Part I: Pedram Shojai Prosperity
Pedram Shojai, OMD is a man with many titles. He is the founder and CEO of Well.Org, the editor of Be More! magazine, the author of the NY Times bestseller The Urban Monk (Rodale, 2016) and Rise and Shine (Process, 2011), the producer and director of the movie Vitality, the executive producer and writer for the film, Origins and the Host of two weekly video podcast series, The Urban Monk and The Health Bridge. He also has recent projects launching in 2017. His new movie Prosperity (2017) and his new book The Art of Stopping Time (Rodale 2017). In his spare time, he’s also a Taoist priest, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, a kung fu world traveler, a fierce global green warrior, an avid backpacker, a Qi Gong Master, and an old school Jedi bio-hacker working to preserve our natural world and wake us up to our full potential.
Part II: Craig Cochran PS Kitchen
Craig Cochran has has been a tour-de-force in the NYC restaurant scene with over a decade of opening and running pioneering restaurants. In 2010, he co-founded Terri, the first plant-based fast food restaurant in NYC. Terri now has three locations. Craig is the co-founder of P.S. Kitchen, a new, gourmet restaurant which donates 100% of the profits to charity. Craig is also the co-founder of Blackbird Seitan. Craig co-founded and co-owns the newest business Plates By Terri, a full-service catering company.
I’ve some exciting news. We learned a few weeks ago on It’s All About Food about Dr. Pedram Shojai’s brand new documentary Prosperity. It is LIVE right now and ready to watch.
Just out of theaters and ready to inspire millions more across the country, Prosperity will prove that we CAN all come together, change the world and make a profit at the same time… if we make the right decisions.
Click right HERE to register and see Prosperity FREE right now!
When you watch it I’d like to challenge you to open your mind to the new possibilities for not only socially conscious business, but things you as a consumer can start doing right now in your own life.
Once you’ve seen the movie you’re going to be excited about the possibilities, and Dr. Pedram has something huge planned to help you do just that.
He’ll be streaming a fantastic set of new videos called the Roadmap To Prosperity Event – and when you sign up for the movie you’ll have access to them ALL – also 100% free as soon as the Prosperity screening is over!
When you go and watch the movie be absolutely sure to read the entire page and learn what’s in store in the Roadmap to Prosperity Event!
It’s got the power to change lives and the world we live in.
Take a minute and get signed up here if you haven’t!
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hi everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass and thanks for joining me today for It’s All About Food here at the Progressive Radio Network. I’m in the studio with my guest today and I’m really looking forward to what may come out of this program but first I want to tell you what I’m doing here in the studio. Something that l like to do for a living and that is breath (Chuckles). We were talking about the importance of breathing and I’m feeling a bit frazzled and I feel like a lot of people have got a lot of stuff going on and it’s always important to get back to really the simplest basics of all and that’s breathing. So if you want, you can join me for a moment; let’s just take a nice big breath (Deep Breath). Okay, I’m letting go of everything just so I can be here in the moment and this is going to be a really good moment a delicious moment. I’m here with Pedram Shojai and I want to call him superman or super person or just amazing. Everything I’ve read and now he’s sitting right next to me. I’m getting chills not just because I’m in an air conditioned studio that’s freezing! He is a man with many titles and he’s the founder and CEO of www.well.org. I know you’ve been there www.well.org. He’s the editor of Be More! magazine, the author the New York Times bestseller The Urban Monk and Rise and Shine, the producer and director of the movie Vitality, the Executive Producer and writer for the film Origins and the host of 2 weekly video podcast series The Urban Monk and The Health Bridge. He also has recent projects launching in 2017. That’s now everybody! The new movie Prosperity, which we will be delving into a bit and his new book The Art of Stopping Time, in his spare time he’s also a Taoist Priest, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, a Kung Fu world traveler, a fierce global green warrior and an avid backpacker. A Qi Gong Master and an old school Jedi biohacker working to preserve our natural world and wake us up to our full potential, wow I just feel all energized and exhausted actually reading your bio.
