Written by Evolve Holistic Co-Founder, Lilian Motta
At Evolve Holistic we are passionate about spreading the message of self-love and in order to accomplish that mission we are teaming up with the “crème de la crème” in every industry to give our community the best guidance in their self-care journey. We are excited to grow our collective with amazing experts that will be sharing information and tips about various self-care essentials, here we are introducing the Master Plant Based Chef and Nutrition Expert from The Healing Cuisine.
Joanne Gerrard Young is an international chef, holistic nutritionist, health educator and mother. She is a leader in the organic and non-gmo food movements. Her mission is to teach people that healthy food can be delicious and fulfilling and to raise awareness of the amazing healing, clarifying and energizing powers of whole organic foods. I had the pleasure of having a little Q&A with Joanne Gerrard Young from The Healing Cuisine so read below to get a little scoop!
Lilian from Evolve Holistic (EH): What is your earliest memory with food? Did you have any interest in it when you were a little girl?
Joanne: Absolutely! I would always hang out in the kitchen with my grandma, my earliest memories would be making little jam tarts. I remember they would take forever to cook so I began to make mini-version because I knew I can get them within minutes.
EH: What drove you to the food industry?
Joanne: It wasn’t like I grew up knowing I was going to be a chef although I always loved being in the kitchen. When I was about 15 my father told me I should go to school in Cordon Bleu in France and my response was “Dad, chefs stand all day long, there is no way I am going to be a chef.” Even after that comment my interest and jobs were always around food.
EH: How about Raw food?
Joanne: When I was living in Costa Rica superfoods grow on trees I had my own Restaurant and raising 2 boys it felt more like a stress-taurant so I closed it down to balance my life a little more. I went to work in other various positions but I was not happy and felt lost, one day I simply surrendered and asked the universe for help; I wanted to do something I was passionate about and that helped people and the universe. That afternoon I had a friend knock on my door and she said “Jo I really want to do a juice cleanse but I want you to do it with me. I don’t feel great and we are trying to get pregnant.”
I was not in the place to do a cleanse but she kept insisting so I said, “Ok we will do it but first we need to go raw to transition.” We did a 7 day cleanse and her and her husband were feeling great, she was pregnant within a month. After that there was about a 8 month period where I had about 6 people a week doing a cleanse program and it was a little town so it wasn't long until everyone had done it. I started to do a raw food menu and had lots of orders but that was a lot of work so I decided to teach. People loved it and it was changing people’s lives so it was exactly what I wanted in my life so I made it my business.
EH: What was your first food/nutrition related job?
Joanne: My first job was at “Mother’s Pizza” at the take out window making pizza and chicken wings when I was 14 years old.
EH: Who are the people in your industry that you look up to?
Joanne: In the beginning Martha Stewart and Wok with Jan- an old school show. My mentor Viktorus Kulvinskas co- founder with Ann Wigmore of the Hippocrates Institute, he is godfather of raw food and an incredible light being that touches people’s lives and he is very inspiring to me. I also learned from the father of raw food - Dr Ariz LaTham, he has an honorary doctorate in raw food.
EH: How has food impacted your own healing or those close to you?
Joanne: My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago, stage 4 triple negative so it was very serious. I was living in Costa Rica at the time and I would skype with her everyday and I would tell her, “please mom, we have to clean up your diet”. My mother always ate well, she didn't eat red meat, always ate vegetables and never had any junk food in the house (as a kid that is why I was always at my friend’s haha). So I put her through a cleanse program, got her on a vegan organic diet and we did some healing meditations with her. She interviewed 80 women to make her decision about her treatment plan, she ended having a mastectomy but did not have chemotherapy. When she told her oncologist that she would not be getting the chemo he told her she was “crazy!”
She has not had any cancer since and that doctor ended up apologizing to her because she was able to recovered. I think people should have a choice on the treatments they choose with their body and I am there to support them whatever that choice is.
EH: What inspired you to start The Healing Cuisine?
Joanne: I was working in BC and I had been running a juice bar in Whistler and then I was pregnant with my first boy. I ended up running my own business after maternity and my friend who was a herbalist opened up a beautiful herb shop, “The Herbal Emporium”. At the time I was catering my own business called “Jo-Mama's Cooking” catering events and coffee shops. My friend had a little corner space at her shop and she asked me if I wanted to open a little cafe and that is where The Healing Cuisine was born in 2000.
EH: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges people have in relation to food (or some of the issues)?
Joanne: It is so heavily over processed, so many additives that are addictive and we are always eating on the run. We are not making a connection and eating mindfully. Having gratitude towards the food that we eat makes it more healing, those intentions change the molecules of the food to give it more life energy.
EH: What have been some of the changes you have seen using food as medicine?
Joanne: Food is healing and we are very separate from that in our world today. I have seen lots of changes, it takes about 2 weeks to start to notice a difference. I had a client who came to me with terrible skin and back pain, she was in her early 30s and it was just not nice for her to live that way. She came to Costa Rica, did a 7 day cleanse with me and then took my basics course. She went back to New York City and a few months later she wrote to me. She said “It is so easy to eat raw and organic in New York City. My skin has cleared and my back pain is gone. I am so grateful, thank you so much!” She wrote me back a month later and said “You will not believe this, my gray hair is growing back black” and that to me meant that she stopped oxidizing her body.
EH: What are the different ways that you are changing the relationship people have with food? (education, classes, courses, certifications)
Joanne: When I became a Master Raw Food my mentor told me that I must share this knowledge. I work with the institute of Holistic Nutrition, with the co-op students and I realized that they do not get too much hands-on food experience. That seems to be the case for most people so the missing link for people in general is that people know they need to eat vegetables but they do not know how to get it on their plates. I want to show people to think beyond the salad, it can actually be really simple, fun and uncomplicated to make delicious healing foods. So the raw food certification is not necessarily about becoming raw it is more how to integrate living foods into your diet. I do a lot of one-on-one work as well, a lot of parents whose kids are going vegan and they do not know what to do or people that get sick and need to change their diets. Also people going vegan themselves that want to eat more than bread, cucumbers and tomatoes, so to give them something more to look forward to.
EH: What are you most excited about for the upcoming winter reset retreat in Costa Rica?
Joanne: Costa Rica! On a retreat or not it is so grounding and healing to be there, you are ionizing with the ocean air, drinking loads of fresh water and eating tropical fruit; it is just such a healing and reviving atmosphere. You are surrounded by beauty and nature.
EH: What is one self care tip you have for our viewers on how to evolve nutritionally?
Joanne: Thinking about nutrition and evolution as a society the most evolved change you can do in your life besides my number one thing which is adding more water is cutting out red meat, beef in particular for your own health reasons and the for the planet. It takes 50 gallons of water to raise one burger, they are cutting down one acre of rainforest to raise soy to feed cow. The impact of eating beef in the environment is worse than the impact of car emissions. I do not tell people to go vegan, people need to eat what their body needs but I think this is an important first step to cut out red meat or be more aware of where they get it from.
Stay tuned for Joanne’s classes and Retreats with Evolve Holistic! For more information check her out at thehealingcuisine.com