As a resident of the great Pacific Northwest, I cannot stress how much emphasis this region puts on all things local, organic and/or natural. Even a few years ago, Seattle’s motto was re-imagined as the singular phrase “Metronatural” which ended up sounding less like a tourism goldmine and more like a trendy new sexual orientation. Staying natural is also the reason I haven’t shaved my legs for a few months now. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m just preventing countless more disposable razors from ending up in our ever overflowing landfills.
In true Northwest form, the first product I’ll be reviewing is a largely organic energy bar that relies on fruit, nuts & seeds as the main source of fuel instead of caffeine, tiger’s blood and crack. Orchard Bars feature a gelatinous blend of fruit & nuts, the ubiquitous “soy nuggets” and flax seeds instead of the crumbly, cakey ingredients of a garden variety protein or granola bar. They’re also vegan, GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and preservative free as well as kosher, so no one is harmed by this product, except those who inevitably get a jagged flax seed stuck in between their molars and gums.
The folks at Liberty Orchards sent me five different Orchard Bars and media kit CD, complete with the history of their factory, based in the fertile crescent of Cashmere, Washington. Much like the Kashmir region made famous by a notable Led Zeppelin song, it’s a dry arid place nestled near a vast range of mountains (okay, the meager Cascades. Not quite the Himalayas).
Liberty Orchards’ most notable product is a Turkish Delight-esque jelly treat called Aplets & Cotlets. If you’ve ever had the experience of receiving a box of the famously infamous candy from your grandmother as a belated birthday present, think of Orchard Bars as its sophisticated cousin in a sleek bar form. I liken it to when companies reinvent products for a hip, modern crowd of folks, much like OK Soda or Bibles with guys skateboarding on the front.
The range of Orchard Bar flavors let you run the gamut in tasting all the the orchard has to offer. Cherry Almond Crunch is a tart and tangy bar with some crispiness provided by almonds and those aforementioned soy nuggets, the hippie alternative to the poor man’s Rice Krispies. Blueberry is both the dominant flavor and color in the Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond bar. You could even go as far as imagining it wearing some nice tight leather and brandishing a whip.
I personally found the Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut (or “Berry Delicious Bar” as I like to call it) the most savory and delicious of these three. It’s like there’s an orchard in my mouth and everyone’s invited to pick fruit for minimal wages! Plus the walnut chunks mellow out the ultra-sweetness that comes with the popular berry flavors.
While geographically impossible to come from “Washington State’s orchard country”, Banana Mango Macadamia & Pineapple Coconut Macadamia are the tropical representatives of the batch. I mean, we could even get technical and call them “Grove Goodies” or “Plantation Pleasures”, but then we start wandering into too politically correct territory. While I could hardly detect the banana flavors in the mango bar, the addition of the creamy, fatty nuts enveloped the tastes nicely. On the other hand, the Pineapple Coconut Macadamia is a tangy tropical bar that would give you an excuse to swig some rum and deem it a Pina Colada (plus I get a kick out of saying “fatty nuts”).
One thing to keep in mind is that the bars are all quite sweet, ranging from 18-19 grams of sugar per bar. I’m not quite sure if I got “natural energy” but more of a “concentrated fruit sugar high” after going through all five Orchard Bars within a just a couple hours. If I’ve learned anything from the emergence of all the energy products over the past few years, once you add enough sugar that’s in fruit, powdered, granular or syrup form, you can pretty much make anything body energizing, tooth decaying and delicious all in one fell swoop.
(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer – We received the Orchard Bars for free from the PR firm that represents Liberty Orchards. Orchard is such a funny word, isn’t it? (Insert a naughty World of Warcraft joke here.))
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 bar (1.6 oz/45g) â€“ Cherry Almond Crunch â€“ 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 gram of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Banana Mango Macadamia â€“ 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond â€“ 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia â€“ 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut â€“ 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)
Item: Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars (Cherry Almond Crunch, Banana Mango Macadamia, Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond, Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia, Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut)
Size: 1.6 ounces
Purchased at: Received for free from PR firm
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Cherry Almond Crunch)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Banana Mango Macadamia)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut)
Pros: Natural energy that tastes good. Protein, omega-3s and vitamins. Nuts in my mouth. Vegan if you swing that way. Led Zeppelin singles.
Cons: Might be too sweet for some. Hairy female legs. Flax seed related dental issues.