Part I: Bhavani Jaroff
Bhavani Jaroff has over thirty years experience as a natural foods chef. Her career began while a student at the N.Y.S. College of Ceramics at Alfred University. At the time, there was not a vegetarian meal plan on campus so Ms. Jaroff designed and implemented a Vegetarian Meal Plan for the university. As part of her work study program, she cooked for 75 vegetarians daily and within the first semester, the program had expanded to over 125 students. After college, Ms. Jaroff worked in many natural foods restaurants both in New York City and Boston. Recognizing the need for an alternative to standard catering, Ms. Jaroff founded Morningstar Catering, a full service natural foods catering company. She ran Morningstar Catering for 12 years, before choosing to be a stay-at-home mom and raising her three children as vegetarians. As a homemaker/businesswoman, Ms. Jaroff put her catering experience to work and organized other mothers to form a food coop which she ran out of her home for the next 8 years. Bhavani can be heard on Progressive Radio Network every Thursdays at 10am (ET)/ 7am (PT).
Transcription Part I: Bhavani Jaroff
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! Good day! It’s Jaunary 15, 2013 and it’s time for It’s All About Food and I’m your host, Caryn Hartglass. Thanks for joining me. It’s been a big progressive radio network day for me and maybe for you too, but this morning I had the wonderful opportunity to be on another progressive radio network show The Natural Nourish and we’re doing a bunch of cross-promotion, cross-pollination here so that you can learn about the other programs that are on this network, and I’m enjoying it because I’m learning too. There’s just so many wonderful programs, and we’re just going to keep doing that. So, I’ve got another progressive radio network guest that I’m really looking forward to talking to today, and the two of us have been talking about doing this for too long and now it’s finally going to happen, so let’s proceed. My next guest is Bhavani Jaroff and she has over 30 years experience as a natural food chef. Her career began while a student at NYS college of ceramics at Alfred University at the time there was not a vegetarian meal plan on campus so she designed and implemented a vegetarian meal plan for the University. As part of her work study program she cooked for 75 vegetarians daily and within the first semester the program had expanded to over 125 students and after college she worked in many natural food restaurants in both New York City and Boston. Recognizing the need for alternative standard catering she founded Morning Star Catering a full service natural food catering company which she ran for 12 years before choosing to be a stay at home mom and raising her three children as vegetarians. Let’s bring on Bhavani, Welcome! Finally!
Bhavani Jaroff: Hi Caryn, thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re welcome now the one thing I didn’t mention in here is I eat green because you’re going to tell us about that.
Bhavani Jaroff: After retiring from Morning star catering and staying at home with my kids, after many years I actually went back to school and became a Waldorf teacher before that started I Eat Green. Waldorf education is based on the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner and one of the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner is how important your food is and the food meal plan at the Waldorf school in Garden City where my children went was not representative of that, so I proposed changing the cafeteria program to be a healthy alternative program and after much back and forth it was finally accepted and I took over the cafeteria at the Waldorf school and brought the educational aspects of Rudolf Steiner in line with the cafeteria program and so we served almost all organic at least natural foods and you know the chicken I think was organic but it was hormone, antibiotic free. We tried to highlight different seasonal vegetables, we started a composting program at the school and then I also incorporated community service throughout the high school so that all the students got to rotate through the cafeteria cooking for the homeless and then going onto the streets in Manhattan and serving them.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow that’s really ambitious.
