Chia Pets

November 23, 2011: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

Only last month I wrote how so many businesses were pushing the sea buckthorn berryas the latest entrant in the superberry-that-will-prolong-your-life category.  But there’s already a new superfood everyone is buzzing about. And chances are you’re all too familiar with it.

Trend forecaster trendcentral says chia seeds (yes, the same seeds that sprout from those kitschy terra-cotta Chia petfigurines) are being added to food and beverages due to their reported “energy boosting” and healing abilities. Yumsugar says chia seeds were heralded centuries ago by the Aztecs and the Mayans; chia, in fact, is the Mayan word for strength.

Chia seeds are loaded with omega-3s and fiber, and are actually part of the mint family. The grains got new attention several years ago when they were touted as the power behind the running stamina of the Tarahumara Indians, the legendary running tribe from Mexico in the New York Times best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage) (affiliate link) by Christopher McDougall.

Several entrepreneurs have launched product lines built around the grain. Inspired by Born to Run, Nick Morris and Dan Gluck, who worked at the same hedge fund in New York, started Health Warrior, which sells raw chia seeds and chia bars.

Janie Hoffman, the founder and CEO of Mamma Chia, was searching for the “ideal diet” when she discovered chia seeds. In typical entrepreneurial fashion, she created recipes in her kitchen that so enthralled her family and friends that she started Mamma Chia in 2009. The company says they’re the first organic, chia-based food and beverage company, and her line of chia fruit beverages is sold in Whole Foods and other food stores.

Sounds like this is one industry that’s sprouting quickly-so it should be easy for you to find room to grow.