I took a quick break from my liveblogging to interview Kip Stroden and Amrit Khalsa of Essential Living Foods (which oh-so-adorably acronyms into ELF. And yes, I just used "acronym" as a verb.) ELF (as I will continue to call it for the remainder of this post) is what Kipp likes to call a "Super Food Company" -- super foods being any foods that are full of antioxidants or high in nutritional content. [In other words: super foods are foods that I am probably not eating. And also, in case you're wondering (because I was), an antioxidant is - in layman's and/or Kipp's terms - "something that prevents oxidation of the body." And oxidation is BAD.] Anyway, Kipp, Amrit, and ELF were gracious enough to donate their time, effort, and sustainable sustenance to keep all those working in and passing through the Oasis well-fed and feeling good.
They were also gracious enough to let us film them at work and while interviewing, so I'll start you off with that.
And here's more of what Kip and Amrit had to say...
So, how did you get your healthy eating start? Or have you just always been this way?
Kipp: I've been eating healthy most of my life. My mom went macrobiotic when I was 12 and began feeding us macrobiotic food. And my mother is such an exceptional chef that everything tasted so good. My sister and I just immediately felt better - we both lost weight and felt energized - so we were quick converts. And I've been eating health food, mostly organic food ever since then!
Amrit: I became a vegetarian in college - mostly due to health reasons - but for environmental and ethical ones as well. I got into yoga and the practice and then became a yoga teacher. After graduate school [Ed Note: Where he got a PhD in aeronautical engineering. What?!] - I got interested in business and so I went to work for Golden Temple - the yogi tea and cereal brand. So, that's how I got into the natural foods arena,and then a year ago I came to Essential Liiving Foods.
Do you ever take a break from your healthy lifestyle?
Kipp: Absolutely! I eat unhealthy food from time to time. Like, if I eat a slice of pizza, I'll eat a huge salad with it. It's all about taking things step by step and not being an extremist. Eat as much fresh foods and super foods as you can in the day, and then it's not so bad when you stray a bit.
What's your go-to bad food?
Kipp: Pizza - I'm from New York City so pizza is in my DNA. And chocolate chip cookies. But that's only a couple times a year.
Do you have any advice for people who want to eat healthy but are concerned about budget?
Amrit: I think that when people look at the price of fruits and vegetables - they're saying, "Apples per pound cost this," but they're thinking of it in addition to all the processed stuff they're buying. So of course that seems like extra money. But macaroni and cheese and all those cheap processed foods are actually going to end up costing you more per nutritional serving.
So, get rid of the processed food and replace some of those bad things with good things.
Kipp: The least expensive way to eat is to buy fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, bulk grains - buy a 25lb of rice, and beans. And always, if you can, shop at a farmer's market.
A great, cheap lunch would be fresh salad with raw vegetables - think dark greens, avocado, carrots, onions. Then squeeze fresh lemon juice on it, drizzle some olive oil. And then I'd have some basmati rice on the side with some dhal - which is a lentil stew.
You guys travel all over the world to find these "Super Foods" - what's the coolest trip you've taken, and why?
Kipp: Well for me, it was a recent trip to make a presentation to the Achuar people, an indigenous tribe that lives in the Amazon on the border of Equador and Peru. It took almost 3 and a half days of travel from La to get to this village, called Washintsa. They don't speak English or Spanish, they live in thatch huts - the men wear these awesome feather head-dresses.
Essential Living Foods imports forest-grown wild peanuts from the Achuar. We sell those raw and they're free of aflotoxins and fungus and molds - and those are the things that make people allergic to peanuts.
We buy directly from the Achuar and in that way we're supporting their community. The money goes directly to them. The food goes directly from the forest to the shelves. There is no middle man.
We pay them in cash which it allows them to have non-destructive employment that still brings some income into their tribe. And that's important because they need cash for their school and their teachers, because education is the most important, and then a bit for fuel and ammunition for hunting.
What's the most important thing you'd want readers to know about ELF?
Kipp: People should know that eating organic and vegetarian is one of the biggest contributions they can make towards healing the planet. And even if its just reducing the amount of animal products you eat - that helps reduce global warming. And, of course, to remind people that you are what you eat.
Amrit: I want people to be healthy physically from eating our foods, but I also want to have a healthy business. I like the fact that we're sustainable - that's important and central to our mission, but also in in a business-sense. I want to have a company that will survive and progress and grow and set an example. Business is a vehicle for social change. Businesses need to be a part of the solution - capitalism and economics not just need to but can help solve the world's problems.