Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's Talk About Agave

We have heard from a number of people who were alarmed by what they read in Dr. Mercola's recent article about agave syrup. We also were alarmed --not by the case Dr. Mercola makes, but by some blatant misinformation contained in his article.

We care very much about the healthfulness and integrity of our products, so we decided that it was very important for us to personally see, firsthand, where our agave syrup comes from and the process by which it is made. So in February, our general manager, Doug Furlong, took a trip to Jalisco, Mexico, to visit the agave fields and processing plants where our agave syrup is produced. (This trip is documented, with photos, on our blog at:

What Doug saw was completely different from what Mercola describes. Mercola states,

"The process by which agave starch and inulin are converted into "nectar" is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1. The agave starch is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals."

Doug, who has an extensive background in food science and manufacturing, witnessed the entire process, from harvest to finished product, and what he saw was a very simple process in which the agave piƱas (which, contrary to what Mercola states, contain no starch), were ground up and sprayed with water to remove the juice, which was then heated to break down the inulin into fructose, mechanically filtered through screens to remove impurities, and then evaporated with a process that used only heat and a vacuum to remove excess moisture. That’s it. None of the chemicals or enzymes that Mercola describes were used, and there is no resemblance to the process used to make HFCS1. If you have ever ground, heated and strained something in your kitchen (e.g., making applesauce or tomato sauce), that is a much closer comparison to the process used to make agave syrup.

Dr. Mercola goes on to make what we find to be an offensive generalization when he refers to "...poor quality control in Mexican processing plants..." What Doug saw in the three plants he visited was state-of-the art equipment and extensive sanitation and quality control procedures that matched the best food processing plants he's seen in the U.S. He also got to spend time with the farmers and the people who work in the plants (two of which are collectively owned by the farmers), and was impressed with the great sense of pride they had in the quality and integrity of their work. The plants and farms are also certified in compliance with USDA organic standards, and meet several other international standards for quality assurance. The certified organic agave farms use no inputs of any kind on the plants—no fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides—not even water. The agave plants are very well adapted to the environment in Jalisco and naturally thrive there.

While we cannot vouch for the whole agave industry, but only for the three facilities Doug visited (which supply not only us, but many other excellent organic food companies), some of the negative claims that Mercola makes about the agave industry (e.g., “there are very few quality controls in place to monitor the production of agave syrup…”; “…some distributors are cutting agave syrup with corn syrup..”), are not documented in his article. This raises the question of whether they are based on hearsay and conjecture rather than data.

The issue of fructose in the diet is very complex, and there is a dizzying array of conflicting information circulating around the Internet about this topic. We are continuing to do our own exploration and research on this, but I encourage everyone to take what you read on this subject with a hearty grain of salt, and to explore the research yourself. If you dig in to many of the articles that have recently been circulating around the Internet, you will see that there are very few actual research studies cited, but much extrapolation, conjecture, inference, questionable or faulty interpretation of research, and blatant misinformation.

What we have found, so far, in the studies we have seen, is that fructose is only problematic in excess, but causes no difficulties, for most people, in moderate amounts (up to 50-60 grams per day). Moderation is essential. Coconut Bliss is a dessert, not a staple food, and we have to trust people to consume it appropriately. We agree with many of the agave critics when they say that it is a problem that some people assume that the low glycemic index of agave syrup gives them carte blanche to consume it in large quantities. It is important to keep in mind that many foods or nutrients can cause health problems when eaten in excess.

