Crazy D’s, the all-organic, guilt-free soda brand from Scarborough, is going mainstream. First found in Toronto specialty markets such as the Big Carrot and Whole Foods, and in niche eateries like the Copper Branch vegan restaurant, Darren Portelli’s prebiotic craft products are doubling their distribution. They’ve just slipped into 50 of the city’s Metro grocery stores. By the end of May, they’ll also be in 50 Sobeys. “We were in under 100 stores. We’re about to hit 200 stores,” Portelli said last week at the Crazy D lab, a unit he’s rented for two years in a looping, mid-Scarborough industrial street called Barbados Boulevard.
Knowing about the role of probiotics and beneficial bacteria of the gut has become common knowledge amongst the holistic health community and even in the medical field. Everyone is chatting gut health, and how to replenish the gut with the best probiotic supplements and with the use of some of our favorite foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kefir, and kimchi. Heck, people are even brewing their own kombucha from home these days using their very own Scoby.
“Healthy pop” may seem like an oxymoron, but Portelli found his way to soda as a matter of personal well-being. After many years of living with mental health issues, he started to experiment with his diet. Like a growing number of researchers, Portelli had a hunch that what’s good for the gut is also good for the brain.