With the fast approaching holidays comes the pressure to buy and make Instagram-worthy gifts, meals and drinks. Amidst the hustle and bustle, buying local and organic can understandably take a back seat. And if the holiday pressure doesn’t flip your stomach, the heavy meals and festive drinks will. However, Josh and Tomo at Shrub Farm provide an all-in-one solution with their fruit infused drinking vinegars called shrubs.

Josh and Tomo’s shrub begins with apple cider vinegar made with organic Washington apples. Then, they infuse the vinegar with local, organic fruit, herbs, honey and cane sugar to make a concoction that can be used for cooking and mixing drinks (with or without alcohol). Shrub Farm currently offers 7 flavors of shrub and an organic raw apple cider vinegar called Apple State Vinegar.

Some of Shrub Farm’s suggested recipes include:

For a quiet night at home, simply pour 1/2 oz. of shrub over an 8 oz. glass of ice and fill with sparkling water. (I’ve been mixing mine with tap water and it’s just as delicious!)

If you’re not the gourmet chef or mixologist of the family, give shrub as a holiday or host gift. Recipes for each flavor are printed right on the bottle.

Interested in eating and drinking Earth-friendly? Check out our Food & Drink archives for more articles like this!

Why Shrub?

Josh said he and Tomo (who is nationally certified as a chef in Japan) had been brewing up business ideas long before shrub came along. During a trip to Japan, Tomo’s mom made them a shrub-like drink and they fell in love with it.

“We went back to Maui and started experimenting with a bunch of tropical fruit to make our own,” Josh said. “We did the math – all we needed was bottles, fruit, honey and vinegar.”

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Tomo and Josh at a farmers market. Photo by FotoMataio.

While Josh and Tomo were easily able to source fresh fruit in Hawaii, often picking their own oranges and guava from local groves and jungles. However, other materials – namely bottles – proved costly and unfeasible. This lead the couple to move to Bellingham, Washington in 2017, where all of their materials could be more easily sourced.

“Because we are farmers marketers, we got to know most of our growers before we started buying from them,” Josh said. “At this point, we are all in on the local, organic farmers and we’re not going back.”

As former massage therapists, making shrub taps into Josh and Tomo’s passion for healing others. Not only is shrub tasty, organic and local, it contains a living culture known as “The Mother of Vinegar” made of acetic acid bacteria. According to Shrub Farm, The Mother can support healthy digestion by providing “enzymes necessary to synthesize Vitamin B12.”

According to an article by University of Chicago Medicine, it can also help with blood sugar control (like after a giant Thanksgiving meal) and may help weight loss. However, both Shrub Farm and Chicago Medicine agree it is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Josh said he sees shrub as a good replacement for sugary drinks like Gatorade and soda.

Giving back to the sea

Josh and Tomo donate six percent of the profits from Apple State Vinegar to ocean conservation groups including the University of California-Davis SeaDoc Society. The group conducts veterinary research on dead marine animals to identify the cause of their death. Josh said the give-back program wasn’t spurred by anything specific, just the consistent build up of environmental issues.

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Six percent of profits from Apple State Vinegar go toward ocean conservation groups. The organic vinegar can be used for cooking, drinking, canning and gifting. Photo courtesy of Apple State Vinegar.

“Building a business just for profit is kind of boring and I like to feel good about the work I do,” Josh said. “Massage was about making money while giving back to someone, and that’s the goal here. It’s about caring about what you do and who you are working with.”

Apple State Vinegar features organic apples from the Yakima Valley and Okanogan County and has 6% acidity – up to 20% stronger than other organic brands. Josh said between the increased acidity and give back program, Apple State Vinegar provides a better overall experience.

“When you consume something that’s well made and you feel good about, your body is going to absorb that in a more positive way,” Josh said. “The mentality of what you consume can really dictate how you experience the product.”

This holiday season, Josh and Tomo will be at Seattle-area farmers markets and arts festivals. Their products are available these Washington locations and online. Online orders ship in minimal recyclable packaging.

Feature photo: Use Ginger & Hawaiian Chili Shrub to make an Instagram-worthy Maui Jackass (Mule) or give it as a holiday gift.