Pedram Shojai: (Laughing)
Caryn Hartglass: Well, welcome.
Pedram Shojai: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome to It’s All About Food so you’re just in from Hollywood. You had a big event. Was it fantastic?
Pedram Shojai: It was great, it was great. Myself and a couple of filmmakers have been working to help young aspiring new talent in documentary to look at alternative distribution and be like listen if you’re going to go spend your 5 years of your life doing this thing, bedding the farm and trying to make the world a better place with it; traditional distribution typically won’t work for you. So here’s how you use the internet to get this in front of millions of millions of people and really make the change that you’re striving to make.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, well I like going outside of the box. I don’t want to be cliché there but we’re all finding that the traditional conventional ways aren’t necessarily in our best interest for just about anything.
Pedram Shojai: No, from education to health care to food to politics, everything is falling on itself because these old systems no longer work. We’ve changed, we’ve adapted and people can really bemoan all this. It’s just mulching for the new systems that are coming and so for me it’s fine. People just resist change. It’s time for change and what I’ve been doing is following positive examples of people doing it better and it’s like what Mother Theresa said it best “ I don’t go to an anti-war rally, I go to pro-peace ones.”
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I remember when Dennis Kucinich was in congress and he kept talking about creating a peace, a department of peace rather than a department of war. What do we really want to focus on?
Pedram Shojai: Yes that’s it and so the incentives are stacked in other directions right now and what’s funny is the people of the world don’t want war. The people of the world don’t want race riots, the people of the world don’t want to be sick but these things are here because there’s certain economic and financial play that keeps them alive and it’s just time to re-examine some of this stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: I like to point the finger at capitalism because I find capitalism as we have it today is strongly based on exploitation of people, animals, and the environment. So you have a new film out and it’s demonstrating that we can have a profit but also have a purpose. We can have social benefit and still make money and live comfortably and it’s exciting and inspiring to hear that because capitalism is something that needs to change.
Pedram Shojai: Yes and if and so full disclosure I’m not an economist guy. I’m a doctor priest guy.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Pedram Shojai: So I started looking at this with just open eyes and being like what is this? If money is the root of all this stuff what are we doing? Why are we driving off a cliff? Why are the worlds…if business keeps growing and the world’s problems keep growing then what’s wrong with this system and how do we shift it so we don’t kill ourselves. I mean it’s pretty simple math. I’ve got kids. I don’t want that to be a part of our future and so we start looking at it. I started looking at examples of people that are maybe doing it differently and I found a lot. I found a lot. There are some really cool people. There are some great examples.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, so that’s what we’re seeing in this film. Now it comes out in October this week.
Pedram Shojai: This week in theaters! Yay.
Caryn Hartglass: How exciting. It’s in New York?
Pedram Shojai: Yes, it’s in New York. The IFC in New York, it’s at the LAEMMLE in LA, it’s in 26 other markets; The Studio Movie Grill and we’re going to go from there but in October we’re going to release it online for free to the world for the month.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh wow.
Pedram Shojai: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Look at that everybody, we all like free don’t we? (Laughing)
Pedram Shojai: Yes, that’s part of it. I’ve spent 18 months of my life and spent a lot of money and did this the right way. It’s a beautiful film, but the message is so dang important that we’re like look you know what let’s just spend the month of October sharing this and allowing people to share with everyone they can. It’s already being translated into Spanish, German, French and we are working on more languages but it’s just time and money. We’re just trying to move as fast as we can and it’s already influencing. A few people that have seen it; the press and stuff like that like “wow! I left there feeling enthusiastic, I left this movie feeling like there’s hope.” And that’s what I want, I mean it’s really easy to say the sky is falling and were screwed, that doesn’t really help my children’s children and so everyone is in this shocked panicked frenzy and they’ve been shocked into inaction well that certainly isn’t going to help so what can I do right now to be a part of something that is positive and that could make a difference that’s what the movie is all about.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I saw it and it definitely is very positive, very inspiring and I think we all love to see it happening right in front of us that it’s not something that we’re talking about that we can do. It’s happening. There are companies that are making the effort to do it and some of the stories were really quite lovely and there’s even a happy ending.
