Jason Thomas, founder of Hunter Gatherer Natural Foods, is on a mission to introduce the pili nut to North America. He stumbled upon this amazing nut while in the Philippines chasing waves, and he was so blown away by the rich, buttery flavor that he decided to start sharing it it with everyone he knew. Since Jason’s early days traveling the west coast selling pili nuts out of the back of his 1989 Toyota truck, his operation has been refined, but his entrepreneurial spirit remains the same. We hope you enjoy these unique nuts as much as we do and join us on our mission to spread their amazing taste and health benefits.

Jason’s honed his spirit for adventure during his rambunctious upbringing in North America’s northernmost point (Barrow, Alaska), where he worked on arctic construction projects, and hunting in the tundra and fishing the open seas with Native Alaskans. Additionally, Jason served as a high-altitude mountain guide, an archaeologist’s assistant, a commercial fisherman, a kite-surfing instructor, a glaciology field hand, and a climbing bum.

The rough-and-tumble experiences of Jason's early years led him to travel around the globe, exploring its beautiful, diverse landscapes and cultures.

Through his adventures he traveled everywhere from the tip of Alaska to the beaches of Hawaii; from the desolate mountains of Patagonia to the most vibrant cities in Europe; and from the deserts of Morocco to the jungles of Southeast Asia.

On a kite-surfing mission to a little-known break in the Philippines, Jason grabbed a handful of pili nuts and embarked upon his newest adventure: Sharing sprouted pili nuts with North America.

Raw pili fruit: how all sprouted pili nuts begin

After his first trip to the Philippines, Jason returned to the U.S. with 15 pounds of deep-fried pili nuts. He spent the next few months driving from beach to beach in his swiftly aging truck, surfing waves while shaking hands and passing out pili nut samples at natural foods stores up and down the west coast.

Jason’s first sale came when he hand-packed a dozen bags, walked into a natural foods market, and asked the manager whether he wanted to try selling wild pili nuts. After taking a few bites, Hunter Gatherer Natural Foods had its first official customer.

Selling a deep-fried food didn’t feel quite right to Jason, and he didn’t think he could continue unless his product was married with his own healthy living philosophy.

Prior to traveling to the Philippines, Jason was living in Los Angeles as a committed Crossfit athlete. While riding his bicycle to work, Jason crashed and separated his shoulder and later developed Rhabdomyolyses. After a 6-day stint in the hospital, Jason returned home, but not as the same healthy, energetic athlete he once was. He decided that it was time to abandon his diet of highly processed foods and adopted the Paleo diet and intermittent fasting as a healing method, and came to view healthy eating as an essential part of a happy lifestyle. As a result, he returned to the Philippines to develop his own, healthy pili nut recipe.

Jason forged a lasting relationship with locals in the Philippines and together they brought the concept of the sprouted pili nut into reality. The sprouted pili nut allowed Jason to combine his love for the pili nut’s buttery flavor with his passion for healthy living. When he brought the sprouted pili nut back to the U.S., his existing customers were amazed by the health benefits that could come with the delicious flavor they already enjoyed.

Since the first shipment of wild sprouted pili nuts traveled with Jason across the Pacific Ocean, we have been amazed and humbled by the diverse range of people who enjoy pili nuts. Jason originally envisioned Hunter Gatherer Natural Foods to be a company that would cater to outdoor endurance athletes like himself — the extremely high oil content of pili nuts makes them a great energy source for long distance events. However, in the last two years, pili nuts have gained huge popularity among people on the ketogenic diet for weight loss, medical, or general health reasons.

The pili nut’s surge in popularity has allowed Jason to move his small business out of the back of his truck and into an office in Bend, Oregon filled with thousands of pili nuts, stacks of surfboards and mountaineering gear, and plenty of enthusiasm. Jason’s spirit of adventure shines through in everything we do on a daily basis. We hope you enjoy the pili nut as much as we do, and join us in sharing pili nuts with North America!


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