Tropical Traditions was founded in 2002 by Brian Shilhavy. The business name was changed to Healthy Traditions in 2017.
Brian W. Shilhavy, BA, MA
Brian earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible/Greek from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and his Master of Arts degree in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He is currently the CEO of Tropical Traditions, Inc., and the Editor of Health Impact News.
In 1998 Brian returned to the Philippines with his Filipino wife and their three children and renovated his wife's old family farmhouse. By this time the coconut industry was severely depressed due to the negative U.S. campaigns against tropical oils in the 1980s and 1990s. Coconut farmers could no longer support their families on the income generated from harvesting coconuts.
How We Started the Coconut Oil Revolution
Brian learned much about the way the older Filipino generation approached health, using native herbs and fruits to deal with common illnesses. One thing that intrigued Brian was that the older generation was very active, often still farming, and yet their only dietary oil was coconut oil, often hand made the traditional way.
This led Brian to investigate the whole issue of fats and oils. He soon discovered that coconut oil had a long tradition of being a healthy oil and that it was wrongly accused of being bad in western countries simply because it was saturated fat. Politics were the main reason coconut oil fell out of favor in western countries like the U.S. - not science.
So they started making it themselves using the traditional method the older generation used. Brian put these products up on the Internet in 2000, thinking that the Philippine herbs would be their most popular product line. Before long, however, demand for the traditional method of making coconut oil by hand overwhelmed them. The coconut oil revolution had begun.
The Healthy Traditions Line of Foods and Healthy Products
Later, when Brian's family was forced to leave the Philippines, they had to adapt their eating and lifestyle from living in a rural agricultural area of the Philippines, where they had access to a local public market and fresh farm goods produced in their community and the areas surrounding it, to buying food on the shelves of stores where they had little or no knowledge of those who produced the food. As they settled back into life in the United States, Brian sought out healthy food sources that he felt we could trust to meet the nutritional and health needs of his family.
Finding good food sources and healthy products is an ongoing endeavor, and the products sold through Healthy Traditions are the products Brian has trusted to meet the needs of his own family. He won't sell you products that he wouldn't use personally or give to his own children.
With meats and dairy products, for example, it is not enough to simply be "organic." He believes that animals raised on pasture are preferable to animals in feedlots eating organic grains and organic soy, and so he gives preference to animals raised on grass and sunshine, and farmers practicing sustainable agriculture.
At the end of 2014, the company started testing their products for the presence of GMOs and the herbicide glyphosate. (See: ALERT: Certified Organic Food Grown in U.S. Found Contaminated with Glyphosate Herbicide)
How are Products Chosen for Healthy Traditions?
We have a strong commitment to family farming and organic standards. We stand firmly against genetically modified foods (No GMOs). But the organic label is not enough for us. We research and find out where the products are produced, and how they are produced. We find that some organic standards too loose for our trust, so we look beyond what is claimed on a label. We find out as much as possible about those who provide the products. And if a certain quality of a product does not exist, we will work with others to produce that product and offer it to our consumers. We did that with Virgin Coconut Oil in the Philippines, and we have done the same thing since coming back to live here in the US.
One of those is our Pastured Poultry chickens raised on Cocofeed. When we began looking for a good source of chicken raised on pasture, we found that all the organic chickens available to us were fed a high concentration of soybeans, and this concerned us. So after two years of research, we finally came up with an organic feed that was soy-free and utilized the coconut pulp that was left over after the coconut oil was extracted from it. In May 2006 we introduced these chickens to our customers, and the following year we also raised turkeys on this feed which are now also available.
Then in 2008, we were asked to provide some of our Cocofeed to a study being done at Ohio State University as it was the only soy-free chicken feed available to be used in a study that showed soy protein was passed into the yolks of eggs from chickens fed high concentrations of soy. We found out that egg-laying chickens fed our Cocofeed had the soy protein in their egg yolks disappear within 10 days of being on our feed. So we worked with farmers in Wisconsin to raise egg-laying chickens on our Cocofeed, and in 2010 we began offering soy-free organic eggs to our consumers as well.
We want you to feel safe when shopping in our online store, so we have a commitment to you to not sell anything that is harmful to the best of our knowledge. All of our foods are either certified organic or meet quality standards that are equal to or higher than organic certification. This includes no tolerance for GMOs, and we test all of our foods for glyphosate. This is quite different from most health food stores, where you have to be "on your guard" as most of them offer conventional products right alongside organic products because they want to offer a full selection of products to compete with regular grocery stores. We would rather offer fewer products and stick to our high standards so that you can feel safe when shopping here.
Fats and Oils
We believe strongly that there is much confusion in the area of fats and oils in the US today. We believe that there is too much soy in the American diet (soy was not a major component of our diet prior to World War II), so we do our best to make sure that soy is not an ingredient in any of the products that we sell (other than fermented soy sauce as a seasoning). We also believe that there are too many polyunsaturated refined oils in the American diet and as a result an overabundance of the Omega 6 fatty acids in our food today. We believe the traditional fats and oils that have been consumed in traditional cultures for hundreds if not thousands of years are still the healthiest fats and oils available to us today, including coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, black cumin seed oil, and butter from the milk of pastured animals.
What's Ahead?When Abraham Lincoln served as president of the United States in 1862, about 48 percent of the people living in the U.S. were farmers. Today, that figure is less than 1%. Along with the age of industrialization and technology we have, by and large, lost many of our community family farms and, with that loss, also the loss of many traditional farming skills. Few would argue that our food sources here in the U.S. have suffered as a result, as a consumer-driven economy seeks to support its lifestyle of ease and comfort with cheap foods produced by fewer people providing the labor back on the farms.
But there are new market trends and demands from consumers who are now placing greater value on traditional skills, and healthier food produced "the old fashioned way." The 21st century sees a whole generation of "baby boomers" heading into their senior years, with complex health problems that did not plague their parents' and grandparents' generations, in spite of all the "medical advances" the 21st century brings us. Traditional ways of producing food are coming back into the spotlight, as some are questioning whether those responsible for filling the shelves of our grocery stores and supermarkets truly have our best interest in mind, or represent our core values.
Healthy Traditions is constantly adding more products to offer its customers as we move forward and find people producing products that meet our high standards. We are already working with farmers and drop shipping products directly to your home from the farm, and we will continue that trend. In time, we also hope to set up regional centers where you can pick up local food produced close to your community. In early 2006 we launched our Healthy Buyer's Club that allows individuals and families to purchase bulk retail products for significant savings. Join us today as we seek to restore traditional ways of producing healthy food and healthy products!
Tropical Traditions, Inc. - Healthy Traditions DBA