A conversation about more than just food

In a nutshell, what is it that you do here?

We specialize in functional healing foods, meaning that every single ingredient we use has a healing function with the body. So that’s kind of our jam, it’s not just healthy, it’s kind of another level; we do a lot of medicinal food essentially.

You’re the founder? This is your baby?

Yup, this is my baby.

When did this start and what was the inspiration for you to personally invest in this?

I had spent a decade working in advertising in Toronto; it was really good but it wasn’t totally aligned with who I was as a person. When I fell into raw veganism, it honestly changed my life. I wasn’t aware of the power of food, so technically all of our food is raw/vegan, I just changed the language a little bit because I think sometimes there’s a stigma attached to that sort of thing. People don’t try it because they’re like I’m not vegan, but my cousin is vegan so I’ll tell them about it. So that’s why I don’t use that terminology. I was so inspired by the food that I ended up quitting my career and travelling. I went to Indonesia to study and then went down to Vancouver and drove down to Seattle to see what everyone else was doing. Do either of you know Elena Love?

No, should we?

She’s my guru! I learned everything from her. I studied under her for five weeks in Indonesia an intensive in raw veganism, which was amazing, and then I followed her to Sedona to facilitate another four weeks with her. This was in 2012.

So I did that, and everyone thought I was totally crazy by the time I was back. Then someone asked if I could make them food. Yeah sure! And then it kind of turned into a thing. I ran food in my old car for two years until we opened this.

For someone that might not understand how much food impacts our body, how would you explain to them what you mean by that?

Gosh, if only I could figure that out! It’s so hard to explain the power of food to somebody who hasn’t had the experience. I think that food can be medicine or it can be poison, and I often say that the challenge is that whether or not you’re aware of it, it’s still going to have the same effect. For many years I spent my days eating whatever I felt like I wanted to eat, and I was quite sick and wasn’t even aware I was sick. So I started eating raw/vegan because I thought it was novel to consume all of these veggies. I think if you can give yourself the opportunity to try, even just having an influx of green smoothies; no dairy; no coconut water; just vegetables; good fruit; some filtered water; maybe some seed/nuts. If you do that for seven days, you’re going to know what I’m talking about. I haven’t been able to articulate it in a way that impacts people in the same way as when people experience it for themselves. I know that’s not necessarily the answer, but I think it is an experience. I don’t think it’s a hard experience either.

Nicolle: Yeah…I live with a vegan [points to Chloe] and for me, it was a big change. But it’s interesting how my body naturally doesn’t gravitate towards that anymore, even when I’m alone. I feel naughty sometimes if I do order chicken or something, like Chloe’s going to smell it on me.

Here’s the thing, we have enough dogma on us as it is, we don’t need it with our food. Especially as women, every one of us carries a mild form of an eating disorder through high school and into adulthood and it’s the last thing we need for someone to continue to tell us as we get older: eat this, don’t eat this. And that’s the beautiful thing about this kind of food, I feel like it overrides weird neurosis you have about food because it’s healing your body.

Listen, it was all about Weight Watchers for a point in time, but I was still sneaking in chocolate bars and I looked like a bag of shit even though I was at my “target weight.” Now, I don’t give a shit about my weight, I don’t even know where my scale is; and that’s not reflective of how I was for a really long time. Even last night…I ate a sourdough pizza. Then I come into work, I eat my good food, and I’m happy. I’m not feeling guilty for eating the pizza. And I don’t know about you, but when I sit down to a beautiful, conscious, ethical meal and I think ‘no one got hurt making this, and it tastes delicious,' the level of satisfaction that comes from eating compassionately is unlike any other experience. Going even deeper, with politics and how food affects our environment, it feels good to know that every time you eat, you’re making a statement. You’re taking a stand, and making a change.

What’s the biggest difference now that you feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be?

Lately, there’s been this pendulum analogy that keeps coming up for me. Let me think about this for a second because I haven’t really talked about it publicly. I was so mad at myself and the ad industry for a really long time. I was doing what I was “supposed” to be doing: I went away for school, I got the big corporate job, and my mom was proud of me. And then I was kind of like what am I doing? But then I kept doing it for another ten years. The reason that I’m even here is because of that corporate experience, so to answer the question, I feel aligned to my principles but I want to go big. I think it’s the last piece for me, really getting down to business and taking that Lisa who used to wear heels, do her hair, and put on a show to get the job done, and the Lisa I am now with all of this, and bring them together. This whole business has literally been built from me, now I want to go get some money, I want to do this for real. I want to take this big.

It’s so interesting that you use the pendulum analogy because it’s been coming up a lot for us too, but in regards to feminism. We’re now trying to figure out like, is this man-hating? How do we involve men in this conversation? We’re trying to bring the conversation back to this middle ground.

It’s so funny that you say that. I used the analogy because I was having a feminist versus patriarchy discussion with someone last night and he’s convinced it’s gone in this extreme direction. But, I don’t think so because it’s not feminine. It’s not the true feminine way of being.

Did you go to any of the marches? There was no hatred, it was full of love and support. Men were carrying babies so women could hold signs. There was no man-hating. And you know it’s funny, half of the shit my guy friends can do that I can’t, I don’t want to do anyway. Brute strength is never going to be my thing, you know what I mean? It’s like, let them do what they like doing and let us do what we like doing, and let’s stop telling each other how to be, and appreciate each other for the attributes of the masculine and feminine. If a women wants to embody more of a masculine energy, she should be able to do that, and if a man wants to have a feminine energy, he can do that.

What kind of energy do you think you have?

I think it fluctuates. Last year I went to Shambala—the Buddhist retreat centre in the Rockies—I went for a week and there was a feminist conference going on with like 80 women; it was so remarkable. The retreat was based around the feminine divine, and how it’s really about the two energies merging into one whether that’s physically or within you or a partnership. I find that so fascinating. To answer your question, I think I fluctuate back and forth. There was a period in my life where I was much more masculine.

Do you think that maybe your advertising side was more masculine, while you taking on this business is more feminine, and now what’s missing is the merging of the two?

Oh my god, I’m all tingly. You’re going to make me emotional, that’s exactly what’s missing. An expression we have here is to be intuitive like a woman and then deal with it like a man. Right? Because sometimes as women, even though we know exactly what we want, we’re like oh sorry, excuse me. It’s so frustrating. Anyways, I’m working on that. 

You know, I get a lot of emails from people wanting to do interviews in exchange for food, but you guys had a vibe. I’m happy you’re here; I’m happy I didn’t ignore you.

See, that’s the thing, it would have been so easy for you to ignore us and it would have been easy for us to not reach out in the first place. But here we are, and we’ll see what comes of it.

No shit hey.