From all-organic groceries to efforts to ban massive sodas, the clean food movement seems destined to shape how the next generation of our culture eats its three-squares per day. One obvious nag to this cultural shift, however, is that it oftentimes seems to skew against those with lower income. All organic means a heftier price tag, after all. Certainly more hefty than fast food and big gulps. A less obvious nag, and hopefully I am not speaking too specifically on behalf of the water filters company I happily represent, is that clean water is too frequently a forgotten soldier in the battle for clean food.
Fortunately, we can turn to Chef Sarah Bogan, who is throwing her influence behind both issues. Founder of Whisking Apprentice, a culinary school dedicated to fighting obesity in America, Bogan helps to teach everyone – including those of low income – how to cook nutritious, clean food for their entire families, regardless of budget.
I was lucky enough to speak to Chef Bogan about what inspired her to launch her business, her efforts to launch a TV version of her blog, S.O.S: Surviving on Stamps, and how clean food and clean water go hand-in-hand. Throughout this post, I have also included images of some of the dishes that Chef Bogan teaches her students how to make at her one-of-a-kind culinary school:
You’ve founded Whisking Apprentice culinary school, designed to teach everyone to cook nutritious and delicious meals – regardless of income – without sacrificing taste. Apart from a love of cooking, what inspired you to launch your business?
During college I realized cooking has become a lost art in the U.S. Few of my peers knew how to cook simple dishes, and their misconceptions about nutrition were troubling to me.
I saw a widespread need for education and decided to fill it with my culinary school for home cooks. The low-income aspect of my school stems from the fact that one in six Americans currently receive food stamps. Just a year ago, this number was one in seven!
You are currently seeking funding for a TV version of your blog, S.O.S: Surviving On Food Stamps. Would you please share a bit of an overview with our readers regarding what this program will entail week over week?
The purpose of the TV show is to teach people how to eat healthily on a tight budget. Each episode features a different family on food stamps struggling with malnutrition. In the majority of cases in the U.S., malnutrition results in obesity – a paradox many people do not realize.
My goal is to broadcast the show nationally on a non-cable channel so that people who cannot afford cable can still access the program. Throughout November I am raising funds on Indiegogo.com for the pilot episode. Once completed, I will submit the pilot to broadcasters already expressing interest. The more people who join in to help fight obesity, the healthier our nation will be.
While we have a ways to go in building awareness of the need to eat healthier foods, awareness does seem to be growing.
On the other hand, awareness of the need to drink and cook with clean water feels as though it’s a step behind. Why do you feel this may be the case?
Because most water in the U.S. is fairly tasteless and does not contain diseases that will immediately kill us, people do not realize there are still harmful waterborne contaminants in the dirty water spewing from their tap.
A scientific analysis of tap water reveals all of the impurities. Meanwhile, a simple taste test between tap and filtered, clean water is enough to tell us there really is a difference that guaranteed is affecting our health.
As a chef that focuses on healthy food, how would you describe the connection between the importance of clean food and clean water?
The axiom “you are what you eat” is so true. The contaminates we intake, whether by eating processed foods or drinking unfiltered tap water, are making us sick.
Cooking healthy food with contaminated water is better than eating out, but not ideal. Most Americans address their health by focusing on the symptoms such as excessive fat or acne. We need to shift our focus to the root of the issue – what we put in our body – and that will shine through to our physical appearance.
What advice would you provide to someone that knows they need to eat or drink healthier, but are just unsure of where to start?
Beverages are easier to switch than foods, but both are necessary adjustments. The first step is to eliminate soft drinks and greatly reduce juices. Replace them with tea or a cup of coffee made from purified, clean water. Start with a basic water filter to remove these avoidable toxins. [Ed. Recommendation: An InstaPure water faucet filter, like the model pictured above, is great basic and affordable water filter option.]
When it comes to clean food, a good rule of thumb is the less processed the better. Swap cereals with fresh eggs, powdered seasonings with herbs, bottled sauces with homemade versions. Avoid fast food. Instead, set aside a few hours to pre-prepare snacks or meals for the entire week. That way, when you are on-the-go you will not find yourself hungry and surrounded by tempting drive-throughs.
For quick and easy recipe ideas, visit SurvivingOnStamps.com. As always, feel free to contact me with questions – I have plenty of advice to share!
To help Chef Sarah Bogan ensure clean food and clean water are within reach of everyone, I encourage you to donate to her Indiegogo.com page to help make the S.O.S.: Surviving on Stamps TV show a reality.
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