The Great Eastern Sun Story
This fall of 2014 will mark the thirty fifth anniversary of Great Eastern Sun's founding as an importer and manufacturer of natural and organic food. We take this occasion to remember our history as a company, to restate our philosophy and purpose for being, and to unfold our plans for the years to come.
Great Eastern Sun is a Buddhist term for the rising sun of the new dawn of mankind's future enlightenment. In this new age, nations will cease to exist as every human being realizes the oneness of all creation. Peace and harmony will rule the planet. Since we intended then, as we do still now, to contribute, to the best of our abilities, to the encouragement of international understanding through the promotion of international trade, we felt that this name expressed well the large vision of this very small company.
Another important source of inspiration for us has been the Macrobiotic way of life as propounded here in America by many great teachers, most prominently by Michio and Aveline Kushi. As early supporters of the World Federalist movement that arose in many areas in response to the devastation of World War II, the Kushis have always sought to use their dietary philosophy not only to cure sickness, but also as a tool with which to encourage planetary integration.
In our idyllic mountain valley just off the Blue Ridge Parkway here in Asheville, we are far enough removed from the stresses of urban life to contemplate how we can best make our own modest contribution to this great work. Poised at the gateway to the Great Smokies National Park only 20 miles from Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Asheville is at the center of one of the most sparsely populated regions on the East Coast. Home of the Biltmore House, the Grove Park Inn, and the Montford Historic District, our home town combines memories of a more gracious bygone era with an especially vigorous new age community. Its breezy climate, moderated by the altitude in the summer and by its southern latitude in the winter, has contributed to making Asheville one of the premier resort areas in the whole U.S.
In recent years, Asheville has also been recognized as the major center in the Eastern US of the locations of focused spiritual power, the vortices. A vortex is a giant magnet of energy - positively and negatively charged - where the energetic lay lines of the earth's force field converge. Similar to Sedona in the western US, Indian tribes established that in this area lay the best sites for special rites and ceremonies. These ancient powers are still potent today, having inspired many a visitor's super spiritual Asheville experience.
Great Eastern Sun originally came into being in 1981 as the sales and distribution arm of the American Miso Company, our sister company 50 miles to the east in Rutherfordton, NC. We remain, as we have been from its inception, the exclusive marketer, under our Miso Master brand, for AMC products. Shortly thereafter, GES began importing many of the Japanese traditional foods that are so vitally important to the Macrobiotic and natural food diet. Items in our Emerald Cove Organic Sea Vegetable line and Emperor's Kitchen Traditional Condiments line still come from Japan. We import most of these products in bulk and bottle or package them into consumer sizes in our production department located in Asheville.
We eventually decided that we needed to widen our perspective by developing other product lines with a broader appeal. Our first venture in this new program was to bring out our Sweet Cloud® Organic Brown Rice Syrup Sweetener, the only traditionally malted grain sweetener available in the natural foods industry today. Shortly thereafter we began to convert premium Japanese tea into our Haiku® Organic Twig (Kukicha), Green (Sencha), and Roasted Green (Hojicha) Teabags, the only 100% Japanese Organic Tea line in the US. After these met with initial success, we next produced One World® Organic English Breakfast and Earl Grey classic English teas in teabags.
Beginning with our introduction of Organic Planet® Asian Pasta in 1999, GES increasingly turned to the center of ancient East Asian civilization, China, as the source of many of our new product offerings. China, far less industrialized and modernized and with far more open arable land than Japan, offered opportunities to develop less chemicalized and less expensive versions of many of our Japanese products. In many instances, we are working with Japanese companies operating in China using Japanese methods and standards to produce goods for the Japanese market. We also gradually came to feel that the high prices of many Japanese traditional foods were inhibiting the popularization of these products in the US. Consumers must be able to afford these foods or they will forever remain obscure, despite their powerful nutritional quality.
Also in 1999, GES therefore began to develop sources in China for several of the items in our Emerald Cove® Sea Vegetable line. First we found Kombu, then Wakame, then Nori in China. As we switched the sourcing of these items from Japan to China, we were able to lower our prices dramatically without sacrificing quality. GES made the most dramatic change of all to our nori by offering Certified Organic Untoasted and Toasted. Certified Organic Nori cannot be produced in Japan because the growers use herbicide on the nets, whereas in China weeding is done by hand labor the old-fashioned way.
China is also the source for our Sushi Sonic® Authentic Wasabi Powder. Our previous product has been, like all other powdered wasabi products in the natural food market and elsewhere, including Japan itself, a concoction of horseradish and spicy mustard. We had always been slightly embarrassed about this product, but we were unsuccessful in our efforts to secure a product with a significant amount of real powdered wasabi. Although our former supplier is the largest wasabi maker in the world, they use all their real wasabi, a difficult-to-cultivate plant, as a fresh product in restaurants in Japan, leaving none to be used in powdered mixtures in Japan or abroad. GES has finally been able to plug up this hole in our product line with an Authentic 100% Real Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) product that will introduce this distinctive flavor profile to America at an affordable price.
Another organic product sourced from China is Organic Whole Shiitake Mushrooms. Our unique personal relationship with this producer, one of the largest and certainly the most ecologically committed producers with which we have ever worked, insures an uninterrupted flow of this product. But it is the medicinal properties of this exotic food that are getting worldwide attention: in the last two decades, scientists have identified substances in shiitakes that may play a role in the cure and prevention of heart disease, cancer, HIV-AIDS, and immune deficiency diseases.
Our newest and most exciting product offer is the first complete line of Certified Organic Ready-to-Eat Traditional Indian Meals. Packaged under the Mother India® brand, these five varieties are fully cooked entrées that bring the exotic taste of India to your own table in minutes. They are all prepared using authentic traditional Indian recipes and offer a variety of spice levels. All varieties are Vegetarian, and two varieties are also Vegan. Our Indian supplier supports over 20,000 small organic farmers over 9 states in India, creating social, environmental, and economic sustainability. That support has been instrumental in the conversion of over 100,000 acres in 9 Indian states from conventional to organic farmland.
GES now has more than 90% of its sales volume certified organic. We are still unable, at this time, to locate certified organic sources for a number of our other items, mainly traditional foods that are produced in such small quantities that certification expenses are difficult for the producers to bear, but we will continue to move as rapidly as possible toward our goal of producing only certified organic products. Great Eastern Sun is committed to combing the four quarters of the globe to bring you the finest organic food this planet has to offer, processed with the care and commitment that you deserve.