Bhavani Jaroff: Yeah it was a great program and it’s still going on today, although I don’t know if the community service aspect of it is. When I left the Waldorf school, my kids kind of outgrew the school at the time, I started I Eat Green, and I Eat Green is really a conglomeration of all the different passions that I have from gardening and growing food to cooking healthy food and sharing the passion with people and trying to motivate people to make better choices with their fork both for their own body and for the planet and that’s all about what you’re doing as well.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right and amen through all of that. Thank you for doing that because we need more people doing it and we need more people doing it and people doing it and putting their own spin on it because we all don’t relate the same way to people. People need hear this message in many different way packaged in many different ways from different people some people are audio some people are visual and some relate to different cultures and we just need more people doing this
Bhavani Jaroff: Absolutely and you know my vegetarian path has changed so much from when I was sixteen and I first read Diet for a Small Planet which inspired me. The reason behind becoming a vegetarian at that time was because of the myth that we didn’t have enough food and I was now aware that we did have enough food to feed the animals instead of the people we were growing the wrong food for the people and so that was the impetus behind me becoming a vegetarian and then over the years I started doing it more also from the health point of view. at first I talked about going on a white diet. I was sixteen what I did I know I just cut meat out and ate everything else that I regularly ate so it was white pasta, bagels, bread. I really didn’t know so much about eating healthy and then when I had children and I was now, actually it started even before that but when you really become thoughtful for the health of another being you really have to take it on a very different level.
Caryn Hartglass: You know I agree with you but unfortunately, whether parents think that way or not a lot of them are not doing that.
Bhavani Jaroff: Absolutely, absolutely they’re not and you can just see it by all of the…
Caryn Hartglass: They’re letting their kids rule very often, the kids are influenced by marketing and their environment and the parents are tired and weary and overwhelmed and they want to have a nice relationship with their kids and they give in.
Bhavani Jaroff: They don’t want to fight about food so, chicken nuggets. I remember being in a supermarket when my daughter was young and my last one was definitely prone to temper tantrums and in the supermarket she’d be asking for something that I was not going to give her and she’d have a full fledged temper tantrum in all the supermarkets and I remember walking out, leaving my wagon, walking out of the store because I wasn’t going to give her what she wanted and people were looking at me like I was a terrible mother, just give her what she wants already, but there was no way I was going to to do that.
Caryn Hartglass: Good for you, I’m sure it’s paid off
Bhavani Jaroff: It has, it has, my kids all eat well even my son is no longer a vegetarian, however he does not eat fast food and is very aware of the meat that he does put in his body and also enjoys a lot of vegetarian food. And I think that’s one thing that I’ve come to realize is as you were saying before how everything’s packaged differently and people can hear it in different ways, because I want to help convert people to eating healthier and also healthier for the planet, I guess I’ve become more lenient in, or flexible in meeting people where they’re starting, where they are to start with and if you have someone who’s eating meat all the time, thinking that they’re going to become vegan or vegetarian right away is just not going to happen so you have to do it gradually you know I’m a private chef now and I have clients that I’ve been with for four years and just in the last few months that they’ve asked me to do one meal a week vegan and I’m so happy about that and I’m talking to them slowly and saying just let me know when you’re ready to go to two meals a week but they were meat and potato people before I started working with them.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s somewhat mind boggling how brainwashed we all are about what we’re supposed to be eating and how so many people are literally afraid to make changes. They’re afraid so you do have to step carefully, open the door, let them try one or two things, let them know they’re not going to die or feel bad…
Bhavani Jaroff: But also to not be judgmental, that’s been something I’ve really worked on over the years because it’s hard to not be judgmental sometimes when we firmly believe in what we believe in and we believe it’s better for so many reasons not just for our own health but looking at our society and look at the earth, our planet and climate change and what industrial agriculture and raising animals in this unsustainable way is doing to our planet so from so many aspects it’s infuriating sometimes to have people that just don’t get it and it’s hard to stay patient and be understanding and compassionate with meeting them where they are and try to win them over.
Caryn Hartglass: People have to understand, I have to just say this, I totally agree with you but the challenge for many of us is acknowledging what is going on in the world today and it’s pretty horrific so we’re looking at three major things that are just out of control and that is the way we raise animals for food, and what’s happening with our health and what’s happening to the environment. and I say this all the time, factory farming has to end and there’s just tremendous cost for all of us with our food and being unhealthy and I have the answers, a lot of us have the answers and you want to just shake people and say you don’t have to suffer but they don’t want the information so you’re right we have to be loving and non judgmental and compassionate and step lightly, be patient, and keep breathing.
