Ziyu ~ The Pistachio Gourmet
This article is part of a series on The Chinese Changemakers, where I shine a spotlight on the young Chinese changemakers and community leaders. Today I believe we need a collaboration with the younger generation through their passion, their sense of duty to their families and communities and the urgency of our current climate crisis.
Through this series, you will follow my journey and go deeper into China and the wisdom she holds. How are the changemakers equipped for their future? How will they transform things for our common green future?
The journey is about friendship, passion, strong values, and authenticity.
I'm gonna be honest here from the get-go and say that I interviewed my dear friend Ziyu Lin 3 times for the KAILU project ... 3 TIMES!
I struggled to find the right questions, the right setting, the right angle to harness her essence, and what she represents. But! The third time worked like a charm.
I've known Ziyu for a couple of years now, and I really wanted her to be part of the project because I feel she represents a growing and impactful part of society here in China. Although she's not twenty anymore, Ziyu represents a big part of her generation who wants to be part of the change, of the future, in an active way.
An alignment is needed with her beliefs, her values, and her work.
Ziyu is driven by something. Although she may not always have the words to express it as such, I can feel the fire in her. She's relentless in her pursuit of bringing value to the world and having a significant impact through whatever she does. She's not scared of trying, learning, trying again, changing directions ...
You will read in her interview here below that she believes that freedom is as much in what you want to do as what you don't want to do.
Enjoy this conversation. It's a good one.
Prefer to read? The interview is below:
Tell me more about Chichio.
Chichio is a food brand that focuses on pistachio products. Our first product is pistachio butter. Basically, we take really nice pistachios to ground them into a nut butter form.
We are hoping to create more pistachio-based food products that are healthy and tasty at the same time.
We founded this brand last year, end of August 2021, actually. So it's been like less than half a year. Yeah, time flies.
Well, I've been eating all kinds of nuts since I was a kid. And I was always in love with pistachios. I could finish one bag by myself, you know, just nonstop eating pistachios.
And then, five or six years ago, I moved to Nanjing and my first flatmate was making energy balls with many kinds of nut butter and one of the nut butter she was using the most often was almond butter. That was when I first encountered a nut butter.
So I started to eat it too. I really I was really fond of it. Among all nuts that I liked, I couldn’t find pistachio butter. I so I was thinking, Oh, why? Why not? Why couldn't I find pistachio butter?
This idea came to me a long time ago, but I wasn't really moving forward with it. Life just carries on. In 2020, I started to taste different brands. And of course, I was fond of almond butter, cashew butter, and not so much hazelnut butter, they were quite sweet.
At the end of 2020, I started to think that this could be a business opportunity. I started to look for suppliers, I tried different ingredients and then different methods. I even bought a stone grinder to make it myself. And then that's how it developed. Like, very simply.
Pistachio, I would say it's a niche product. It's not very common. And also because among all nuts, pistachios are considered more of a premium nut. It's both a barrier to the market in terms of its price, but also it's an opportunity, yeah, to be positioned as a premium product.
Yeah, my connection with the pistachios is just that I love pistachios and anything made out of pistachios, including pistachio ice cream and other things. I love it. I'm not saying that all pistachios are good, but if they are well-made, they're good.
What is important to you? What is a strong value that you live by?
The value that comes to my mind immediately is very broad, it’s freedom. Well, probably, I think of this word because we are, at this time, not free to travel anywhere we want. So now we see this as a really precious thing, you know?
Freedom for me means choosing what you want to do and more importantly, what you don't want to do. Sometimes I think of it as a privilege, you know, but sometimes I think it takes practice to really be free because if you want to be free of others opinions, then you need to keep telling yourself: what is the thing you really want to do and what is the thing that others want you to do.
So if you don't communicate enough with yourself, you might be carried away so easily because you don't know what you really want to do. So I value this more and more in my life because when I was in my teenage years I didn't know what I wanted to study, but I just chose a major that most people think is good. So I studied business, but I don't know why. But anyway, no regrets.
Is there a specific person or moment in your life that has inspired you and shifted your point of view?
There was one experience that I think made me experience something that I had never had before, this one breathwork workshop.
My friends brought me in and it was a three-hour session of just breathing. You do all kinds of breathing exercises for two hours and long breaths, short breaths, …an instructor was there, of course. After I don't know how long, I started to cry so much, but I don't even know why.
My tears were coming down my face. I was crying and crying, and there was nothing in my head. I don't know what I was thinking, but I was just feeling so sad. Other people were laughing or they were shouting, you know, it was a way of letting out your emotions. And so after it was finished, I felt everything differently. It felt like I was reborn. Everything was so new, it was like you have a different pair of lenses.
I was so impressed by the whole experience. Because you are basically doing the most basic things in your life, you know?
Because you need to breathe every moment you're alive. But when you're really focused on doing such a simple thing. Life can be changed.
Yeah, I don't know why I mentioned this, but I think the lesson from this is that: If in everything we do, we can come back to the core. The whole world can change for you. So thank you for reminding me of this.
So to come back to the value of freedom. Someone that reminds me of the value that I want for myself, would have to be my dad. I think he has inspired me a lot.
When I moved to China I got to see him more often, even though we don't live in the same city.
I was surprised at how he can manage to live such a lonely life.
But the more I got to know him, the more I think he's not lonely. If you have a rich spirit, and what I mean by that is that you have a curiosity for life, for other people, for the world, you're not lonely.
And sometimes I think this is what I lack. Sometimes I can lose the curiosity for potentially interesting things, but I don't have an interest in them. I think what matters is that you don't need to live in a very fruitful world. What matters is how you look at the world.
You can live in the dullest city in the world, but you can have fun every day if you are fun. I still like Shanghai and what Shanghai has to offer, but what I'm saying is that in the end, it's all about yourself.
Yeah, so I wish I could be like him. I mean, I still think that to reach this level, I need to practice more. I'm not saying, he’s perfect. But in this regard, I think he has achieved a level that I aspire to.
I guess the people who can enjoy their life are people who can see the uncommon in the common.
What does the word harmony mean to you?
For me harmony means alignment. You cannot really inspire others if you don't believe it or if you don't practice it.
So for example, now with Chichio, we try to promote a healthier diet and lifestyle.
But the thing is that if I'm not really trying to eat healthier or live healthier, I cannot really work as a brand. As a company, we cannot inspire others to do so.
So I think that since creating this brand, I have been trying really hard to change my own routine. I'm trying to eat better, choose better foods and, sleep better, even though I'm not there yet. But it has given me a lot of reflections. I'm more aware of what should I be putting into my body and how healthy eating is really changing the way we live.
I think since I was a kid, I've been eating quite healthily. My mom has been cooking healthy food with no additives. Not too much sugar or salt or anything, but since living outside of the home as young teenagers or young adults, we don't care so much or we don't have the knowledge to identify bad foods from healthier ones.
It's really important that we start learning about how food impacts our body and our mind and the environment as well. Younger kids, even younger generations, some of them, might not even know what, let's say a chicken looks like. We are becoming more and more disconnected from the food we eat.
So I think this can be an opportunity to learn something that is vital for our life on the planet, for myself, for others, and in general. I think if we keep this in mind, it's beneficial for many.
Harmony is to be aligned with what you want, what you try to convey. I think everything comes with a message. So what I'm doing now, comes with a message. We want to create a healthy product, and that is a message for others because people are going to feel it. They're going to eat it and feel it.
And then if you don't create a product with a good message, the end result is not going to be good. This is what I believe.
Thank you for your time and attention.
I do not take it for granted.