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Castlegar, BC

Happy Gut Water Kefir

Brewed in Castlegar BC, Happy Gut is an innovator in the world of ferments and probiotics!

Who is the brewmaster at Happy Gut?
Leeza Zurwick

Where is Happy Gut located?
Castlegar, BC

And what do you make?
We assemble Water Kefir DIY kits, we grow and package Water Kefir grains and we brew bottled 350 ml Water Kefir drinks.

What motivated you to start brewing? Tell us your story.
Being creative is what energizes me. My farm in the lush, green, West Kootenay area is my canvas and I have a deep passion for living off the earth and using food as medicine.

One day, my sister-in-law Ursula, shared some water kefir grains with me. Buying the right supplies in my small town was almost impossible. So off I went to neighboring towns, on a mission to get the right water kefir-making supplies. “This has got to be easier,” I thought to myself. I finally started brewing, but in all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing and I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t want to get botulism or E. coli! So, off to the internet I went, but it seemed like everyone had a different opinion. “This has got to be easier,” I thought to myself.

Eventually, through trial and error, I got better at making basic water kefir and I began to look for recipes and experiment with different flavours. I started looking forward to drinking my latest concoctions while I made dinner each night. My bloating had significantly decreased and people kept telling me that I was looking really good. The only thing I had changed was that I was drinking water kefir on a daily basis. Watching the news one night, I saw that the American Health Association announced that there was finally scientific proof that gut health and brain health are connected and that probiotics are beneficial to that relationship. That was the moment Happy Gut was born.

It became my mission to teach people about fermentation and to make water kefir accessible to everyone. I began intensely studying the effects of probiotics and gut health. I learned that every different fermented product (water kefir, kombucha, saurkraut, yogurt, milk kefir, tempeh, miso etc. ) carries different strains of LIVE bacteria that populate our guts and help build strong immune systems and we need to eat all of them.

My family worked hard to install a certified kitchen into our home — the ‘Grow Op’, as we call it. I started growing water kefir grains on a large scale and they began to multiply profusely. I had struck the perfect combination of fresh, mineral rich water and mixed organic sugars to achieve an explosion of beautiful, plump, water kefir grains. The development of the kit, packaging and website began. I was thoroughly enjoying the journey. Giving back is imperative for my company. I joined forces with the We Work! program to employ people with disabilities. 3 lovely girls began working at Happy Gut and are now an integral part of the team.

My mantra is, “From Humble Beginnings…” and I refer to it whenever challenges arise. Happy Gut is on a mission to teach you how to bring back radiance and energy to your life by providing a simple way to add naturally fermented products to your daily routine. I look forward to adding beauty, vitality and nourishment to your everyday life.

Now let’s get brewing!

Wow, sounds like quite the journey!  I love brewing water kefir at home with my Happy Gut kit. It’s become a favourite weekend activity. What are some of your greatest joys?
My greatest joy is when people stop me in town or send me a message and tell me about their own success stories since they began drinking water kefir. It’s so gratifying to know that something that made a difference in my life is making a difference in others’.

The Kootenays are so lucky to have you and your unique product. What are some of your greatest challenges?
One of my challenges is that every single water kefir grain/culture that I sell has to be grown. There are no other water kefir wholesalers in Canada. I have to be very careful and methodical so that I don’t over-extend my sales capacity. Since I’m the only company in Canada that is selling to stores and there is a huge need, I have to be very cognizant of Happy Gut’s growth. That said, I’ve been told by people in the health industry that the contracts that I’ve solidified in the last 2 months and the press that I have received are all unprecedented to have achieved so quickly. I have been warned to hold on, that it’s going to be a wild ride. Bring it on!

What is your vision for your business?
I started my company from humble beginnings and will take each day one step at a time. I am focusing on keeping one foot in front of the other since there are so many facets of growth that I can explore. The world of fermentation and probiotics is just beginning to hit mainstream and people are so eager to learn more about it and to try doing it themselves. Fermentation is set to grow by 800% in the next 5 years, so the growth ride that I am in for may be immense! I am working closely with a Columbia Basin Business Advisor and feel very lucky to be part of a free business coaching program. The resources that the program provides to my company are unprecedented! I can’t thank them enough!

So how do you actually make water kefir?
It’s really easy with the Happy Gut DIY kit and my easy-to-follow YouTube videos. Some videos are below, and I welcome members to subscribe to my You Tube channel and watch me make various water kefir recipes. I am in the process of uploading over 30 inspiring water kefir videos. I also encourage people to sign up for my Weekly Blog about brewing tips, health tips and recipes.

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