Harumitsu Ando and his wife Kiko, the owners of ‘Cultu-Rice’, a food company specializing in traditional, Japanese fermented foods believe deeply that food is a medicine that we have been gifted, to nourish and heal our bodies every day. Holding this strong belief, Haru and Kiko have spent the last several years perfecting the art of preparing traditional Japanese fermented foods and became eager to share their healthy and delicious products with the people of Vancouver Island after they moved here with their young family in 2017.
Haru was a medical doctor in Japan for 15 years specializing in intestinal health, and Kiko was a pharmacist. While both working in the health care field, they realized the limitations of modern medicine especially when dealing with chronic illness as well as with one of their children’s severe sensitivity and allergy to multiple food items. Prior to moving to Cowichan, Haru and Kiko lived a self-sufficient life where they learned how to grow and make their own food; Haru was seeing more and more evidence of the medicinal properties of food from a doctor’s perspective and, in particular, the healing powers of fermented food, not only for gastrointestinal health but for overall wellness (brain, skin, anti-aging and so on).
This led to the birth of ‘Cultu-Rice’, which was established in March 2018 soon after their move to Canada. Koji is a beneficial microorganism that is a central part of traditional Japanese food culture. It is a key ingredient in making various fermented foods, such as miso, soy source, rice vinegar and sake and is the primary ingredient in their ‘Cultu-Rice’ products. One of their most popular products is ‘Koji-dip’, a probiotic rice dip that is vegan, gluten-free and nut free with a strong umami flavour. They also make a mouth-watering ‘Koji Truffle’, a probiotic, raw truffle (vegan, gluten-free and nut free), available in matcha, chocolate, and strawberry flavours.
You can find Haru and Kiko’s products in markets and shops throughout Vancouver island as well as online through the Cow-op.ca farmers’ market (www.cow-op.ca) for Duncan and Victoria customers.
Jess van den Broek is a Horticulturist and Hobby-farmer in Shawnigan Lake. She is currently working as an intern at the Cowichan Green Community and Cow-op.ca online farmers' market.