By: Kristina Vitullo

Word on the street is being healthy is “in,” being healthy is cool, and go figure – being healthy is good for you! So as you embark on your health journey or continue down your tried & true path, who better to bestow some knowledge on you than a buyer from a staple health food store in the heart of Manhattan? Diana, the do it all lady with swag & insight, hailing from your local store, East Village Organic, talks tamarind to us & so much more.

Who is Diana & why should we listen to what she has to say?

My name is Diana and I’m the buyer, bookkeeper and staff manager at East Village Organic. Up until two years ago I was a baker who taught cooking classes and made birthday cakes every day, but the sugar and gluten and dairy was taking a toll. One day, in the rain, I ran, dramatically, to my fave health food store and begged my fave dude for a cashier job. I thought I just needed a break. My fave dude is Ali Fardos. He and his wife Amina opened EVO three years ago and are lowkey my best friends now. I’ve never had the opportunity to work for better humans. This ‘break’ has lasted two years and I’m not going anywhere.

Why is East Village Organic a neighborhood staple?

East Village Organic is not your typical grocery store. It's a health food store for people who know that your diet is the biggest part of your health. We sell 100% Organic produce and use all of that to make house salads, soups, smoothies, juices and a lot more. The whole neighborhood is addicted to Amina’s handmade spinach pies and stuffed grape leaves.

Talk to us about East Village Organic & your role there.

As the buyer at EVO I get to interact with a lot of brand reps and owners which I really love to do. Probably the most rewarding part of the job is working with very very small businesses. I'll never forget one creator, we were the first store to carry his product, Beauty Steep and there's a real thankfulness that spills out of someone when you take a chance on their creation. He was in Forbes last month.

What trends are you seeing in the health food & functional beverage space?

I think a new trend probably hits every six months or so. Right now we’re doing collagen. We’re juicing celery. We’re taking CBD and we’re gobbling up as much turmeric as we possibly can. People will try anything if it promises results, and if it really works for them, maybe they stick to it.

Sometimes I look back and remember when vegan and gluten-free diets had a trend aspect to them. I actually think it’s the bigger, lifestyle changing trends like these that stick and become part of the culture, while the smaller packaged cures fade away.

Of everything going on right now, I see turmeric having the most staying power but only if enough people realize that it does need to be a lifestyle in order to work. You’ve got to take the pills, eat it, drink it, cook with it, bathe in it, and make it a part of your every day.

What are the main questions you get asked by consumers?

People ask me a lot if something is ‘healthy’. Which is rough. Because what’s healthy for me isn’t healthy for someone else. People are anemic and diabetic and gluten intolerant and suffer from IBS.

So I ask them to narrow it down for me. Are you looking for low sugar? High fiber? Low inflammatory? Nutrient dense? They usually look stunned for a second, but then they catch themselves and realize that they have some more digging to do.

Why has tamarind become an up & coming superfood?

 I think Tamarind is delicious, and it's always been a popular food in a lot of cuisines. I think it originated in Africa but it has been grown in India so long people often think that's where it's from.

On it's own its a great source of Vitamin B and C and it's high in a lot of different minerals. WebMD even lists it as a remedy for morning sickness and a means of purging intestinal worms from children. Even the leaves can be steeped like a tea to soothe menstrual cramps.

I don’t have to explain to anyone that the mainstream takes what it wants, when it wants it. I can say though, that I am happy to see how many of the products using tamarind on the market right now are attempting to stay loyal to tamarind’s culture and traditional preparations.

Tell us more about tamarind & what it does for your pineal gland.

Alright I'm about to tell you a bit of a wacky story. When I go trolling the internet for info, I'm careful. I don't accept things as fact right away, but I do take notice of trends. I don't want to link sources, because to do that implies that I believe what I’m saying is fact. When in reality, I can only believe that it is believed.

I've noticed that there is a huge community, let's call them 'woke', shunning fluoridated water. Their main cause for concern is their pineal gland (located behind the third eye chakra) which can become calcified or clogged with fluoride and other toxins typical to city living. This can lead to symptoms that manifest physically, emotionally and spiritually. That's a triple threat right there.

There is some evidence, (several studies published on PubMed among other sources) that all basically say the same thing; the urine samples of groups given tamarind test higher in fluoride than the urine samples of the control groups who were given no tamarind. From this, people are able to infer that tamarind helps your body’s elimination organs flush out fluoride.

Will tamarind graduate from being a trendy ingredient to a cultural norm?

I think Tamarind, at its worst, is a nutrient dense food with a reputation for detoxification that's older than time.  At it's best it's going to help me ascend to the astral plane.

All kidding aside, we live in a truly toxic time. It builds up on our skin and in our organs. To find products that let us cleanse is the only hope we have. Maybe Tamarind will be a trend but if enough people believe in it, it might just join the ranks of Milk Thistle and Dandelion and Turmeric, helping us cope with the residue that modern life leaves behind.

Like most things in life, trends can be fleeting but the reason some become a part of your lifestyle is a result of personal impact & value. Learn from what your body is telling you, do your research, and apply what’s relevant. We’re lucky enough to live in a time where while you can’t believe everything you read, you can find 10+ articles that allow deductive reasoning and common sense provide an educated decision! Oh & tamarind, you go girl.

Want to know what brands you can find at EVO? Check out these favorites that have Diana and customers of EVO excited! Raw fermented hot sauce (Ouch!), coconut yogurt (because everything coconut), lemonade (spring has sprung, soon I hope), & don’t forget JAKA JAMU (it’s not a juice, it’s a tonic).

Diana Lotesto

Diana Lotesto

East Village Organic

East Village Organic

Ali & Amina Fardos

Ali & Amina Fardos

Some fine print:

*I haven’t been paid to highlight some of these rocking brands!

**No tamarind was consumed during this interview.

***It’s likely that I’m having tamarind as I post this because, JAKA JAMU!