I began my food purism in the mid 1980s when all my peers were sumptuously sucking down soda with a red Twizzler “straw”—nowhere near any edible awakening for sure!
To formalize my food passion, I attended a not so traditional culinary school and proudly graduated in 1998 bright eyed, bushy tailed and utterly optimistic that people were ready to care about what they ate.
My naïve goal: To teach the world, one person at a time, about making healthier choices whether shopping for or cooking with food. So in early 1999 (after enduring years of being mocked by those around me for my edible outlook), I began my career by marching into a notable cancer hospital in New York City (that had just launched an integrative medicine program) begging to teach their patients about using food to get well and feel better. Starting with those who desperately needed to know nourishment made sense to me. My plea was met with, “Stefanie, great idea and this could be so useful to our patients but you don’t have any letters after your name.” More school?
I specifically remember calling my father after this discouraging meeting in tears, “Dad, as a trained chef I can’t even teach the people who need it the most. In the end, I don’t think anyone really cares about eating well. Maybe I should just pick another path. I feel so alone.” He replied, “This is your passion—don’t give up. You are ten years ahead of your time so expect to fall down many times but be sure to pick yourself up and keep going for eventually people will listen.”
I did go back to school subsequently acquiring many letters after my name—a true passion is hard to ignore. And whether during my graduate education or after, falling down and picking myself up became a regular thing. Despite, I never gave up. And thankfully, people are starting to listen…
I recently received the December 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition one of my favorite food, nutrition and health newsletters, to find this—Top 10 Diet Trends of 2014 (my favorite trends noted in bold):
- Expanding sustainability
- Protein is king
- Omega-3 frenzy
- Dairy-free drinks
- Slashing sodium
- Really “clean” eating
- Skimming sugar
- Gluten-free goes mainstream
- Global flavors expand
- Meat-free cuisine
According the article, “America’s interest in healthy eating is soaring, driving 64 percent of our daily food choices. And it is easy to see proof as you walk through the supermarket aisles—the demand for healthy food is higher than ever.”
While there still is a long way to go, the nation is nudging a little closer to an edible awakening. And not only does that make my heart smile but I no longer feel so darn alone!
So, what is your edible awakening for 2014? I will continue to learn, shout out and transfer my passion and knowledge to you. Stay tuned for more blogs, radio, maybe a little television and my book (being published by Tarcher/Penguin Random House this coming December).
And I vow to cultivate culinary passion in my children so maybe someday they can be change agents too (or just eat really healthfully)!