Zenfuel Co-Founder Anand’s Journey to Source Bamboo
Anand’s brother-in-law is a retired officer of the Indian Forest Service and a botanist by training. Anand used to travel to northeast India by train during his high school summer vacations to visit his sister.
He was attracted to the region due to its immense biodiversity and the traditional ways tribes live, even as the world around them changed. Bamboo is a part of life in these tribal regions. Currently, there are more than 145 known tribes with different languages and traditions living in this area equal to the size of New York State. He was intrigued by bamboo’s importance as the most extensively used plant resource among these tribes.
Thirty years later in his present role as a researcher, he revisited the literature on bamboo and its traditional use in northeast India.
During his travels, he saw people scrapping the inner bark of bamboo and using it as a powder to mix with various food items for long-term storage. He also came across papers written by scientists in India, China and Bangladesh and learned that the inner bark of bamboo contains organic silica.
From this research, he learnt this product could be used in the United States as a replacement for silicon dioxide, a synthetic chemical used in much of our processed foods.
After completing a long-term stability study, he determined Zenfuel is ready to use bamboo in its dietary supplements.
While it is exciting to find a replacement for synthetic silicon dioxide, he understood that the plant source is not as unlimited, as the process includes growing and cutting many bamboo plants. There is also an issue in disposing of waste produced when forming bamboo into pulp. To cut down on waste and help the environment, Zenfuel has repurposed this bamboo to mix it with fly ash to make environmentally friendly bricks for the villages from which the ingredient is sourced.