The founders of Tropical Traditions are Brian and Marianita Shilhavy.
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.
Marianita Jader Shilhavy, BS, CND (Certified Nutritionist/Dietician in the Philippines) earned her bachelor of science degree in nutrition in Manila. Understanding the nutrition of Filipino foods, Marianita worked for over eight years as a hospital dietician and nutritional counselor in the Philippines.
In 1998 Brian and Marianita returned to the Philippines with their three children and renovated Marianita'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
Our family moved to the Philippines in 1998. We renovated Marianita's old family farm house up on Mt. Banahaw, in a rural farming community. We learned much about the way Marianita's parent's generation approached health, using native herbs and fruits to deal with common illnesses. One thing that intrigued me 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 me to investigate the whole issue of fats and oils. I 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 a saturated fat. Politics were the main reason coconut oil fell out of favor in western countries like the U.S. - not science. So we started making it ourselves using the traditional method her parent's generation used. We put these products up on the Internet in 2000, thinking that the Philippine herbs would be our most popular product line. Before long, however, demand for our traditional method of making coconut oil by hand overwhelmed us. The coconut oil revolution had begun. Read more here.
Do you know the source of the food you purchase?
Later, when our family was forced to leave the Philippines, we had to adapt our eating and lifestyle from living in a rural agricultural area of the Philippines, where we had access to a local public market and fresh farm goods produced in our community and the areas surrounding it, to buying food on the shelves of stores where we had little or no knowledge of those who produced the food. As we settled back into life in the United States, I sought out healthy food sources that I felt we could trust to meet the nutritional and health needs of our family.
Finding good food sources and healthy products is an ongoing endeavor, and the products sold through Tropical Traditions are the products I have trusted to meet the needs of my own family. I won't sell you products that I won't use personally or give to my own children. With meats and dairy products, it is not enough to simply be "organic." We believe that animals raised on pasture are preferable to animals in feed lots eating organic grains and organic soy, and so we give preference to animals raised on grass and sunshine, and farmers practicing sustainable agriculture.
How are Products Chosen for Tropical 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 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 GMOs. 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, sesame oil, and butter from the milk of pastured animals.
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.
Tropical 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 setup 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 a significant savings. Join us today as we seek to restore traditional ways of producing healthy food and healthy products!
Brian & Marianita Shilhavy
Tropical Traditions, Inc.
Peace With God
I have been shopping with Tropical Traditions now for around 8 years. When the good news about virgin coconut oil was just beginning to be written about - and was still unheard of in natural foods retail stores - I did a search to find out more about it and where I might buy it. That search brought me the good fortune of finding Tropical Traditions and I have been shopping here ever since. We consumers can buy lots of things from lots of places these days. But you never really know what kind of company you are dealing with until you try their products and their customer service - both equally important! Tropical Traditions appears to be a principles driven company that cares about all stages of bringing the products they source and sell to market. They work directly with small family farmers in the Philippines and other places, thereby assuring both a specific quality of product as well as the fair compensation of the producers of that product. And for their customers they find inventive ways to keep prices down by offering regular sales as well as offering a buying club that one can use any time to get below sale prices by buying in bulk. Through 8 years of shopping with TT, I have now had occasion to try many of their products. Being a person that thoroughly researches the ingredients and processing of food items before I buy them, I can only say that TT always meets or exceeds my very picky standards! - both in that way as well as my enjoyment of them when eating them. They are really delicious!! I guess you can tell by now that I am a loyal customer, and plan to be so into the future! I hope you will give Tropical Traditions a try as your source for very high quality and delicious whole and natural foods. If your experience is anything like mine, you will be very glad you did!! Keep up the awesome work TT - and thanks for being there for all of us!! Lynne - Boulder, CO
I have been shopping through Tropical Traditions since Jan. 2005 and have found them to be an outstanding company in every aspect of their business. They are prompt to respond to questions or to rectify any errors and it is always done with respect and kindness. Their products are excellent and I am able to purchase many of the same organic products at a better price than I can purchase them at the store, and I save the time and money of driving to the store. They also offer excellent products of their own that can't be purchased locally. I promise you will not be disappointed. They are tops in my book! Shirley - Delaware, OH