At Living Tree Community Foods we manufacture organic nut butters in Berkeley, California. We distribute our creations worldwide. We are well represented in natural foodstores throughout the United States.
Contribution to California Agriculture
In 1979, Jesse Schwartz, a former college teacher and John Kozack a teacher and administrator with the BioDynamic Farming and Gardening Association of Southern California founded Living Tree Community in Marin County, California. We propagated historic and heirloom fruit trees, including over 80 varieties of old time apple varieties. Through the miracle of grafting we made “photocopies” and propagated them in quantity. We gathered many of these varieties on fruit exploring expeditions in Mendocino County, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Sierra foothills. We were often guided by old timers who had grown up in the orchards and knew every tree. We brought back from near extinction several early California varieties including Hauer Pippin, Skinner’s Seedling and Pink Pearl, a pink fleshed variety.
We also introduced the Warren pear to California agriculture. It was discovered by T.O. Warren, a distinguished member of the North American Fruit Explorers. He found it in a rural area of Louisiana. He at once noticed something unusual despite the heat and humidity, it was free of fireblight. Its refreshingly sweet taste and fine texture were also exceptional. Family farmer Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farms in Brentwood commissioned us to transform an orchard of nondescript pears to Warren Pear. We did so over three years by a sophisticated grafting technique calledframeworking, joining scions of Warren Pear onto the primary and secondary branches. By leaving the trees intact, we brought them back into full production in less than half the time it would have taken to plant an orchard anew.
In addition to growing trees, we began manufacturing almond butter, which we offered in our tree catalog.
After a decade of propagating trees, we closed the Nursery. Jesse Schwartz founded Living Tree Community Foods, Inc. in Berkeley and we have since devoted ourselves to manufacturing and distributing organic food. Wherever possible, we buy our ingredients from family farmers. In particular, our pistachios, calymirna figs, mission figs, dried peaches, apricots, nectarines, medjool dates and halawi dates are grown by family farmers here in California. We feel privileged to support them.
Contribution to American Agriculture
We propagated magnificent heirloom apple varieties like Calville Blanc d’Hiver, a magnificent French winter apple. It was among Thomas Jefferson’s favorites. Then there was Hudson’s Golden Gem, a fine, old English russet and Reinette Simirenko, an apple popular throughout Russia and Ukraine. Rather than put these trees in a “tree museum” we were convinced that the best way to preserve them was to grow them so we distribute them widely and they are growing in back yards throughout America.
Contribution to the Live Food Movement
We distribute alive nut butters, olive oil and olives worldwide. We introduced black sesame tahini at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California in 2003. Our main creation isalive almond butter made from California almonds.
We donate food in support of live foods events – most recently the live food film festival in Los Angeles.
We have donated food in support of live food workshops from Colorado to Costa Rica and have worked with leading live food teachers in organizing workshops and seminars.
Our inspiration in the live food and healing movement comes from several sources. First there is Professor Arnold Ehret. He came to California from Germany in the 1920’s. He was the first great teacher here of health and natural healing. His Rational Fasting is a classic which we heartily recommend.
Then there is Dr. Bernarr, D.C. D.D. of Los Angeles. He is a brilliant and original thinker. We recommend a visit to his website. His essays on Contagion and Breast Cancer are monuments to a compassionate and wholistic approach to serious illness. He offers an alternative to fear and dread, relying on mobilizing the healing and restorative power of the body.
For years we’ve been advocating green drinks and energy soups. We draw upon the work of another great California naturopath, Dr. H. E. Kirschner, M.D. His Nature’s Healing Grasses is a classic. Using an ordinary kitchen blender one can make a green drink of parsley, celery, chard, lettuce and kale that is healing and invigorating. Please visit ourLiving Tree Energy Soup.
We are gratified to see that recently, World Teacher, Victoria Boutenko has evidently come to the simple conclusion in regard to the healing power of green drinks. This is all the more telling as she is coming from a different tradition, namely that of Ann Wigmore. We recommend Victoria’s new book, Green for Life.
