Tucked down an alley off of Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Zen and Bunni Nishimura lovingly refer to their flagship store as their "rabbit hole". Built with clay rich mud from their Topanga Canyon home along with sand, straw, crystals and cocoa, the tiny property is quite literally covered floor to ceiling in organic and biodynamic chocolate. A magical space for the pair to explore biodynamic pairings and market their handcrafted and healing recipes, the husband and wife team have now expanded into a second burrow in Santa Monica's Fairmont Hotel and built an internationally recognized brand with their delicious "superfood" treats. We caught up with Zen and Bunni to learn a bit more about biodynamic farming, how they source their tasty and adaptogenic ingredients, and the healing benefits of their delicious and unexpected chocolates.
Can you describe your background and how ZenBunni became what is it today?
As artists, our partnership has always been rooted in creating together. Arriving by our own paths, we each had become deeply committed to food as medicine and our stewardship of this earth. In our search for delicious and ecologically conscious chocolate, we began playing together and through that curiosity, love, and commitment, the magic of ZenBunni Chocolate was inevitable.
What made you decide on biodynamic farming for the production of your cacao?
There was a time when we knew Organic farming to be the highest standard of growing. Living in Topanga Canyon, we were connected with a local man who had created a Biodynamic oasis on land notorious for bad soil, where nothing was thought to ever grow. This man’s commitment to a Biodynamic practice, the attunement to the land and natural rhythms of the earth, the lush flora, the vitality of this place – it was clear to us that Biodynamic practice was the true healing our lands and community were needing. His sharing with us has ignited our passion and has allowed us to share the Biodynamic practice with thousands of others.
We love the mystical and unexpected pairings in your chocolates. How do you source your ingredients?
We are meticulous and relentless, ha! We have traveled far and cultivated much patience in building relationships with small growers around the world. We’re clear about our standards and will continue searching until we find the growers that align with our Biodynamic mission. We’ve been making chocolate for the last 10 years, building relationships and discovering new like-missioned people around the world. This hunt doesn’t end with our ingredients, we are equally committed in all our packaging, completely biodegradable and sustainable, down to the vegetable inks.
Can you describe some of the healing benefits of your chocolates and your inspiration behind them?
Cacao alone is a powerful and sacred food, having more than 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries, the highest plant based source of iron, and full of magnesium and calcium. Our inspiration? What a beautifully delicious vehicle for connecting folks to food as medicine and on healing the earth through Biodynamics and conscious commerce. We use many powerful healing minerals and herbs, often synergistically to ‘turn on’ the most powerful properties.
Our Mystic Mocha bar includes hand-ground Biodynamic espresso and brain oxygenating tonic herb Tibetan Rhodiola from high along the mystic Himalayan mountain range. Most people reach for caffeine when looking for energy, though in this bar we’ve included mystical Rhodiola, and adaptogenic root that looks to bring balance in the body, increasing energy and focus, while relieving stress and elevating mood.
Do you have a similar process when crafting/sourcing your incense?
We do, though our ‘Holy Smokes’ incense have a particularly sacred and ancient lineage. We hand selected this organic mixture of plants and spices that make our incense. This compilation is a very old and secret recipe that very few people outside of the crafters are ever allowed to know the complete list of ingredients.
What are some of your daily rituals?
We live ZenBunni. Together with our daughter Alchemy, our days are spent on our mission to keep growing and educating. Whether this be self care in meditation, designing new recipes, or tending to our Biodynamic garden planted in collaboration with Marysia Miernowska and the Gaia School of Healing.
Can you describe your ideal day?
Not leaving our property and enjoying our land. Tending to our garden and trees, playing outside, and watching the sunset over a cup of ZenBunni Hot Coco with our daughter Alchemy.
What can we expect next from ZenBunni?
So much! We have tons of work to do for Mother Nature! In order to help her breathe, we need to bring carbon emissions down by "Carbon Farming" which is what Biodynamic Farming and other Regenerative Farming practices do. For her land, we need to wake people up to stop supporting the purchasing of non organic food and toxic household items that use pesticides and other chemicals that destroy the living organism most needed in order to grow food...topsoil! We will be expanding our products into a wide variety of food items and eventually non-food items to help enable the rapid growth of Biodynamic Farms and the education around the severity of our daily choices.