We have asked a highly credentialed nutritionist, Buck Levin, Ph.D., R.D., for his assessment of the health properties of Coconut Bliss. Here is his conclusion:

“The amount of fructose provided by one serving of Coconut Bliss (between 10-12 grams) falls well under the risk threshold established in these dietary studies. It’s not only an amount of fructose that falls well under the health risk level, but it’s also an amount of fructose that is readily matched and exceeded in many whole, natural foods. A large apple, for example (3.25 inches in diameter), contains slightly more fructose (13 grams). So does 1 medium-sized banana plus 1 cup of blueberries. And if you compare the amount of fructose in one serving of Coconut Bliss with the amount of fructose in 200 calories worth of many other commonly-consumed foods, it is dramatically lower. 200 hundred calories worth of unsweetened applesauce, for example, contains 25-30 grams of fructose. So does 200 calories worth of unsweetened apple juice or grape juice. Even 200 calories worth of red grapes contain about twice as much fructose (23 grams) as a serving of Coconut Bliss with the same caloric value. Given these everyday food comparisons and the health research on fructose as a dietary risk factor, the use of agave syrup as an ice cream sweetener seems far from excessive and also removed from research-based health concerns in this area.”

(Buck’s full article, including extensive documentation, is available at:

Another very clear and well documented paper about agave syrup, fructose, and other sugars, can be found here:

I do not question Dr. Mercola’s motives, but sadly recognize that we live in a time and culture where everyone and everything seems to be suspect (often deservedly so), and negative charges seem to be given much more credibility than positive ones. Sensationalism sells. Our current politics are full of this (many people probably still believe that Barack Obama is not really a U.S. citizen!) I would welcome a public discussion about agave syrup that is based, not on sensationalism and bully pulpits, but rather on facts and documented research.

Blissfully yours,

Larry Kaplowitz

Co-founder, Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss

Monday, March 29, 2010

Doug Visits our Agave Farm (Part 2)

This is part two of a travel journal from our General Manager, Doug Furlong; he visited the source of our agave nectar in Jalisco, Mexico. The blog post has been moved to our new blog and website here:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Diana Stobo Kale Colada Recipe with Pineapple Coconut Bliss

Diana loves our Coconut Bliss in her "Kale Colada" smoothie. She adds Pineapple Coconut Bliss in at about 1:30. ;) YUM!

Feel free to check out her health & nutrition book "Get Naked Fast" and her site; there's great stuff in there. She also recommends us as a healthier food choice in her book. Thanks, Diana!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Expo West 2010 Recap: Bliss in Anaheim

Chris G., Marc D., Kris W. , Toby G. 

It was fun, it was loud, it was successful: Expo West (and East) is an event that any natural products company should make a space for on their calendar. Whether you go there to view new products or share your own, it's the place to download massive amounts of ideas regarding healthy food, beverages, beauty goods, and more. 

Bliss Demo Queen Christina S.

Toby at the booth--note our new "Food Service "1.5 gallon tubs!

Our newest item? We're now offering 1.5 gallon 'food service' tubs; if you've got a restaurant/ice cream-coffee-smoothie shop, or commissary and you'd like some, you can reach us at 

Airplanes are fun...

The 'conga line' in front of our booth (that was rumored to happen on Facebook) never materialized. However, we were very appreciative of our booth visitors, and their patience, as they waited in long lines to sample our many flavors of "Bliss".


I'm back in my office finally, enjoying a bar of Naked Coconut. is good to be back home. :) If I missed you at Expo or if you have something to share about your experiences there, please leave me a comment.  Blessings. :) 

~Marc D. , National Sales Manager

Friday, March 5, 2010

Free Bliss: Demos For The Next 2 Weeks of March UPDATED

Here's where you can find Bliss for the next 2 weeks of March. Check out these demos--it's a great chance to try a new flavor, or revisit an old one.