Every day we receive emails and phone calls from enthusiasts and we endeavor to guide them toward more and more aliveness.
We are taking a leading role in the effort to contest the Marketing Order that requires that all almonds be fumigated as of September 1st, 2007.
We are also an educational association. For years we’ve had an internship program offering a gateway to personal evolution and an opening to a career in the organic food industry.
We welcome inquiries about our work.
Jesse Schwartz, Ph.D, C.E., M.S., B.C.E
Living Tree Community Foods
FAQFrequently Asked Questions
Are your almonds irradiated or fumigated?
No. Our almonds are certified organic, which is only available to products that have not been exposed to ionizing radiation or chemical fumigants.
Please visit our almond page for a description of how our almonds are processed.
My child is extremely allergic to peanuts. Are your nut butters free from peanuts?
We do not sell peanuts. We do not make peanut butter. There are no peanuts on our premises.
Are your products and facility gluten free?
We do not use any gluten or gluten products in any of our items or at our facility. However, our ingredients come from a variety of farms and vendors, and we do not track possible gluten presence in our suppliers.
Which of your products are kosher certified?
Our product directory has a column that marks which of our products are kosher certified. Please check out product directory here.
How much will shipping cost?
When you place an order, the shopping cart will estimate shipping cost before check-out.
Who does your kosher supervision?
Sunrise Kosher; Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California. Rabbi Levy I. Zerkind is the Rabbinic administrator and Rabbi Ben Tzion Welton is the supervision coordinator. We invite you to visit their website.
Which items have the longest shelf life?
Dried bananas, coconut butter, coconut oil, agave nectar, vanilla powder, sesame seeds and cranberries. Our honey will keep for 4000 years, in case you were wondering.
What about genetic modification?
Genetically modified food cannot be certified as ‘Organic’.
How long will the almonds keep?
Our almonds should be kept refrigerated. Freezing is recommended if you plan to keep them for more than six months. Why not refrigerate some and freeze the rest?
Are your almonds sprouted before slicing into butter?
We do not sprout our almonds. We have never been able to understand the point of sprouting an almond and then dehydrating it and turning the deyhydrated nut into butter.
On the other hand, we heartily applaud those who sprout almonds and make them into almond milk or grind them into butter in the comfort of their own kitchen.
How hot does the machine get during the process of grinding almond?
We make our raw almond butter in small batches at our plant here in Berkeley. Our process is unique to Living Tree Community Foods. The machine gets warm during the grinding process, so we slice them, let we rest the nuts overnight and then slice them again the next day, so the least heat possible touches the nuts to keep their raw flavor and health benefits intact.
Why do some of your products contain honey?
We use honey instead of sugar because it is alive, and sugar is not. Please note that many of our products do not contain honey including almond, walnut, cashew, pecan, macadamia and pumpkin seed butters as well as our milk of paradise, tahinis and pestos.
Are your fruits sulfured?
Sulfured fruits cannot be certified as “organic”.
At what temperature is your fruit dried?
Our apricots, peaches, nectarines and dates are sundried. Figs are sundried, refrigerated and then put in a warm water bath. Bananas are dried at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Macadamias are dried at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (to 1.5% moisture)
What is the best way to keep dried fruits and nuts?
Refrigerate them. If you intend to keep for more than 6 months, we recommend that you freeze them. A good strategy is to refrigerate some and freeze the remainder.
I notice your nut butters are kosher certified. What does that mean?
In the case of a nut butter, olives or olive oil, kosher certification means that a Rabbi or an observant Jew has supervised our production process to make sure that our products do not contain animal products. For example, in the case of our roasted almond butter the oven is checked to make sure it is not being used to roast meat. The trays on which the almonds are placed are checked to make sure they have not been greased with animal fat. Furthermore, animal fat has not been used to grease the machinery.
