Across from the Costa Rican Yoga Spa on the north-bound road to Ostional, a Rasta-colored wooden gate leads to a one-story house surrounded by potted plants and labeled crops. Piles of coconuts decorate the front yard along with “Niceness” signs leading the way to Franklyn Alleth’s superfood mecca.
After removing their shoes – an act of consciousness to maintain cleanliness-guests wander inside where rows and rows of fanatically organized curious substances in jars greet them. A few are recognizable such as dried mango or cacao powder, but many resemble science experiments like the spirulina-coated dried coconut. Nods to Franklyn’s roots on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and upbringing in Brooklyn, New York decorate the walls.
Franklyn gives the group of smiling faces samples of one of his signature superfood concoctions – date, dried cacao bean and turmeric-covered dried coconut rolled up in a piece of dried pineapple. Layers of bold flavors explode, followed by a natural energy boost. The group’s obvious enjoyment causes a gigantic smile across Franklyn’s face followed by a fit of joyful laughter.
Franklyn’s boundless energy and youthful appearance (he’s in his 40’s, but looks 30) is his proof that superfoods are indeed special. After decades of high-stress design and construction work for Marriott in the United States and United Arab Emirates, Franklyn’s health suffered. His digestive system wasn’t functioning properly and his energy levels had flat-lined, which began to erode his attitude and spirit. Friends turned him on to David Wolfe, the “godfather of superfoods,” and after reading Wolfe’s book, Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, Franklyn changed his diet. Now he eats 100% organic, vegan and sticks to a raw diet half of the time.
“I was a sick guy. Everything was wrong. I started doing superfoods and everything changed – even my mind. Superfoods put you in a elevated state and encourage you to be conscious of everything,” he affirmed.
For a while, Franklyn helped with his family’s dehydrated fruit business and realized that growing, harvesting and transforming food was in his blood. He already knew how to perform complex processes used in superfood preparation so when his creativity kicked in, things started happening. Food alchemy seems to run in the family – it was Franklyn’s seven-year-old son who discovered that the sponge caused by fermentation inside coconuts could be dehydrated and eaten as a tasty and protein-packed treat. Franklyn serves it with cacao spread that gives Nutella a run for its money.
Now with 100 organic products lining his shelves – 20 derived from coconut – and 300 regular customers, Franklyn could be proclaimed Guanacaste’s reigning superfood king. Nosara’s health and wellness scene is the perfect place to spread his superfood message.
In fact, the Pacha Mama community in San Juanillo is Franklyn’s first and largest supporter since he unintentionally began his business in this location three years ago.When Franklyn came to Nosara eight years prior, he sold coconut and its oil on the beach for a couple of months until police shut down beach commerce. In that short time, he established a large customer base and moved around the area, meeting the demand for his products. After moving to his current location, a friend from Pacha Mama stopped by and tasted his rolled pineapple concoction. He was blown away and placed a huge order. People have been coming for his superfood masterpieces daily ever since.
What are superfoods?
The term “superfood” has sparked debate about the food industry’s marketing ploys and nutritional claims. In 2007, the European Union actually banned the word superfood from all food labels because it was being used without medical and scientific proof. The Macmillan Dictionary defines a superfood as “a food that is considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions”.
While there is no legal or scientific definition for the term, enthusiasts believe that superfoods have high amounts of anti-oxidants, vitamins and other nutritional value that cure physical ailments. Franklyn claims they “build your immune system, better your metabolism, improve digestion and are [full of] antioxidants. I get a backache, I use turmeric. This is the medicine of now and of the future.”
According to Franklyn, the main superfoods are: spirulina, cacao, coconut, turmeric, avocado, chia seeds, noni, aloe vera, goji berries, soursop, hemp, kale and honey. Macuna is the latest superfood endorsed by David Wolfe, and Franklyn has already given it his own stamp of approval.
Franklyn grows soursop, noni, coconut, turmeric, cacao, avocado and aloe vera on his property – all organic (without any chemicals or pesticides). For everything else, he uses only local, organic sources and will pay above market prices for quality products to encourage producers to continue. He sends his truck to his cousin’s organic coconut farm on the Caribbean side when he needs more than Guanacaste can offer. “It’s important to support Costa Rican growers to spread superfoods. Superfoods are expensive and sometimes they don’t taste good, but it’s worth it,” he said.
That is why Franklyn is planning to expand his superfood empire to include his own organic farm in the Costa Rican mountains. When asked where exactly it will be, a lengthy, heartfelt cackle is his only reply.