01/20/2011 01:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Visit to My Kitchen: Jared Koch

Jared Koch is in my kitchen today, talking about his transformed childhood sweet tooth, favorite spices in the kitchen, and his thoughts on the current biggest news story.

Jared is the coauthor of the Clean Plates guide (Craving Wellness, 2009 and 2011), the only nutritionist- and food critic-approved guide to the healthiest, tastiest, and most sustainable restaurants in New York, and founder of the group that goes by the same name.

Why is living organic important to you?

It's important to me for many reasons. I initially began living organic for personal health reasons, and as a way to limit my exposure to harmful chemicals. To me, it just makes sense to avoid potentially harmful substances whenever I reasonably can. I believe a lot of the chronic diseases in our culture are related to the poor quality of our food supply, and I am very motivated to convince other people to eat better. The more I learned about nutrition and organics, the more passionate I became about the importance of spreading the message to others and helping them to take action. I also believe it is important to live "organic" for the health of our environment, and for the health of future generations.

What was your favorite food growing up?

I had a big sweet tooth, so I would have to say candy, candy, and more candy. Especially the real tart stuff; like Sour Patch Kids and Sweet Tarts.

What's your go-to comfort food now?

This may sound weird, but I am happiest when I am eating any dish that includes a wide variety of deliciously prepared vegetables. I am not a vegetarian, so it may also include grass-fed meat; but to me, the ultimate eating experience is enjoying what I'm eating and simultaneously knowing that I am nourishing my body. There is no guilt and no feeling of sacrifice or depravity. I am truly comforted by my meal.

What's the one thing in your kitchen you just couldn't live without?

I tend to be a bit messy in the kitchen, so I'd have to say the cleaning towels. As far as food is concerned, I love herbs and spices, not just for their taste, but also for their health benefits. Cayenne pepper is probably the one I use the most.

What magazine, website, book, album, or product are you most obsessed with right now?

I hope this doesn't come across like a shameless promotion, but I have been pretty single-mindedly focused over the last two years developing and launching my new book and website (Clean Plates, I am very passionate about making it easier for people to find delicious healthy and sustainable food, and I'm committed to making that happen personally and professionally. I will say having my iPhone with me makes it much easier.

What's the most important news story today that you think we all need to pay more attention to?

We'd all probably be better off if we paid less attention to the news in general, but I think the most important story of our time (for those interested in eating organically) would be the 2012 Farm Bill. The policy backing it is being shaped now, so paying attention to it and getting involved is important.

Where do you get your news?

Some TV, but mostly online, and by talking with other people. I try and mix up the sources. I believe strongly in paying attention to multiple perspectives and opinions and then forming my own.

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