If you’ve had one of our Grain Bowls, you know we love our Quinoa here at Splendid Spoon. Hello, plant-based protein! The benefits are vast. But where does our Quinoa come from? We want to take you behind our bowls to introduce you to SIMPLi, our Quinoa supplier! We sat down with the team at SIMPLi to get to know their team, their process, and how their Quinoa travels from their farms to our tables!

SIMPLi works with producers who use regenerative farming practices to bring sustainable, high-quality ingredients from around the world.

“I have been a quinoa producer since my grandparents, since my father. And what has always motivated me is that we can show this Andean grain to the world and not only benefit ourselves in the Puno region. That is why I am helping more districts, more communities to organize themselves, to get involved in this entrepreneurial work and to market their products at better prices throughout the Puno region,” – Mario Miranda, SIMPLi’s community manager in Peru.

SIMPLi was founded by Sarela Herrada and Matt Cohen in 2020. Sarela was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Back home, her parents owned and operated a chicken co-op on the outskirts of Lima. From a young age, Sarela learned the hard work behind and unfairness of the farming industry. Sarela moved to the US in 2006 where she focused her career in supply chain and food management. She has always been passionate about fighting food fraud while supporting farming communities worldwide. Now at SIMPLi, Sarela works directly with internationally protected Indigenous growing communities to create long-term relationships that benefit both farmers and customers.

Matt was born and raised in Annapolis, MD. He developed an entrepreneurial spirit having multiple small businesses growing up as a child. Entrepreneurship was further instilled in him as he helped with his family businesses including connecting small farmers on the eastern shore with regional grocery chains and managing pawn shops throughout the DMV area. His passion lies in disrupting antiquated industries through technology and driving significant, long-term impacts to communities around the world, which is the core of his work at SIMPLi.

Rene, our Director of Food Innovation, says of the partnership, “We partner with SIMPLi for several reasons. First, we prioritize supporting women-owned businesses. We also align with SIMPLi's mission to build a more equitable supply chain. Additionally, most quinoa is not ethically sourced, and we appreciate the transparency around how SIMPLi procures their quinoa. Lastly, we believe in supporting regenerative farming to restore our planet's resources.”

Splendid Spoon: Tell us about the journey of SIMPLi Quinoa from farm to our Splendid bowls!

SIMPLi: SIMPLi sources its organic quinoa directly from farming communities in Andahuaylas in the Apurímac Region and from the Andes mountains by Lake Titicaca in the Puno Region of Peru. 78% of Peru’s quinoa is produced in this region.

SIMPLi’s community manager Mario Miranda works closely with the producers and SIMPLi’s Director of Quality Assurance Jesus Infantes to ensure our quinoa meets our quality standards through regular visits to the farming communities.

Our quinoa is harvested once per year. The harvesting is done by hand, using ancient methods that have been passed from generation to generation, where growers use a scythe tool to cut down the quinoa plant by hand. The seeds are then separated from the plants using a process called threshing, and then spread on a tarp to dry in the sun. Once dried, the seeds are sifted to remove any grass or debris. After sifting, the seeds are inspected and placed in SIMPLi bags and then transported to SIMPLi’s warehouse in Lima, Peru, where they are washed, dried, and then packaged and shipped to SIMPLi’s warehouse in the US in Baltimore, MD.

In the final step of the process, SIMPLi delivers their quinoa to Splendid Spoon's makers, who then incorporate the ingredient into our delicious meals; Kimchi Fried Quinoa Bowl, Red Beet Quinoa Bowl, Aloo Gobi Grain Bowl, Vegetable Bolognese Bowl, Roasted Brussels Sprouts Grain Bowl, and Tomato Quinoa Chili Soup.

Splendid Spoon: What is regenerative farming?

SIMPLi: Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

Regenerative agricultural practices come from traditional and Indigenous practices from throughout the world and are a result of individuals farming as part of the natural system.

For example, when quinoa is not growing, it is rotated with Lupini beans, oats, and potatoes.

Splendid Spoon: How does regenerative farming help the environment?

SIMPLi: Regenerative agriculture restores our planet’s resources rather than depleting them, while also improving farming communities. Conventional agriculture contributes a significant share of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change – 17% directly through agricultural activities and an additional 7-14% through land use changes, according to the OECD. By implementing regenerative agricultural practices, SIMPLi has optimized its operation to limit carbon footprint.

Splendid Spoon: You say that that Sarela is passionate about fighting food fraud, we’d love to learn more about that!

SIMPLi: The global food supply chain has taken financial advantage of the farmers that grow our food, and the consumers who receive fraudulent ingredients positioned as "single origin" and “organic.” Mistrust in food labels extends to more than 50% of consumers, with food fraud costing consumers an estimated $30 to $40 billion every year from the global food industry.

After seeing firsthand how much fraud occurs in the global supply chain, Sarela and Matt launched SIMPLi to create a more transparent, honest, sustainable, and streamlined food supply chain.

SIMPLi’s regenerative organic program ensures its ingredients are ethically sourced, sustainably grown, and 100% authentic. One of SIMPLi’s first products was extra virgin olive oil, because oil is the ingredient category most subject to fraud. Upwards of 70-80% of bottles sold commercially are fraudulent.

Splendid Spoon: How does your supply chain work to simplify the process of each product?

​​SIMPLi: SIMPLi’s fully vertical supply chain ownership & traceable technology allows us to follow the product’s journey from farmer to customer.

Using sensory technology, every container is sealed with traceable locks, part of which is kept at the country of origin with its own unique coding. Since the lock is kept on the container until arrival, SIMPLi is able to track products from end-to-end of the supply chain using GPS and sensor technology.

SIMPLi has full control of the inventory from farm to export, in which it is sealed with a unique identifier lock that is only accessed by government officials and the SIMPLi team upon destination. Our radically transparent model shows exactly what phase of the supply chain each product is in while also tracking quality metrics within the products.

You can find SIMPLi quinoa in several of our fave Splendid Bowls: Kimchi Fried Quinoa, Tomato Quinoa Chili Soup, Aloo Gobi Quinoa, and more. Want to try them for yourself? Get started today! Want to learn more about SIMPLi? Visit their website!