"Activist activating earth one biodynamic chocolate bar at a time...let's do this together!!" Zen and Bunni from ZenBunni biodynamic chocolates
Feet on the ground surrounded by Nature and deeply connected to the Earth. Devoted to the biodynamic lifestyle and spreading the message of health on this planet, ZenBunni chocolates are simply the vehicle. I had the true pleasure of spending an afternoon with Zen, Bunni and their daughter, Alchemy, hearing more about their mission and journey with these chocolates. It moved me, inspired me and deeply resonated to the level that I know what they're sharing with this world is important and impactful. Read on as more is revealed...
Living Wholly: How did you two meet?
Zen: We met in Los Angeles, California 18 years ago when I was a clothing designer in the 90s. I was designing a Hip hop clothing line called Charismatic in Hollywood. It was well known at the time. My friend started a magazine and wanted to do a photo shoot. He asked me to style it. The original photographer couldn’t come but their friend, Bunni, could come. The minute Bunni and I met, we loathed each other. There was a constant conflict of who was doing what. There was so much aggravation and our heads were butting. We both wanted to fire each other and just finish the job. For 3 days, we loathed each other and then it was done.
Bunni: At that time, there was no digital. Zen had to edit the photos. I did not want to deal with him. I would not send the photos, thinking I would not get the contact sheets back. Someone had to come over to my office to review them. Zen came over. When he arrived and I answered the door, it was like a “Cosmic - Karmic bang” - my dog attacked Zen. He was not very happy. Then, he saw the photos and LOVED them. He began to realize how talented I was and we became friends. We were inseparable for years. One night after a long day together, we finally kissed and the journey of love continued forward.Living Wholly: What is the history of Zenbunni?
Zen: We’ve had Zenbunni since 2004. The original space was called Zenbunni Gallery. Pictured above.
Bunni: Zen had intestinal issues. I noticed that David Wolfe was doing a talk at Erewhon. I knew if I told him about the talk, we would go raw. I don't cook. Zen is the cook. I went out of town for 3 days, came home and everything was cleared out and we were raw. During that time, there were no yummy desserts. All of the Café Gratitude’s were in San Francisco. Zen took a quick course with a friend that made raw desserts. Our friends loved the chocolates and encouraged us to sell them.
Zen: Bunni is a trained photographer. “She’s so good,” says Alchemy. We rented a small studio in Topanga for her dark room. I suggested we use the other part of the space to show the art. We set up a gallery to put her photography. We added local friends' jewelry and our chocolates to the gallery. People would come in just for the chocolates.
Bunni: Later, we opened a larger space in Santa Monica. I got pregnant and in the 5th month, I had no focus, was tired and not engaged in the gallery. We decided to quietly close the store. Zen would take care of me and our new baby, Alchemy. After that, we got all of these phone calls and emails asking for the chocolate. People were asking "where are the chocolates?"
During that time, we met an Osteopath that was a biodynamic farmer. He invited us to his farm and encouraged us to eat anything we wanted. We ate lettuce and it tasted alive. Salty and juicy. I made the decision that the next time we would make the chocolate, it would be biodynamic. For 1.5 years, Zen researched how to create biodynamic chocolate.
Zen: We made the chocolates because there was nothing sweet that was good to eat. We had really great results with this way of living and thought, “I am just going to make chocolates myself.” Friends continued telling us to sell the chocolates and when we did, it turned into a thing. We continued to make chocolate for about 10 years while still selling our art, design, making things, etc.
We went raw/vegan for 2 years and felt great. Then, we felt terrible, prompting us to dig deeper into what the human body needs.We are now transformed conscious omnivores. The body is so complicated and there is so much information out there. Self-exploration can be dangerous. It is so important to have a great functional medicine doctor, doctor you trust, etc. Most people need meat, warm food; ancient ways of eating. The body needs a lot of other things. Everyone is on their own path. We are not into judging people for what they eat. The chocolates are the health tool as a way to integrate so much. It is a vehicle for sharing the message of Biodynamic and spread health and educate. It evolved into a much larger mission than simply eating and making chocolate.
Living Wholly: What inspired you to create a business centered around biodynamic chocolates?
Zen: Realizing how important it is to being grounded, earthing and not being so distracted by the madness that is out there. You have to literally jump through a million hoops to live a natural, non-toxic lifestyle. After having a child, we had a deeper desire to live naturally. Once we learned about the biodynamic lifestyle, we realized it is the most impactful and connects everything.
We realized how important it is to share with others. This is one of the most important issues in the whole world. Organic has shifted the planet. Organic is sustainable. However, biodynamic is regenerative. We need to go much further than organic. Biodynamic is having relationships with animals, the ecosphere, the atmosphere and the level of consciousness this entails.
Bunni: Biodynamic needs to be more accessible and this is a way to make the mission feasible. Chocolate transcends all ages and is so unassuming. People try the bar and then ask the question, "What is biodynamics, what is ashwagandha?" From there, we can begin to educate and support the shift.
Living Wholly: As a Family company, what keeps you devoted to this vision daily?
Bunni: We are making change through education. We feel blessed to have this as the vehicle. We tried to stay away from superfoods in the beginning. We simply wanted to connect with people through organic chocolate. Slowly, with the traction of biodynamic, we got the taste profile we wanted and people enjoyed it. The chocolate has to taste good. Some medicinal chocolates don’t taste good. It has to be a healthy, enjoyable relationship with chocolate.
Living Wholly: Where do you source the ingredients for Zenbunni?
Zen: The cane sugar is from India. There are only 2 biodynamic farmers in the world. It took 1.5 years to get a sample. Otherwise, the other ingredients are organic and wildcrafted herbs until more are biodynamic and it is more accessible.
We want to get to the level of empowering farmers to go biodynamic. The goal is to be big enough to fund a farmer to become biodynamic.
Living Wholly: Where do you make the products?
Bunni: A factory on the outskirts of Los Angeles.Living Wholly: What has been the most challenging experience in your life that turned out to be the most meaningful opportunity to your life's path?
Zen: Optimum health because I was sick all the time. I had surgeries and was on medications. Once I realized Western medicine was only one small way, it opened up so much for me - herbs and other ways of healing. When I saw the results of eating naturally, it made sense to me. I’d rather try to eat something that’s being grown naturally than take something that is made in a lab.
I knew that we had to frontier this. Everything we do always has to be Mother Nature focused. Even if it were art, it has to be some sort of ode to that.
Living Wholly: In your words, how are you serving the world and contributing your gifts?
Zen: Being a living example and having a green business. What is the point of having a brand if it’s not green? We encourage people to take a serious audit and ask what am I doing, who do I work for and what do I stand for? It is time to question everything. We promote this and live it which is a way to support the shift. We don’t want it to be so rare and weird. Our chocolates just open the door and spark that beginning.
Living Wholly: What does living wholly mean to you?
Bunni: Ultimately, living in your full truth. Whatever path you choose to take, knowing it comes from your truth and your truth is your heart. Knowing that you are leading from that place.
Living Wholly: What are your top tips for living a healthy, fulfilling life?
Bunni + Zen:
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