And enjoy your weekend... :

Saturday March 6th

Ernie @ Whole Foods Harry’s Farmer’s Market in Alpharetta, GA 11-6 (11-2 is Ice Cream Contest)
Kristina @ Co-Opportunity in Santa Monica, CA 11-2
Layla @ Olympia Co-Op East in Olympia, WA 11-2
Rachel @ Town & Country Ballard in Seattle, WA 11-2
Steve @ Zupan’s on Burnside in Portland, OR 11-2
Layla @ Olympia Co-Op West in Olympia, WA 3-6
Steve @ Food Front in Portland, OR 3-6
Taryn @ Whole Foods Paradise Valley in Phoenix, AZ 4:30-7:30

Thursday March 11th-Sunday March 14th

Coconut Bliss @ EXPO West in Anaheim, CA
Sunday March 7th

Kris @ Whole Foods Redondo Beach in CA 11-2
Wednesday, March 10th

Melanie @ Harvest Co-Op in Cambridge, MA 1-4

Friday March 12th

Anne @ Harvest Market in Ft. Bragg, CA 3-7
Saturday March 13th

Ciera @ Good Earth in Sandy, UT. 11-2
David @ Vitamin Cottage in Austin, TX 11-2
Megan @ Vitamin Cottage Northglenn in Denver, CO 11-2
Nicole @ Fresh & Natural in Plymouth, MN 11-2
Priya @ New Leaf Community Market in Felton, CA 11-2
Sarah @ Natural Food Patch in Ferndale, MI 11-2
Shelly @ Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA 11-2
Taryn @ Whole Foods in Chandler, AZ. 11-2
Melanie @ Good Health in Hanover, MD 1-4
Sarah @ Plum Market Bloomfield Hills Location in MI 3-6
Tuesday March 16th

Christine @ Whole Foods Bowery in New York 12-3
Friday March 19th

Marie @ Organica in North Vale, NJ 11-2
Megan @ Whole Foods Cherry Creek in Denver, CO. 3-6
Saturday March 20th

Marie @ Health Shoppe in Morristown, NJ 11-2
Aandi @ Whole Foods Hinsdale in Chicago, IL 11-2
Ciera @ Whole Foods Sugar House in Salt Lake City, UT 11-2
Lisa @ North Coast Co-Op in Arcata, CA 11-2
Rachel @ Metropolitan Market Queen Anne in Seattle, WA 11-2
Larry @ Whole Foods Park Lane (Brand New Store!) in Dallas, TX 3-7
Lisa @ Eureka Co-Op in Eureka, CA 3-6
Sunday March 21st

Kathy @ Whole Foods La Jolla in San Diego, CA 2-5
Tuesday March 23rd

Christine @ Whole Foods Union Square in New York 12-3

Saturday March 27th

Ernie @ Return to Eden in Atlanta, GA 11-2:30
Shelly @ Gluten Free Fair at Whole Foods Petaluma 11-2
Larry @ Market Street in Plano, TX from 11-2
Nicole @ Fresh and Natural Shore View in Minneapolis, MN 11-2
Shelagh @ Hy-Vee Market in Olathe, KS 11-2
Priya @ Spring Fling Tasting Fair Whole Foods Capitola in CA 11-2
David @ Whole Foods Lamar in Austin, TX 11-2
Steve @ Zupan’s on Belmont in Portland, OR 11-2
Nicole @ La Montanita Co-Op in Santa Fe, NM 12-3
Ernie @ Whole Foods West Paces Ferry in Atlanta, GA 3-6:30
Shelagh @ Whole Foods Overland Park in Overland Park, KS 3-6
Ciera @ Whole Foods Fourth South in Salt Lake City, UT 3-6

~Vince :)

Doug Visits our Agave Farm (Part 1)

Recently at Coconut Bliss, we have been receiving a lot of inquiries from Bliss lovers about agave. There has been a flurry of information coming out on the Internet that challenges its status as a healthy alternative to other sugars.

At Coconut Bliss, we pride ourselves on integrity and honesty, sourcing only the purest and highest quality ingredients. Our own research into agave has culminated just this past week in having our General Manager, Doug Furlong, visit Jalisco, Mexico to personally inspect our agave producer's fields and facilities. This first article will talk about the general parts of how our agave is processed. Future articles in this series will go into detail about this unique plant and food source, and the history that surrounds it...

This is part one of a travel journal from our General Manager, Doug Furlong; he visited the source of our agave nectar in Jalisco, Mexico. The blog post has been moved to our new blog and website here: