- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2002

Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land. One businessman is trying to bring the Promised Land to the people.
Tom Ciola, president of House of David foods, has created a line of Bible-based nutrition products, including the Bible Bar and the newly introduced Bible Granola, both made from the seven foods of Deuteronomy.
Mr. Ciola, who has been selling nutrition products for 30 years, started House of David in 2000. He said his interest in the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament prompted him to begin a line of Bible-based health foods.
The first product was the Bible Bar an organic nutrition bar that contains wheat, barley, raisins, honey, figs, pomegranates and olive oil, the seven foods of Deuteronomy.
"Our goal was to come out with a nutritional product that was built around these seven foods that God called 'good,'" Mr. Ciola said. God listed the foods to describe the Promised Land's fruitfulness to the Israelites.
Mary Sadlack, senior assistant manager of the gift shop at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the District, said the Bible Bars are popular.
"We sell them very well," she said.
Their success has prompted the gift shop's buyer to consider adding other House of David products to its inventory, Miss Sadlack said.
Sales of organic foods and beverages have been rising in recent years, climbing from $4.7 billion in 1999 to $5.6 billion in 2000, according to the National Nutritional Foods Association.
The $48 billion industry is expected to grow 6.2 percent from 2001 to 2003, according to the Nutrition Business Council.
Mr. Ciola, who donates 10 percent of House of David's profits to charity, is trying to change the way Americans eat, he said. He also has written a book, "Moses Wasn't Fat: A Biblical Guide To Health and Fitness."
"That's the whole message of House of David: to awaken people to the importance of what I call biblical nutrition principles," he said.
The company also has become a distributor for other businesses.
The company distributes products from Adrienne's Gourmet Foods, Galilee Splendor, Novia Nutritionals, Oskri Organics, Anke Kruse Organics and Crusador Enterprises. All of the products must be nutritious and free from added chemicals, and have some biblical connection.
The company is negotiating with several Israeli companies to distribute their products in the United States, including teas from the region and bottled water from the Jordan River.
"I have to wonder what it is about that soil and that geography," he said.
Mr. Ciola said the foods have nutritional and spiritual value.
"As I started to research this I found foods appear everywhere in the Bible, and they have great significance," he said.
Most Americans don't put too much thought into what they eat. But "eating is very sacred in the Bible," he said.
"We have drifted so far off the mark of how God has meant us to eat properly."
Mr. Ciola owns National Health Products, which he started several decades ago, spurred by his interest in bodybuilding.
But he initially had trouble marketing House of David's signature product, the Bible Bar.
He tried to sell it to religious bookstores and health-food stores, but many of the shops were unwilling to take on a product they thought commercialized the Bible.
But health-food stores, many of which carried other Ciola products, were receptive, and the bars "immediately started to sell," he said. Christian bookstores and religious shops warmed to the biblical nutrition concept and began carrying the bars and House of David's other products.
Now, Bible Bars and other House of David products grace the shelves of about 2,500 stores nationwide.
Mr. Ciola said he hopes his ideas will become more mainstream.
"We think this has the potential to become a very successful enterprise," he said. "I think someday there will be a whole subset in the heath-food industry called Bible foods."
His other company is a "multimillion-dollar-a-year" business, Mr. Ciola said, but he says House of David has the potential to eclipse its success.
"All the indicators are that it's a much more stable market," he said.
David Blackwell, grocery buyer for the Bethesda Co-Op, said the store sells a good number of the bars.
"It has its loyal base of people who've gotten hooked on it," he said.
Mr. Blackwell describes the taste as "sweet and tangy" and said he is slightly annoyed that the bars are a bit smaller than they used to be.
Mr. Ciola said he's not in it for the money.
"This is not a commercial venture here," he said. "This isn't about making money. To me, it's a ministry."

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