies progressively succumb to “oxidative stress”. That’s the biological equivalent of rust. Oxygen is a double-edged sword: it’s essential to life, but it also destroys it. Oxidative stress occurs when a peculiar kind of atom, called a free radical, is released in the body. Free radicals are atoms that are short one electron. Effectively, they raid healthy cells to collect their missing electron, and that’s where the trouble begins.
The effects of oxidative stress are numerous, from the breakdown of skin tone to the onset of chronic diseases. Almost everything we commonly think of as “aging” can be traced, in large part, to those rogue free radicals.
Just as oxidative stress creates multiple problems, so a powerful natural antioxidant has the potential to deliver multiple health benefits—especially when it comes in a natural, whole food that’s easy to digest. In the case of aronia, that promise is reinforced by a host of scientific studies. Researchers in university labs across Europe and the United States have discovered that aronia has measurable value for just about every major area of human health:
An All-American Story
What science came lately to discover had been known for centuries by indigenous healers. The aronia berry appears among the medicinal foods and treatments of the Pottawatomi, and early European settlers quickly recognized the health benefits of the wild plant. Even Lewis and Clark knew of its protective value, packing their meat in aronia berry powder for food safety and preservation as they ventured into unknown terrain.
In the nineteenth century, the aronia bush was transported to Europe, and the plant is widely grown there and used both for the food industry and wine-making. Ironically, it is now better known to Europeans than to Americans. Nevertheless, a dedicated group of independent farmers in the upper Midwest of the US has emerged to protect and cultivate this precious natural resource. Their challenge until recently was to find a way to make aronia known to the wider public. If ever a plant could rightfully claim the title “miracle food” it’s the aronia berry. Yet even after 15 years of rigorous worldwide research, aronia has remained one of nature’s best kept secrets.
All that began to change when two Midwestern retirees decided to buy themselves a small farm in South Dakota.
Tony Heisterkamp had enjoyed a successful career in the furniture industry. Now he and his wife Jennifer were looking for a quiet life in the countryside. They considered creating a nature preserve, and then settled on planting an apple orchard.
One challenge the new farmer faced was daily pain in his back, hands and joints. Preferring a natural approach, he’d been using high anti-oxidant foods to help, so he was naturally curious when a friend told him about aronia – a fruit that delivers between twice and ten times the antioxidant value of other superfruits. Sure enough, consuming aronia brought much greater relief than anything else he had tried. After months of research, he and Jennifer became convinced they should set aside some land to grow aronia bushes.
A Company is Born
As a born entrepreneur, Tony Heisterkamp cast around for ways to market the fruit. He quickly realized the potential demand for aronia would far exceed the output of his small farm, so he decided to link up with other growers. What he discovered was a scattering of small farmers who were passionate about this unusual fruit, but had no real plan to bring aronia to customers. The newcomer took it on himself to found the first organization exclusively dedicated to supporting aronia farmers: National Aronia Growers, an association of independent aronia farmers.
Tony and Jennifer Heisterkamp made their next big decision: they would launch new a company to share aronia with the world. They named their enterprise Lifebrook, to suggest a living flow of wellness.
The first concern for Lifebrook’s founders was to establish standards for product integrity. Aronia is naturally beneficial in almost every form, but the quality and purity of production makes a significant difference when it comes to actual results.
The first rule they set was that the fruit for Lifebrook’s products would be grown without use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Next, the berries would be pressed in US manufacturing facilities certified to the highest standards. Then every step of production would be monitored for purity and precision, right through to the packaging and labeling. Frequent random sampling would ensure the supreme quality in every bottle or pack. The Heisterkamps’ vision was complete: products that are 100% natural and help sustain agriculture for the American farmer, reaching the consumer direct from farm to table.
Lifebrook has launched with three initial products. The first is pure aronia juice in a proprietary natural blend. The blend has been shown scientifically to increase the efficacy of aronia, and it also makes the juice taste better. Next, Lifebrook offers a powdered form of aronia that’s soluble in water. It can be also used in cooking, for example in muffins, pies and cakes, or in fruit smoothies. Finally, there’s a multivitamin with a full spectrum of essential nutrients embedded in pure aronia powder. Future products are planned for athletes, children and pets.
Sharing the Fruits of Success
Tony and Jennifer Heisterkamp gave much thought to the question of how best to promote Lifebrook’s aronia-based products. Mass media advertising is enormously expensive and decreasingly effective. Online marketing, once an affordable shortcut to consumers, has come to present the same problems. As for retail stores, the challenge there is that a product sitting on a shelf doesn’t tell the consumer anything about its benefits—unless it’s well known, it is likely to be ignored. So the Heisterkamps asked themselves, how do people learn about aronia today?
They realized that although aronia is little known by either the mainstream media or the health care professions, there’s a growing number of people who have learned about the “miracle food” from the world’s oldest information source—word of mouth. They asked themselves: why not leverage the person-to-person communications that are already happening naturally? That suggested a social selling (or network marketing) model, where thousands of independent distributors are rewarded for sharing the product with their immediate circle.
The great advantage is that in those one-on-one conversations, there’s time to explain the aronia story and testify to personal experience of the product. For the founders of Lifebrook, another benefit is that network marketing shares the financial success of the company with everyday people, instead of a few professionals.
The choice of network marketing gives added meaning to the name Lifebrook, which speaks to the broader lifestyle benefits that distributors can enjoy. As founder Tony Heisterkamp puts it, “We not only grow aronia – we’re growing people, too.”