About Time You Met: Lucy BeeBy Alicia Grimshaw
Coconut products are flying off the shelves at the moment. Lucy Bee is the lady behind the Lucy Bee range – a coconut oil that not only uses the best possible coconuts out there, it’s also certified Fair Trade. We discuss cooking, health benefits and gluten-free brekkies:
What made you set up Lucy Bee and why did you decide on creating coconut oil?
As a family we were always lovers of good food, using meals times as the perfect opportunity to sit around a table together, the kitchen has always been at the heart of our home. When I was diagnosed as coeliac aged just 18 months my parents interest in good food was magnified, with an heightened awareness of the impact it can have on the body. At the time of my diagnosis pre-prepared gluten free foods were incredibly hard to find. As a result, the majority of our meals and snacks had to be made from scratch.
In 2007, knowing our interest in eating close to nature’s source, a family friend sent us a bottle of coconut oil and the book ‘The Coconut Oil Miracle’ by Bruce Fife. After reading Bruce’s book we soon realised it was the missing piece to the puzzle, finally a healthy oil for cooking. There wasn’t however, a quality coconut oil which was ethically produced available at an affordable price in the UK, so we began to explore ethical sources of high quality and unrefined products.
What makes Lucy Bee different to other coconut products on the market?
Lucy Bee is a raw, organic, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil. There is a significant difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil, whilst we are proud to be unrefined.
Refined coconut oil makes up a staggering 90% of the market, it is heavily refined to make it fit for human consumption. The oil is taken from dried copra, this is then turned into crude coconut oil. Often by the time the copra reached the large scale industrial oil-seed mill it is rancid and mouldy. The oil is brown in colour so bleached white and deodorized before being sold.
By comparison our oil is extracted from the flesh of fresh, mature coconuts within 1-4 hours of the coconut being opened, it is naturally white in colour with a distinctly coconutty aroma and being organic, our ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. We firmly believe in organic farming and in eating foods as close to nature as possible.
Coupled with this, we firmly believe in giving back to those communities which produce our coconut oil and this is why our coconut oil is certified Fair Trade. Ours is an ethically sourced, premium quality oil brought to the market at an affordable price. We insist on using recyclable glass jars for our coconut oil, with easy peel labels, making them easier to reuse.
All of your products are certified Fair Trade – how important is this ethos for your business?
Ethical and Fair Trade production runs through the veins of the business, we are proud that our coconut oil, superfoods and spices are Fair Trade Certified products. To be Fair Trade Certificed there is an additional 10% cost to the business, but we can be confident that of this 70% is used for higher wages for our producers and 30% for sustainable community projects. We also pay 0.75% of our turnover to our Fair Trade certifier, Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA) to help fund their work.
Since launching, our Fair Trade premium has helped projects across the globe including in the Philippines we have paid for two wells to bring clean fresh water to rural villages (this has saved the women walking two miles to fetch water), we have also been able buy solar light bulbs for the villagers and funded scholarships for education.
In the Soloman Islands we have helped fund everyday essentials including medicine and education as well as fund solar light bulbs to replace dangerous kerosene lamps.
We work closely with our producers in the Dominican Republic who employ abandoned single mothers helping them to support their children.
We also operate a Charity at no Cost scheme, donating any commission from Amazon sales to The Little Blossoms Project, which is a volunteer foundation set up in the UK to support The Tilinanu Orphanage.
As a result I am incredibly proud to say, when buying Lucy Bee you’re not only changing your lifestyle into a healthier one through a premium product, but having a positive impact on the life of those less fortunate than us, across the globe.
What’s your favourite way to cook with coconut oil?
Tough one and I get asked this a lot! I use it all the time, from my eggs at breakfast to salt and pepper squid at lunch to removing my waterproof mascara before bed, I am forever dipping into a jar!
The Chicken Fattee found in my book (Nature’s Perfect Ingredient) is a favourite of mine, it was actually my dad’s specialty when we were growing up. He is a little more patient that I am in the kitchen so this is a simplified version, it’s a tasty and sociable dish – perfect for when you have friends over!
What’s the best way to use coconut oil, to receive the best benefits?
There are so many uses for Lucy Bee, the versatility is one of it’s greatest qualities. For those new to cooking with coconut oil, to start keep it simple, where you would cook with a traditional oil simply replace with Lucy Bee – remember a little goes a long way so use sparingly.
A handy tip when you’re feeling a little more adventurous – when baking, replace butter with coconut oil, you only need three quarters of the quantity stated in the recipe, using coconut oil also means cutting down sugar in recipes by about a third – maybe you can have your cake and eat it after all!
A lot of your family is involved in Lucy Bee – has this helped your business journey?
It is totally a family business. My parents set the company up and my dad looks after the business side of things while I’m heavily involved in the social media side of things. There you can chat to me along with my good friends Meg and Hannah. My sister and brother both help out when they’re on holiday from their uni courses, so we all pitch in!
When we started to look at new products to introduce, it was a case of looking in our own store cupboards and seeing what were our essentials, rather than market research. The new product releases include; Cacao, Lucuma, Cinnamon, Maca, Turmeric and a range of salts, Epsom, Dead Sea and Himalayan.
Like Lucy Bee Coconut Oil, each of the superfood products and spices have been ethically sourced and are Fair Trade, meaning that not only are they of the highest quality, we are also putting back into the communities across the globe we are working with.
Eating well should be enjoyed and not seen as a punishment. The new ingredients have long been a part of my recipes, allowing me to eat healthily and sociably even when there is limited time.
London’s best gluten-free breakfast is:
I don’t actually have breakfast out that often, but, if I do, I like to go to Caravan at Kings Cross
Lucy Bee Raw Organic Coconut Oil is available in Sainsbury’s nationwide, the superfood range including; Cacao, Lucuma, Cinnamon, Maca, Turmeric and a range of salts, Epsom, Dead Sea and Himalayan is available now at www.lakeland.co.uk
Photo Credit: David Bebber