Kosher certification is based upon this unique perspective:
It is the task of the Jewish people to get on with the work that was assigned to the Patriarch Abraham:-
...and you shall be a blessing.. .and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:2-3 and to the Patriarch Jacob ...and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your offspring. (Genesis 28:14) Count Leon Tolstoy, the author ofWar and Peace, was not a Jew, yet he spoke knowingly and profoundly when he said, The Jew is that sacred being, who has brought down from Heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions. As servants of the Eternal and as a blessing to humankind, Jews need to avoid eating foods which decrease spiritual sensitivity and awareness. This does not mean that a Jew is forbidden animal products in general, rather a Jew is permitted to eat only relatively few animals-such as the cow, the goat and the sheep. Furthermore, these must be slaughtered in a way that will not cause suffering to the animal. This is in accord with a tradition going back thousands of years. The topic of Kosher food is very broad. If you want to learn more may we suggest you open your Bible to Leviticus 11:1-11:47 and Deuteronomy 14:2-21.
Do you have a Fair Trade program?
Our fair trade program consists of working with California family farmers whenever possible. In some cases we have working relationships with farmers going back for decades. They grow our almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peaches, apricots, medjool and halawi dates. Further afield our pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts come from Oregon and our golden flax seeds come from the midwest. Whenever possible we buy American.
Are your cashews raw? Is your cashew butter really raw?
We offer sundried, organic cashews from Bali. We also offer organic cashew pieces that are minimally heated. Also, we offer organic, whole cashews that have been conventionally processed, using heat to remove them from their caustic husks, but they are not roasted.
Here’s a fascinating insight from Habib Bailey, a leader in the raw food movement when it was in its infancy:- I imagine that many of you raw folks have been told that all cashews are not truly raw, because they’ve been heated in the shell before being opened. Well, I’m here to give you some news that will be very well received by everyone who loves the rich, creamy consistency that cashews bring to many delicious raw recipes.
A long time ago, I also heard that cashews are heated in the shells. I did find out that it is true. But rather than simply leaving it at that, and never eating them again, I reasoned that whether they were truly raw or not depended on whether or not enough heat made it through the shell, to actually alter the nuts themselves. You see,the reason they are heated, is that there is a caustic substance coating the inside of the shell, that will burn the hands of those who open them for processing. They are briefly heated in order to disperse this natural, caustic agent. I heard that the heating didn’t need to be very long, in order to accomplish this. This is what caused me to begin questioning how much heat actually made it through the shell, and whether it was of sufficient duration to actually
alter the nut.
So I devised an experiment:
I began making nut cheeses from all different kinds of nuts I could find, using a very simple recipe I have devised to make a cultured nut cheese. Whenever I tried a particular nut cheese, I would make two versions: one batch I would make from nuts labelled “raw” and the other batch I would make from nuts that were NOT labelled raw. For each kind of nut, I gave it several tries, to see if my results were the same each time. And guess what? My results were ALWAYS the same…
Nut cheeses made from raw nuts virtually always came out right. They tasted good, and had the kind of “pleasantly sharp” taste you get from the growth of healthful, beneficial bacteria. Similar to the kind that grows in good, live sauerkraut.
On the other hand, the nut cheeses made from nuts which were NOT labelled as raw, ALWAYS ended up spoiling. There was in every single case, a bad smell, and a bad taste. They were full of putrefactive bacteria, and had to be thrown away.
NOW FOR THE CLINCHER: If you make the same conclusion from these results that I did, you would also reason that if a nut cultured properly, then it MUST have been raw….
Well, I will tell you: every single batch of cashew cheese that I have ever made from cashews that were labelled as raw, ALWAYS cultured properly, and came out tasting and smelling very, very good… with no putrefactive odor or taste at all. In fact, whenever I have given samples of this cheese to people who haven’t tasted it before, their eyes widen, and they have to have the recipe…
AND just like all the other kinds of nuts tested, every batch of cashew cheese made from cashews NOT labelled as raw, ALWAYS SPOILED.
