Aztec tribe inspires Nelson drink

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 20/12/2012
Chloe Van Dyke, Ben   Van Dyke, Dean McCashin, Emma McCashin, Mark A’Court and Miranda Wood-Van Dyke
MARTIN de RUYTER/Fairfax NZ

CHEERS: Chloe Van Dyke surrounded by the people who helped bring her Chia drink to reality [from left] Ben Van Dyke,Dean McCashin, Emma McCashin, Mark A’Court and Miranda Wood-Van Dyke at the McCashin’s bottling plant in Stoke.

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A health drink adapted from the staple of a South American tribe famous for their long-distance running has been launched in Nelson.

On Monday the new drink brand Chia was officially launched, sold by father and daughter Ben and Chloe Van Dyke.

The drink is made from hydrated chia seed, blended with flavours including blueberry, blackcurrant and passionfruit, and bottled at McCashin's Brewery in Stoke.

Ms Van Dyke, who studied neuroscience at university and now runs her own herbal health practice, said the idea to create the drink came when they were looking for a nutrient-rich drink to have after exercise. The family came across chia seeds, which were used by some runners at the time.

Chia seeds are famously used by the Tarahumara Indians, direct descendants of the Aztec, who are renowned for their long-distance running ability.

The Tarahumara, who live in northwestern Mexico, were made famous in the book Born to Run, which focuses on long-distance running.

Mr Van Dyke said the tribe's athleticism was amazing.

"We all think that sport is new, but chia seeds were their staple, they would run 100 miles in the hot, dry country."

Ms Van Dyke said chia seeds were one of the richest plant sources of omega 3, protein, antioxidants, antacids, magnesium and fibre. They were also full of naturally-occurring electrolytes.

"It's not just nutrient-rich, but it's rich in the properties that we need, and things we all lack in our diet."

The drink was not just for athletes, it was also for people working in an office, she said.

Once they had started adding blueberry and blackcurrant, and the drink started tasting good - "as opposed to something we would put on our breakfast cereal" - the family realised it was something they wanted to share.

Ms Van Dyke had been around superfoods before, but this was the first product that stood out.

The public was becoming more aware of what they were putting into their bodies, she said. "People are wanting good foods rather than things with artificial colours or flavours."

The drink would be stocked in physiotherapy practices, gyms, cafes, health food stores and supermarkets.

"Nelson has been so supportive, it's really wonderful to be starting a business here," she said.

The seeds are grown in Australia, although the family are trialling growing their own organic seeds in New Zealand.

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- The Nelson Mail

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