Pedram Shojai: (Chuckles).
Caryn Hartglass: (Laughing).
Pedram Shojai: What’s a Hollywood tale without a happy ending. Yes but something really cool happened in the making of the film.
Caryn Hartglass: Very! Yes.
Pedram Shojai: I’m not going to disclose it. If you just see a problem in front of you and you just start moving in the direction of solving the stuff in front of you the entire universe conspires to help those things happen but it’s all determined by whether or not we put in our intent, whether or not we put in our energy and step up to do anything. My whole thing is if you are waiting for Washington to fix your problems you are in trouble.
Caryn Hartglass: The government is always the slowest behind everything so we talk about food on the show all the time. I have all the experts that know the latest science and the best foods that we should be eating and what our food system is doing to our environment and to our health and to people all around the world and the government they’re just like in another century, they’re not even in the 21st century. You can’t expect them to create any policy to support what’s in our best interest.
Pedram Shojai: it’s regressive. If you just look at how the financial incentives are stacked, the governments gotten really bad and this entire kind of thing with Trump coming in and talking about draining the swamp. He wasn’t wrong about that, the way lobbies work in Washington are egregiously tilted towards people just paying the play and buying the politicians and all that kind of stuff and fortunately since he’s come in there’s been other regressive moves. For me I actually think it’s a great wake-up call on both sides because it’s like everyone is waiting for someone to fix problems in front of them instead of picking up a shovel and getting to work and so we’ve all got to dig ourselves out of this hole, how do we do it?
Caryn Hartglass: Yup, all right I like focusing on food (Chuckles) because this show is called It’s All About Food and I could always find a way to connect everything through food. The movie does touch on food in a number of different ways. Where is food in your life other than nourishing yourself and your family? How far are you taking where you go with the food that you eat?
Pedram Shojai: If you think about what the difference is between needs and wants in humans; what we need is food, water, shelter, love. What we want is a Mercedes Benz, what we want is trips and flights, this shirt vs that shirt.
Caryn Hartglass: Cake! (Laughing).
Pedram Shojai: Yes, and we want cake and so what the advertising industry is all predicated on is making you feel like you’re not whole and what you really need is to wear this perfume that this celebrity wears and then you’re going to beautiful and attractive and then you’re going to get taken care of and down the line, down the line; and so it’s all predicated on these wants not these needs. Food is an actual need, you don’t get to far without eating.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve heard about breatharians, I’ve never met one.
Pedram Shojai: I’ve never met one that I actually believed.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a lie (Laughing).
Pedram Shojai: Yes exactly (Chuckles). I’m a breatharian right now but I’m actually hungry (Laughing) and so there’s a lot of talk out there but at the end of the day food makes up your cells. Food is what you become. The food you eat is the person you become in the next few days, months, and years and so it’s the fundamental relationship you have with reality and nature is all grounded in the food that you eat and the food chain has been usurped. The supply chain of food has been compromised in a lot of ways and there’s no wonder why people are sick. My last movie we explored this you start looking at why everyone is sick and not feeling well and moody and cranky and all of it and you start looking at the inputs through the food also the inputs through the environment and if you take your kid to the park [12:09-voice unclear] all of this and then you wonder why autisms on the rise and cancer rates are still up and everyone is getting diabetes out of nowhere and none of this is arbitrary. Smoking guns are there. I’ve already done 2 health films. I’ve gone there and food becomes also the most powerful way of radically transforming all of this because we do have organics, we do have non-gmo, we do have options that say a lot about everything. So if you’re supporting a food that comes from a farm that takes care of the bees that doesn’t poison the environment that uses environmental stewardship to sequester carbon in the soil and all sorts of wonderful things that can happen through organic farming. You’re voting for the world you want to see and so mindlessly buying food that comes from a supply chain that’s poisonous is also a vote.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, so there’s a group of people, I’d say it’s small, maybe it’s growing that are concerned. They want to vote with their dollar. They want to support businesses that they feel are doing something good and buy products that they feel are good for them and their families but there’s a big bunch of people, the majority, especially in the United States that are very into convenience, they’re into low cost and they don’t care about the future which blows my mind. I don’t have kids but anybody who does have kids; don’t you care about your kids’ future? Apparently not.
