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Seasoning is everything in a Black household. Whether it’s Lawry’s, Tony Chachere’s, or Goya, cabinets and countertops across the country are piled with backstock (old and new) of the quintessential “I put that sh*t on everything” collection. I don’t ever remember seeing my mother buy them, either –– they were a timeless, seemingly self-regenerating constant that lived with my parents longer than I did.
As any household staple, I didn’t give them much thought. Until the Goya boycott of 2020, when people started opting for other brands or vowing to make their own adobo blends at home. Of course, boycotts spark curiosity, a never-ending interrogation of our purchasing habits: Who is behind the food we buy? What do they stand for? And, further: What is actually in the food I’m buying? Is it healthy for me? For the planet?
Of course, boycotts spark curiosity, a never-ending interrogation of our purchasing habits: Who is behind the food we buy? What do they stand for? And, further: What is actually in the food I’m buying? Is it healthy for me? For the planet?
Latinx-owned spice company Loisa is on a mission to answer those questions, while paying homage to the greats. The two founders, longtime friends Kenny Luna and Scott Hattis, were having trouble finding Latin foods that weren’t filled with MSG or artificial coloring and ingredients. They wanted to start a company that valued flavor and tradition, and was also transparent about its beliefs and commitment to the culture. So, let’s start with the basics. I got Loisa’s Flavor Trio Combo Pack ($29) –– “El Gran Combo”–– sazón, adobo, and sofrito.
Name A More Iconic Duo
Adobo is a blend of garlic, oregano, turmeric, black pepper and sea salt, while Sazón is made of oregano, cumin, garlic, coriander, achiote, and sea salt. At this point, I don’t even bother putting them away –– they are a permanent fixture on my kitchen table. Perfect for seasoning fish, meat, and tofu, or even sprinkling over a bowl of popcorn. You can mix them into sauces and drizzles like this one, or use them to add flavor to any kind of rice, bean, or vegetable dish. Truly, the possibilities are endless. And the difference in flavor between these and bigger-brand versions is immediately apparent. The smell alone when you open the bottle is a testament to the quality of each ingredient.
Let’s not forget the third in the trio, Sofrito. Sofrito is even more versatile: I’ve used it as a marinade for steak, base for a soup, part of a salad dressing, and by itself as a salsa for lazier cooking nights. Add a scoop of this to a pot of beans and you’ve got yourself a cheap, easy, delicious refrigerator staple that lasts for days.
For A Generation Of Mindful Eaters With Pride In Their Culture
Millennials and subsequent generations are invested in both cultural tradition and breaking the mold. The owners mention that they set out to reconcile this dichotomy, to make food for “a generation of mindful eaters with pride in their culture.”
If you pore over your ingredient lists and labels, Loisa is sure to check all the right boxes: USDA certified organic, non-GMO, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, certified kosher, and MSG Free. No artificial colors or flavors, no unnecessary fillers. It is even made in a U.S. facility that is free of the Top 8 allergens.
Yet as with many organic alternatives, these qualifications all come at a price. Loisa’s spices are only for sale online in packs, which comes out to roughly $9.50 per 3oz bottle. If everyone could afford an option that is healthier and more ethically produced, I’m sure they would choose it –– but for many people, $1.59 for an 8oz bottle of corner store seasoning makes a little more sense. Especially if you put it on everything.
Still, it is undoubtedly significant that Loisa is diversifying organic food options. Health and flavor are often thought to be at odds with one another, and with Loisa, home cooks can be confident about clean eating while working with flavors that have stood the test of time. “We don’t want generic organic store brand products on our counters or tables anymore. They don’t spark conversation about Papi, Noche Buena, or time on La Isla,” reads a note from the owners on their website. But, it continues, “We don’t want to look the other way when we throw seasoning into our calderas anymore.”
“We don’t want generic organic store brand products on our counters or tables anymore. They don’t spark conversation about Papi, Noche Buena, or time on La Isla,” reads a note from the owners on their website. But, it continues, “We don’t want to look the other way when we throw seasoning into our calderas anymore.”
Preparing traditional foods can be a spiritual practice, a way of affirming one’s identity. It can also be an entry point into learning about someone else’s culture and cuisine –– a friend teaches you a recipe that their mother used to make. Nobody in my family grew up with Latinx cooking, but we had adobo abound and friends who knew what to do with it. This spirit of cross-cultural, intergenerational exchange is foundational to the company and its ownership. Kenny was “born into this,” meaning he grew up in a Peruvian-Dominican household, cooking with these flavors throughout his childhood. His wife is French. Scott, on the other hand, “grew into this,” i.e. he is a white man whose experience with Latinx cooking has developed over the course of his relationship with his Dominican wife, Anna, her family, and their kids. All four of them, plus chef Yadira Garcia, are owners. Everyone involved in the company has a personal, familial connection to these flavors, and a desire to provide healthy options so that their most cherished comfort foods can be passed down in good conscience.
To cook and be cooked for is one of the most fulfilling means of social connection –– it’s what makes us human. With Loisa, indulging in this practice doesn’t have to be at our health’s expense.
Five More Reasons to Love Loisa:
- The company is big on community engagement. Loisa has donated goods to the Food Plug Project in South Florida, and keeps followers informed about issues like food access and insecurity on Instagram.
- From pins and totes to colorblock aprons, Loisa has adorable merch so you can rep your favorite seasoning in style.
- Loisa’s website and Instagram are packed with delicious recipes to get you inspired in the kitchen.
- Want to make dinner in a pinch? Loisa has ready-to-eat seasoned rice packs that’ll make healthy meal prep a breeze.
- Transparency! When you support Loisa, you know exactly who you are supporting and what they stand for. No more big-businesses who don’t care about your health.