The Cracking Monkey Is One of the Few Plastic-Free Food Companies in the World Selling Sprouted Pili Nuts from RomblonMarch 25, 2017
The Cracking Monkey is one of the most empathetic companies we have ever encountered—not a word oft associated with companies yet one truly fitting. Founded by the Lozada family (originally from Colombia) who fell in love with the Philippines via the beaches of Boracay and moved to our shores after having previously lived in Hong Kong and China, The Cracking Monkey is a supportive business model that is thoughtful, compassionate, and innovative in every step of the production process. Though it was in China where the family discovered a strange, tasty nut called the pili nut, with a thick and seemingly impenetrable shell that holds the one of richest known natural sources of vitamin E in the world, it was in the Philippines where they discovered they could build a business that was worthwhile.
The tasty and surprisingly oily nut not only has the highest source of vitamin E amongst nuts, but is also a source for iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A & C, zinc, amino acids, protein and fiber. All that, and it’s darn delicious! Unlike the flat, shrunken, and glazed pili nuts you buy at grocery stores, the Cracking Monkey’s pili nut is raw and sprouted (that means that they soaked it in water to “trick” the nut into thinking it will grow into a plant so that it’s nutrients come out, says Valerie Lozada, who runs the company with her parents), and is much chewier than grocery-bought nuts, with a unique personality that is subtle enough to keep you cracking open more and more. The nuts also boast being gluten-free, vegan (Valerie herself is vegan), non-processed, preservative-free, additive-free, GMO-free, toxic-free and chemical-free. The Cracking Monkey’s product is worlds away that it makes you realize how disconnected we were from what an actual pili nut looks like, which Valerie marvels over for its beauty and strength.
The teardrop-shaped nut that is also loads of fun to eat as the cracking process asks your attention, and you are greeted with a sense of self-satisfaction for every successful crack. The Cracking Monkey offers their healthy, local nuts in several sizes, ranging from a 300g travel-sized bag to a 5kg bag (for those who want to reduce their pili nuts cost and packaging).
The Lozadas proudly exclaim that their company is one of the few factories that produces zero plastic waste, as the nuts are packaged in reusable canvas bags, which are designed with a drawstring so that you can easily reseal them for a use beyond your pili nut holder. The bags are printed with environment friendly soy-based ink (as are the info cards that come attached), and the nuts themselves are also printed with the same ink (on the outer shell), proudly stamped with “Made By Nature in the Philippine Islands,” a subtle reminder that it was “made by a plant, not in a plant.” The shells of the nuts themselves can be composted or used for building a fire for your grill.
Bags also come with stainless steel crackers, shaped like the handle of a spoon, with which you crack open the nuts through one of the three notches drilled into the three sharp corners of the nuts’ casing. When the family asked their engineer (and employee number 1, who is still with them today) how they could open the armor-like exterior of the pili nut, he came to them the next day with a spoon handle in his hand and the nut with carved notches in the other. (The stainless steel crackers that they use are actually produced from recycled steel of old utensils, so they could very well be the remains of a spoon.) They also boast of its multi-use capacity—it can be used as a flat screwdriver, scraper, paint mixer, keychain, or whatever your imagination can come up with, so that its use does not end when your bag of nuts is consumed.
In their factory in Romblon, they have built a happy community of workers who are actively involved in the company. Valerie proudly shows us some of the totes and pouches that the companies employees stitched from scrap fabric from the canvas bags they use which hold the pili nuts together, for which the community took the initiative to make. They also have started using handwoven buri boxes (which are biodegradable) as gift boxes to support the local community that produces them. They work closely with the farmers and ensure them fair wages.
As the family continues to grow the business with their products being exported to Europe and the Middle East as well as distributed locally, they hope that more and more people discover the powerful nut and celebrate it for its wonderful health properties, unmatched taste, and it’s stunning design by nature.
The Cracking Monkey
The Cracking Monkey sells raw, sprouted pili nuts in the shell which come with a cracking device for a fun and interactive healthy snack experience.