Thriving On What’s Local
Dana Lister owns the Zimbabwean company Thrive, which specialises in fermented health drinks. “I was always into healthy eating – fermented food and drinks and traditional ingredients,” says Dana. “And I have always believed in going back to what our grandmothers used to eat. I started making fermented drinks and my friends and family loved them. They encouraged me to start selling.”
Dana makes her healthy brews using special microbial cultures to produce tasty drinks known as kombucha and kefir. She also makes a range of vinegars which can be taken as health tonics or used more conventionally in salad dressings and marinades. These drinks and vinegars are popularly lauded for their health benefits, particularly in promoting gut health. Research investigating the types of beneficial microbes that live in our digestive system has found that they have a huge influence on our overall health. Fermented drinks including kombucha and kefir may help attract healthy microbes to live in the gut.
Kombucha is traditionally made with black tea, but since organic black tea is hard to find, Dana started looking for alternatives and experimenting with indigenous ingredients. “I discovered that the Kombucha culture loves resurrection bush!” Dana also makes a delicious vinegar from a blend of zumbani and resurrection bush and a Fire Cider known as The Master Tonic. This powerful, healing tonic is a combination of zumbani and resurrection bush vinegars, with ginger, garlic, turmeric, onions, chilli and horse radish which can be taken daily or at the first sign of a cold. Dana uses rosella for its beautiful colour and flavour in many of her drinks.
“I am amazed by the wide range of people who buy my products. Zimbabweans seem to be very health conscious and surprisingly, my drinks are particularly popular with children,” she says. Her customers love the drinks’ unique combination of tang, fizz and natural, local flavours. Thrive drinks can now be bought in most supermarkets and speciality food shops in Zimbabwe. As her business grows, Dana plans to explore more local flavours. Experimenting with makoni tea is top on her list.