Bhavani Jaroff: Keep breathing and like you said slowly win them over and the way that I have come to do it is just by presenting really good tasting food. I have been around so many vegetarians over the years and I’ve been asked to judge pot lucks where there’s a big vegan feast and I have to tell you there’s so much bad cooking out there that it’s enough to turn anybody off and it’s really crucial that people have the opportunity to taste really full flavored delicious rich vegan food because if everything tastes like it was just picked out of the garden and that’s delicious I don’t meant to put that down because there’s nothing better than fresh picked out of the garden salad but what I mean is that the food has to be really flavorful and beautiful presented and crafted with the consciousness and artistic quality so that it is enticing and appealing because we eat with our eyes as well as our taste buds and if it doesn’t pretty then I know this having raised children as vegetarian that you have all their friends coming over and if you don’t make something that looks appealing and looks familiar to them kids aren’t even going to try it.
Caryn Hartglass: I feeling like I’m hearing myself talking here.
Bhavani Jaroff: One of the first things to introduce kids to tofu I would make tofu parmesan and you can use rice cheese instead of cheese or if you’re okay with cheese you can use some organic mozzarella cheese but basically you know making the cutlets with some organic whole grain breadcrubs that you make and frying it just like you would a chicken cutlet or an eggplant parmesan and it’s delicious if you put tomato sauce on it and the kids love it.
Caryn Hartglass: You know, it’s crazy sometimes over the holidays one of our relatives was really being thoughtful and said I want to make you something vegan for the family dinner and she thought she’d make a little vegan lasagna she’d never made one before she was panicking for a week about it and then served it and she was surprised at how good it was and it’s tomato sauce and its pasta all the things people are used to eating it’s not that different
Bhavani Jaroff: Right, actually vegan lasagna is one of the things that I judged as being the best thing being at this vegan pot luck and it still was not very good. Actually last week I shared a vegan pesto lasagna for anyone who wants a really great recipe you need the creaminess you need to substitute that ricotta cheese that is in the lasagna in order to really have it feel full flavored. If you only do lasagna with tomato sauce it kind of drives out and it doesn’t have the creaminess that people are looking for in a lasagna so I make a pesto without any cheese and I mix some tofu in there little soymilk or rice milk or almond milk and you end up with a creamy luscious green pesto tofu mixture that is excellent and you know put some vegetables and it is just a great recipe.
Caryn Hartglass: Anything with pesto.
Bhavani Jaroff: That’s true, I agree.
Caryn Hartglass: So we met just last week even though we’ve had some–oh no I think we met in the studio once but we were at this event last week for the book that just came out Foodology by Wenonah Hauter and you had her on your show already, and I thought we just might talk a little bit about some of the topics that were bought up in the book. I was, it moved me quite a bit and it depressed me quite a bit.
Bhavani Jaroff: The issues are so big and they can be so overwhelming it’s hard.
Caryn Hartglass: Because you and I have been very similar approaches we want to change the world by putting healthy delicious food in people’s mouths and I think it’s a pretty good strategy, but one of the messages I got in the book was that one person that one person at a time concept isn’t enough and we need to be writing our legislators and letting our government know what we want in order to make change because this is big powerful force that our corporations, just a handful of them, that are totally in control of our food supply and it’s really frightening.
Bhavani Jaroff: It’s very frightening. It’s so discouraging for me as well when I’ve been on this path so long and the products that I’ve use for so long that I’ve thought of as someone like me starting out this start up company and becoming successful and then selling out to a big corporation and you can understand everybody wants to be financially successful and be able to move on but then these parent companies take over and they push to change the ingredients, they push to weaken organic standards, they add sugar where they don’t need sugar, they add carrageenan where they don’t need carrageenan they just add different things and they change the product and then they also push and promote the goals of the parent company which in this case we’re just coming off of proposition 37 in California there’s so many of these organizations or companies put money into defeating proposition 37 which is our right to know for labeling GMOs and that’s what’s going on all over.
