Food for Thought?

Intelligent Nutrients
2947 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis;
(612) 822-9848

Hours: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sundays and Monday


Teddy Maki

Made some New Year's resolutions? Maybe you want to lose weight? Maybe you want to reduce stress? Maybe you just want more happiness? Not sure how to go about achieving such goals? Well, here's an idea: Sell the kids, hock the furniture, pawn the drapes, and take all the coin you gather over to Intelligent Nutrients, the coffee shop/juice bar/herbal-supplement seller/healing-jewelry store/elixir vendor/smoothie operation that opened on the corner of Lake and Hennepin last June.

I don't really know that you'll find inner peace or lose weight for your troubles, but I'll eat my hat if you don't learn something useful about yourself in the process. Actually, my hat would be a nice change of pace for me--at least it's not an intellihat. For the last two weeks I've been drinking Intelligent Nutrients elixirs made of fruits, nuts, soy, and milk of cow, rice, or soy enhanced with such ingredients as "intellicalm," "intellitrim," "intelliderm," "aquabalance," "proactive," "innerharmony," and "daily cheer." Yes, I've been drinking daily cheer.

All these ingredients, and many, many more, are available to you at the Intelligent Nutrients counter, either in caplets (daily cheer costs $34.95 for 60 caplets, or about 58 cents a cheer), or mixed in to "elixirs," for 40 cents a pop. Elixirs are available in such flavors as mixed berry, made with frozen "in-season" berries (blackberries and strawberries on my visit), apple juice, agave nectar, vanilla extract, your choice of milk, and anatomy® non-GMO (genetically modified organism) soy-protein powder. Papaya cashew is made of papaya, apple juice, cashew butter, agave nectar, a choice of milk, and anatomy® non-GMO soy-protein powder. Essential Green Tea Ginger is made with green tea, ginger, agave nectar, apple juice, a milk, and anatomy® non-GMO soy-protein powder. For what it's worth, the green-tea-ginger is my favorite. It has a sharp ginger bite and a nice earthy base from the tea.

Am I healthier, wealthier, or wiser after all this straw-jockeying? Well, definitely not wealthier: These elixirs all cost $4.75, or $5.06 with tax. Add in a couple of supplements, and you're looking at a $7 smoothie. (That's what they'd call these things, in a less smooth environment.) Healthier? I couldn't really say. I noticed no particular change in my intellect, cheer, or anatomy except for--ladies, cover your eyes!--a definite brightening of my urine. Wiser? Oh yes. Much, much wiser. In oh so many ways.

First, let us all stand back and whistle at the genius of Intelligent Nutrients founder and owner Horst Rechelbacher. Rechelbacher, of course, is the man nearly single-handedly responsible for putting pasture, garden, and forest where people could really appreciate them--in their hair. He started Aveda in the 1970s, putting organic plant elements in shampoo and cosmetics. In 1997 he sold Aveda for $300 million to Estée Lauder, and the rest of the cosmetic universe was so dazzled by his vision that couch-bound Americans everywhere were condemned to endure commercials starring those Herbal Essences loud-orgasm-women.

What was invisible to the naked eye is that in 1995, while Rechelbacher was growing Aveda and generally enhancing the reputation of leaves and roots, he started Intelligent Nutrients. The natural-supplement market was well on its way to becoming, by some published estimates, a $6 billion-a-year industry. Yet sadly, as any one who's been to a health-food store to pick up a bottle of echinacea can tell you, most supplement hawkers are severely lacking when it comes to branding, package design, or general point-of-sale pleasure.

Call those dark days done! Now Intelligent Nutrients is poised to be the Chanel, Gucci, and Armani of supplements, selling the same old thing that everyone else does--green-tea pills, multivitamins, blends of multivitamins with additives like echinacea and ginseng--in elegant blister-packs nestled in chic boxes. Or in powder, added to elixirs.

Which is too bad. The original reports of what Intelligent Nutrients would be sounded far sexier than the sterile thing that perches in Uptown: Last December Harper's Bazaar reported that Intelligent Nutrients had already opened a " ultracool smoke-free bar where you can get herbal tonics served in martini glasses....Before getting served a drink, customers have to fill out questionnaires to determine their dosha (personality type) and chakra (energy center) most in need of balancing. Wunderbar tenders then prescribe a tonic just for you." In reality, the place didn't open for another seven months, and in the real-life store there are no martini glasses, no questionnaires, and nowhere to settle in for drinks with friends. Just expensive tonics and sachets in a corner boutique full of prosodic gobbledygook.

And not just any gobbledygook. In my opinion, Intelligent Nutrients should win a special prize from the Pulitzer people for luxurious enhancement of the language. For example: Whither Intelligent Nutrients? One pamphlet explains it thus: "For the last 35 years, our founder has searched the planet for active plants and minerals for health and wellness. Years of experience, indigenous inspiration and the latest high-tech medical research have culminated in effective formulas that support your body's optimal functioning. We choose only the highest quality plant sources, constantly striving for 100 percent organically grown ingredients and request our ingredients be tested to make sure they are safe and free of harmful chemicals." Active plants? Indigenous inspiration? They request that their ingredients be tested? And what if the supplier declines the request?

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