Sustainable Boost opens retail location in Wailua

  • Laurel Smith/The Garden Island

    Sustainable Boost owner Lourdes Torres holds up an ulu (breadfruit) in front of the Sustainable Boost retail store which opened for business on Friday.

  • Laurel Smith/The Garden Island

    Sustainable Boost hosted an ulu (breadfruit) pancake breakfast Friday at their Wailua storefront to launch the start of their retail business.

WAILUA — Shoppers at the Kinipopo Shopping Center in Wailua enjoyed a different kind of pancake on Friday, ones which, while they had the appearance of a traditional pancake, had a pleasant potato-like flavor and a pudding-like texture on the inside.

This was part of Sustainable Boost’s ulu (breadfruit) pancake breakfast being held in celebration of the opening of its new retail space.

Sustainable Boost manufactures and sells flours and powders made from locally grown ingredients including taro, green banana and even farm-raised crickets. Prior to Friday, products were only available locally to wholesale customers and at farmers markets.

After several years of struggles, the retail launch was a huge milestone for owner Lourdes Torres.

Torres tried to launch the retail store five years ago, but a water leak destroyed much of her product costing the company tens of thousands of dollars and making the planned storefront unfeasible, according to Torres.

With no storefront, Torres pivoted to selling wholesale, at farmers markets and food expos on O‘ahu. In 2018, record flooding took out 70% of Sustainable Boost’s cricket population. And, when COVID restrictions shut down farmers markets in 2020, “that was almost the final nail in the coffin,” said Torres.

“To be standing here today, after all the blows that I’ve had, is an amazing moment,” she said.

Torres has big dreams of a more sustainable future on Kaua‘i.

“We want to save the food that is rotting out there, turn it into shelf-stable food so that we can enjoy it all year round in an affordable way that is nutritionally dense,” Torres said.

Sustainable Boost is on a mission to help people get over the “ick” factor when it comes to eating crickets.

“They are not akin to famine. They’re a viable source of nutrition and easy to farm,” Torres said. “It’s our dream for every family to have a little (cricket) farming kit on their countertops.”

Cooking with Sustainable Boost’s alternative flours requires some creativity. Michael Sterioff is the owner of Passion Bakery Café and does research and development for Sustainable Boost products.

“It’s very complicated to work with because it’s just not wheat,” Sterioff said. “(Without gluten), you have to process it completely differently. You have to think differently, you’ve got to hydrate differently it’s a lot of trial and error.”

For Sterioff there are big benefits to baking with these alternative flours.

“Each one has its unique flavors. Ulu is not far off from a potato in flavor. It’s a little more earthy and it has a definite different aroma than you would have with any other flours,” said Sterioff. “Taro is absolutely different than (traditional flours). First, they just have a lot of nutrition. And secondly, the differences in colors (enhance) your baking process.”

These non-traditional flours and powders have gotten the attention of more than just bakers.

According to Kaua‘i Athletic Club owner Josh Nations, cricket powder is a popular protein supplement for the CrossFit and bodybuilding community.

“It’s a really perfect form of protein. When you’re eating cricket protein, most of that is protein, not cholesterol and all that other stuff that’s in meat and dairy,” said Nations. “Anyone who’s looking for quality protein, I think is going to be drawn to crickets once they learn a bit more about it.”

Sustainable Boost is located at Kinipopo Shopping Center, 4-356 Kuhio Highway, Suite 117.

1 Comments
  1. Kali Yuga October 27, 2021 6:57 pm Reply

    Cricket farming is unnecessary. We don’t need to consume animals for sustenance.


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