Caryn Hartglass: Every time when I was reading the book and I was familiar with all the things that had happened over time that she was mentioning and what’s great about this book is that it puts it all in one place the history how we go to where we are today but I kept wondering to myself maybe I’m just denying or innocence but i couldn’t believe that people individuals would really promote these things that are so bad for us or be a part of that but I guess money and power are really…
Bhavani Jaroff: Years ago I saw the movie Future of Food and in that there was a court set up in Europe where they were actually asking people from Monsanto when the European Union was not allowing GMOs into their country they were saying to the executives of Monsanto well why don’t you eat the GMOs for a year and you be the experiment and then let us know how it goes. They were refusing they were not going to eat the GMO products. You wonder don’t they have children and grandchildren don’t they care? But you know as you said money rules and I remember when I was first pregnant with my oldest daughter there was a big lawsuit amongst the Beechnut executives where they had been promoting artificial colored sugar water and apple juice in baby bottles and they went to jail but it was one of the first white collar crimes that I remember but it always gets me when people are like well you can’t just trust anything coming out of China and it’s like hello, Beechnut was right here. You can’t trust anybody when it has to do with the money they just don’t have any integrity.
Caryn Hartglass. I think Wenonah had talked about a few examples that had happened much earlier like that in her book and laws had come along so that you couldn’t do that and Beechnut still did it anyway.
Bhavani Jaroff: The one thing that she does talk about are all the anti trust laws that were weakened under Reagan and conglomerations that have been taking place and there’s used to be laws to prevent that so that we had some choice and now we don’t have choice not only in our food system but in our healthcare system, all the insurance companies that are becoming conglomerates, all the hospitals are becoming conglomerates the local community hospitals are all now owned by a big hospital pharmaceutical companies are now margining all the merges that are now happening with the weakening of the anti trust laws and are allowing corporations to become so powerful that of course with the court’s ruling that corporations can be considered people in their rights to voting and be giving donations to political parties it’s just become a ridiculous situation and so you’re right what Nona was saying we really all have to now become political activists we can no longer just make these decisions make good decisions with purchasing good products but we really have to stand up and get out there and protest and sign petitions.
Caryn Hartglass: And write letters not just emails but send paper mail that makes a tremendous impact.
Bhavani Jaroff: We don’t have the money that these corporations have but we do have the numbers in people.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to believe that we can make a difference with individuals and it’s really easy to get frustrated and think that I can do sometimes I’m a little fearful that the only thing that will work is if we all just stop everything, stop buying, just everybody stop let the whole machine come to a complete halt and say we are not participating any more until we’re heard.
Bhavani Jaroff: That’s the 99% movement was trying to do and is still trying to do This great movement brought awareness in this big way that didn’t exist before protests to the 99% and to the 1% corporate ruling that is just out of proportion.
Caryn Hartglass: I agree with it all, that it’s all important but I still believe myself that if you and I can change a lot of people’s eating habits things will change significantly.
Bhavani Jaroff: This is a great article today in Health section of the Science Times about transitioning to become a vegan, it was great and it was really just saying don’t do it overnight, it’s not going to happen overnight cold turkey, that you need to be patient with yourself and do it slowly and develop your taste so that if you’re craving a burger don’t’ expect a vegan burger to taste like a hamburger it’s going to taste different and it’s going to be delicious and it can satisfy that craving but it’s going to be different and you have to…
Caryn Hartglass: I’m going to need to read that article.
Bhavani Jaroff: For anyone who hasn’t seen it it’s really create and it’s so do able in little bites I’m not vegan I should just say that because people will know that on occasion I eat fish and on occasion I eat dairy and it’s something I’m striving towards myself I do think it’s healthier and better and I’m working towards it but I still feel that my food choices are so so much better than most.