So the only possibility that makes sense to me, is that although cashews are most definitely heated in the shells, that not enough heat makes it through the shell, and not for a sufficient duration, to detrimentally alter the cashew nut itself.
I have shared the story of my “experiment” and conclusions with many raw food teachers. Usually they are very glad to hear of it, because the cashew is an extremely versatile, tasty nut.
Our ValuesWE SUPPORT FAMILY FARMERS
At Living Tree Community Foods we feel it is essential to support family farmers. As the Cornucopia Institute states:
“Almond farmers and handlers engaged in the sale of raw and/or organic almonds have watched their operations disintegrate as a result of the treatment mandate. Consumers and retailers have turned to foreign suppliers, taking advantage of the regulatory loophole, for untreated raw and organic almonds. (sic)”
At Living Tree Community we have been buying almonds from California family farmers since 1979. For decades, we have operated with the value that established business relations based upon a handshake, a smile and a look in the eye are surely the best foundation of a fruitful relationship. We refuse to give this up. We refuse to deal with an anonymous, multinational conglomerate in Europe. We refuse to participate in “outsourcing” almond growers to other countries.
The city of Fresno in California is in the heart of the almond growing region. Unemployment there is a shocking 17%. 35 miles west of Fresno lies the town of Mendota, where nearly half the people there are unemployed! The situation conjures images from the Great Depression and the Grapes of Wrath with farm workers idled as farmland goes fallow. This is a national disgrace! We have got to support California family farmers!
It is in this spirit that we are pleased to offer only California almonds to our customers.
Our InspirationOUR INSPIRATION
We make our products in Berkeley, a wellspring of human spirit. It has a rich tradition of Americans who dared to stand up and speak the truth.
American Spiritual Master
Here stood John Muir: naturalist and American spiritual master. Muir wrote that we should “climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
He was also quoted in saying “the clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” He devoted his last days to fighting to save Hetch Hetchy, a valley comparable to the magnificence of Yosemite. Despite his efforts the forces of “progress” built the dam and flooded it. It remains underwater to this day.
Martin Luther King Jr
Here stood Martin Luther King. In his last days, he came to the realization that the struggle was not only for social justice for his people, but for all of humanity. He came to Berkeley and spoke on the campus, in front of Sproul Hall where the Free Speech Movement began. We all stand taller, knowing that such a courageous man lived among us.
It was here in Berkeley that Steve Wozniak went to school. He attended the University of California where he studied electrical engineering. He had the good sense to drop out in 1975 and founded Apple Computer, Inc. with Steve Jobs. They designed the Apple I, the first personal computer in Jobs’ bedroom and built the prototype in his garage. Jobs showed the machine to a local electronics equipment retailer, who ordered twenty-five. To fund the startup, Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator, which raised $1,300. With that capital base and credit from local electronics suppliers, they set up their first production line. In 1980, Apple went public and made Jobs and Wozniak millionaires.
By inventing the personal computer, Steve Wozniak changed the world. Yet he was no mere technocrat. He wanted to contribute to the betterment of humankind.
Wozniak said, “I wanted to put chips together like an artist, better than anyone else could and in a way that would be the absolute most usable by humans. That was my goal when I built the first computer, the one that later became the Apple I. It was the first computer to use a keyboard so you could type onto it, and the first to use a screen you could look at. The idea of usable technology was something that was kind of born in my head as a kid when I had this fantasy that I could someday build machines people could use. And it happened!”
Just as Mozart channeled musical scores, writing them down in a final version without revising, editing or correcting, so too, Steve channeled the circuitry for the first PC. He was the conduit for a revolutionary invention that changed every aspect of our lives.
Georgia Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln
In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington, “agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”
In his inauguration address Abraham Lincoln said, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?” By supporting California almond growers we are but realizing Lincoln’s vision of a “new birth of freedom.”
