Neman: East meets West at St. Louisan’s Karuna Beverages | Food and cooking

The herbal healing part comes from time-honored Asian wisdom about the need to keep a balance in life. Ginger, for instance, is used in some Karuna varieties because it is warm in nature and is used to promote energy; it can prevent cold-related diseases, the theory goes, and also balances “cold-nature” ingredients such as spinach and lemon.

The science and the herbal remedies all come together in Zeng’s philosophy that “food is better medicine” (a 2006 book by Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne was called “Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs”).

“Hopefully, if you lead a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid getting sick,” she said, adding that she was specifically talking about lifestyle-related illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes.

After completing her post-doctoral research, Zeng returned to St. Louis with her husband, an oncologist now at Mercy Hospital. She received her MBA from Washington University and went to work at KV Pharmaceutical — on the business side, she was quick to point out, working on marketing, strategic planning and the like.

When she had her second child, she realized she needed some flexibility in her routine, so she went to work for a Chinese apple-juice concentrate company that wanted to make inroads in America.

“That allowed me to learn the beverage industry,” she said, and at the same time she unintentionally began learning about making juice. As the unofficial company translator for documents such as Food and Drug Administration requirements, she picked up information about beverage production.

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