Caryn Hartglass: We don’t have any evidence for the ideal diet at this point in time we have a lot of information that gives us an idea and basically we know that a diet that’s based in plant foods and whole rather than processed is the best but we don’t know if we need a little bit of animal product or not we don’t know that, that hasn’t been demonstrated
Bhavani Jaroff: I was a young mother and i was having a child before any of my friends and i just felt that as a vegetarian at that time without knowing a lot I know a lot more now I felt like i needed to have that protein how that’s drilled into us and so that’s when I started eating fish again and then I kind of just kept doing it and now as I’ve learned more and I know the conditions of the ocean and the garbage that the fish eat and I know the pollution in the water and I used to be able to [grasp on it] that fish live in the natural life until their caught they’re out in the wild they’re not being raised and offering and I’ve been able to rationalize it better and now the whole farming world has changed that’s no longer the case now they’re being raised just to be slaughtered just like the meat and so if I do eat fish I’m very mindful as to what fish I eat and that it’s wild caught but still like you said it’s lots of issues. Same with dairy I was shocked to know that dairy contributes to greenhouse gas emissions almost as much as meat productions. I thought that was better.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’s not. Then there’s also the veal connection which is directly related to dairy. You can’t have milk without a baby calf which ultimately is slaughtered most of the time.It’s not a pleasant world we live in
Bhavani Jaroff: It’s not, it’s not. Again, I am choosing to eat dairy, I do try to know that it’s being farmed locally, raised locally, I know the farmer and just trying to be mindful of that kind of thing and also just eating a lot less of it and most of the time I choose not to, and I’m feeling better about it, and I certainly believe that there will be a day when it will be over for me.
Caryn Hartglass: I wish you the best with that and certainly if there’s more people doing what you’re doing it will become easier for everyone. One other thing about fish, there’s lots of different feeling bout it I know that there are some people who call themselves vegan and even on occasion have a small amount of fish if they feel it’s important. There are things out there like DHA supplements from algae which give us what many people are looking for when they eat fish. You can get them from plant based sources. The thing that gets to me mostly, what drove me to eating plant foods was I’m not into pain and suffering and even fish I have read some amazing stories about how they think and live and care about their families and experience pain they don’t look anything like us but there’s a lot going on down there under the water that we don’t comprehend.
Bhavani Jaroff: I’m sure, I’m sure
Caryn Hartglass: And hopefully we’ll just move to a better place.
Bhavani Jaroff: Well the other thing also that started changing my mind about fish is you are told that you want to eat the fish that you’re going to get all these omega 3s however nowadays with the farming fish, they’re feeding them fish pellets and fish pellets if you really search into what’s in fish pellets they’re putting chicken parts and slime from the chicken gut into the fish pellet and fish aren’t supposed to eat chicken so what happens to the nutritional value that you thought you were getting from fish from getting omegas 3 when they’re not eating the plankton that you think they’re getting the omega 3’s from, but they’re now eating chicken parts. All of a sudden the nutritional value is going to be different.
Caryn Hartglass: We have to stand up and not support this and let more people know about it and not make them want to eat what they’re eating today. If people stop buying it we won’t have it that’s why I believe in what we’re doing more than anything else.
Bhavani Jaroff: I agree with you and we really need to help encourage people to pick a subject that they can feel passionate about and to become active. There are like you said just so many issues you talked about just three, the environment, cruelty to animals, and our health but there’s so many more. There’s climate change and that goes under environment and the economy. It goes on and on and so if everybody at least picked one area that they’re willing to put some energy into it would be so much better. I’m getting to the age where I know many people that are starting to retire and think about retiring and when you are retired there’s so much time and energy that you could promote and put towards these good causes and most people that I know are not doing that. When I think about just going to Florida and playing golf, it makes me crazy
Caryn Hartglass: I’m with you, well Bhavani thank you. Where can people hear your show and find your website?
Bhavani Jaroff: My website is www.ieatgreen.com. And they can email me at email@example.com
Caryn Hartglass: And your show on progressive radio network is…
Bhavani Jaroff: Thursday at 10 and you will be my guest, I look forward to continuing this conversation.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely, ok, thank you so much for joining me and we’ll talk on Thursday
Bhavani Jaroff: Thank you, thanks for having me.
Transcribed by Meichin, 2/25/2013