Healthy and tasty aren’t synonymous. Steep Hill Solutions, the maker of Omega Crunch shelled flax, wants that to change.
Brent Larson, president of Steep Hill, appeared on the CBC TV show Dragon’s Den Nov. 8. He went into the den offering 25 per cent of his company for a $50,000 investment. Larson came out alive, unscathed and with a deal: he got the money, but gave up 50 per cent of his company to Boston Pizza chairman and owner Jim Treliving.
The “Hali-flax” based company launched Omega Crunch in 2007 with Larson and his wife Jill selling it at the Historic Farmers’ Market in the Keith’s Brewery and at Saltscapes East Coast Expo trade show. It is now sold in more than 180 stores across Canada.
Larson didn’t go to Dragon’s Den for just the money. “I really wanted to just get someone’s raw opinion and it happened to be on national television,” he says.
Omega Crunch is a shelled flax: it comes in two flavours (roasted maple and roasted garlic) and is packaged like a large spice shaker.
In a video on Youtube, Larson’s young daughter Gracie, dressed in a pink princess costume, is seen sprinkling roasted maple flax on top of cream cheese sand dollar cookies.
The convenient shakers are on tables in six restaurants in Canada, including the Ardmore Tea Room on Quinpool Road in Halifax. Larson wants to see Omega Crunch on every table top in the
country. “Our product is a simple product that can fit into families’ lives and make a difference in their lives by giving them a healthier option for their meals. We’re not going after the healthy, healthy crowd. Anybody can use our product and feel better about themselves.”
Flax is full of omega-3 fatty acids that provide health benefits for the heart, lower blood pressure and more. Other pros include the dietary fibre and protein from the flax shell. It is also gluten free and is a non-GMO (genetically modified organism) product.
Canada is the world’s number one producer and exporter of flax — in 2005/06 Canada produced 1.035 million tonnes. Omega Crunch flax comes from Manitoba and is distributed from New Minas, Nova Scotia. The maple roasted flax uses maple syrup from Nova Scotia and Ontario, while the garlic in the garlic roasted flax is from California. Larson is looking to add a new flavour this spring.
Pete’s Frootique on Dresden Row was the first store to carry Omega Crunch. Pete’s now sells the most Omega Crunch of any store in Canada.
“Our customers have really come to know it in our stores,” says manager Holly Chmelyk. She uses the maple roasted flax on her cereal and yogurt, and eats it because it is healthy and it tastes good.
Lianne Perry has been eating Omega Crunch for more than a year. She met Larson at his booth in the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and bought both flavours of shelled flax. “I put it in everything,” says Perry, “from sprinkling it with soft cheese and bread or even putting it in cooked dishes — I put it in literally everything. Casseroles, when I do my spicy lentil … It is a really versatile product and they’re both really tasty and they’re really good for you.”
“I really believe in our product,” said Larson. “It’s a good product. I talk about flax everywhere I go now.” The header on the Omega Crunch website screams “Flax on everything!”
Who knows? Soon you could be sprinkling roasted garlic flax on your Boston Pizza. Yum.
What is flax?
Flax is one of the five major crops produced in Canada. It is grown on the prairies.