Our WayOur Way
At Living Tree Community we believe that vibrant good health is a combination of many subtle elements including alive food, intermittent fasting, vigorous exercise, restful sleep, organic gardening, fulfilling creative activity and loving relationships based on appreciation and respect.
Our mentors include Professor Arnold Ehret. He was the first great teacher of alive nutrition in the United States. He came to California in the early 20’s. We will always recall our interview with Fred Hirsch in this regard. He told how Professor Ehret healed him from a serious illness. Fred noticed a tiny ad in the Classifieds in a Los Angeles paper. Professor Ehret was going to give a talk on nutrition. Fred attended the lecture and walked up to Professor Ehret afterwards and asked him if he could help him.
Ehret in turn asked Fred if he would be willing to undergo a fast. Fred agreed. He rented a room in a hotel and began a fast on water. Ehret visited him every day. It was a prolonged and rigorous ordeal. Fred emerged from it healed and renewed. He dedicated the rest of his life to publishing Ehret’s works in inexpensive editions, accessible to all (we recall how in the 70’s it was possible to go into a natural foodstore in southern California and buy a book by Ehret for a dollar or two).
Ehret’s Mucusless Healing System and his Rational Fasting are milestone’s in humankind’s search for health and healing.
Our other mentor has been Dr. Kirschner. Years ago we came across his classic Nature’s Healing Grasses. Amidst the drear and conformity of the 50’s, he conceived of a wonderful way of healing by preparing “green drinks” in a blender.
He would take wild plants like purslane, malva and lambs quarters, put them in a blender with spring water and blend. He was getting excellent results, in treating people with serious illness. His book is still available on Amazon.com and we recommend it.
We follow a live food diet with at least one green drink each day. We also fast for a day each week, drinking only water. We break our fast on live, organic fruits and vegetables.
On one special day each week, the Sabbath, in addition to live food, we eat some cooked food, especially bread and wine.
This combination of green drinks and fasting works well for us.
Each morning we begin with stretches and engage in calisthenics. We recommend martial arts both for discipline and growth of spirit.
It is rightly said that Americans are deprived of adequate sleep. We strongly recommend adequate rest, an essential to rejuvenation.
Creative and Productive Activity
We feel that every person has a basic need to engage in creative activity. Everyone needs work that is not only remunerative but is fulfilling. This is as much a need as for alive food. Soul satisfying work is a necessity.
We believe that everyone ought to have the privilege of garden plot. Even the smallest plot can be productive. So many brothers and sisters have developed intensive gardening into an art.
There is so much literature available. If you live in an apartment there is usually a community garden nearby. Remember that a compost pile is a digestive organ of the garden. We invite you to give yourself the satisfaction of composting those carrot tops and banana peels. The resulting humus is fragrant and will give life to your garden and to you.
As one follows a live food diet, after a while one’s spiritual sensitivity improves. One can anticipate a situation or event or someone’s attitude. When the phone rings is it a call of praise or a bill collector? As one’s spiritual sensitivity improves so does one’s opening to subtle vibrations of love. One becomes more discerning and quickly sees which relationship can be potentially enhancing or damaging. One feels more of a sense of unity with all living things and with everything that enhances life.
This is the Way we have evolved over decades. We would very much appreciate your comments and suggestions.
Here is a video that exemplifies our threefold way.
Living Tree Community Foods
At Living Tree Community Foods, we have at heart to provide the best quality products. This is why we are very selective in the choice of our raw products.
The facts speak for themselves. Here are awards we are proud to share with you; awards won by the growers we take our products from, and awards won by Living Tree as a nut butter manufacturer.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils All created by the orchardist Darro Grieco in California
Alive, Organic California Heritage Olive Oil
Alive, Organic Olio Nuevo Olive Oil
Alive, Organic Olive Oil Flavored with Crimson Oranges,
Best of Class, L.A. International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, 2009
Best of Show, L.A. International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, 2009
Alive, Organic Pistachio Butter A Living Tree creation
Finalist, Outstanding USDA-Certified Organic Product by the NASFT, National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., 2012