Pedram Shojai: But if you ask them they would say they absolutely do.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, they do.
Pedram Shojai: But you hippie liberals want to take away all my liberty and so there’s everyone has been brainwashed in a different direction. I’ve never met a mother who didn’t actually care for their kids, they’ve just been brainwashed into thinking all that stuff is nonsense and this stuff is just fine or it costs too much and I’m poor and I can’t. There are a lot of other narratives that are infecting a very simple decision.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a good word “infecting” because it is in some ways a disease.
Pedram Shojai: Yes, everything is.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Pedram Shojai: Yes, everything, psychological, spiritual disease of not seeing clearly.
Caryn Hartglass: (Chuckles)
Pedram Shojai: Just not seeing clearly.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Pedram Shojai: And the sooner we wake up and look at things clearly the sooner we can make better decisions towards a future that we can all enjoy together.
Caryn Hartglass: Now were you always awake?
Pedram Shojai: I was asleep last night. (Laughing)
Caryn Hartglass: (Laughing)
Pedram Shojai: I was actually asleep on the flight over.years
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, good.
Pedram Shojai: No, I was just a normal kid and then I ended up having some kind of mystical experiences going into my college years and I didn’t know how to deal with it; couldn’t really explain it and was fortunate/wise enough at that young age to realize that I needed help so I found a Kung-Fu master who then became an elder lineage that pulled me in and contained this monkey. It really helped me find my way inside a lineage so that I wasn’t untethered and spiritual. (Chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: (Laughing) You have children, how old are they?
Pedram Shojai: My eldest is 3 and a half, my baby is turning 2 in November.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh they are little babies.
Pedram Shojai: They’re little babies.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Pedram Shojai: We waited, we waited.
Caryn Hartglass: So, what is your plan for educating and raising them so that they can be awake in life except during sleep and nap times? (Chuckles) When they are supposed to be sleeping.
Pedram Shojai: (Heavy Sigh) if I’m saying this on the air, my wife’s going to kill me but here we go.
Caryn Hartglass: (Laughing) no one’s ever asked you?
Pedram Shojai: No, no, no, no, I actually have a very specific plan that’s hatching now.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup.
Pedram Shojai: We’re planning on moving to Puerto Rico even with all the storms and stuff that are happening. We’re planning on (with a number of families) opening a biodynamic farm that feeds our families, uses local labour. We’re planning on moving the elder leadership of the Forest School that a couple of our friends kid’s go to and I can explain what that is for the kids and then the kids that are in the Forest School who will rotate onto the farm and understand how to grow their own food the whole time and all of it and we plan on the kids being in Spain, France, and Germany and Japan and homeschooling based on their own strengths but also learning how to learn and learning how to be in different cultures but I will not subject my kids to a life [16:51-unclear] at the public parks, I will nor subject my kids to the poison of TV and the Disney channel making them think that they need to buy these toys and asking for superheroes and this and that. I’ve just been watching the whole thing and this is really early stage brainwashing and this is biological warfare and it’s aimed at my children at a very young age, No! I choose differently.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I applaud you. Yes, did you have this plan before the Puerto Rican floods?
Pedram Shojai: Yes and in despite it, now myself and one of the families we are double downing and being like “ok these people need our help the most, these people need us to step in and help support this island even more so let’s show up with buckets.” There is a lot behind it, these are people and they are suffering. I want to show up and be a part of something especially if you go there, there is tax breaks and all sorts of stuff. I want to earn it, I don’t want anything I don’t earn. I want to go there and stimulate there economy and help them and “ok if there power grid is down then why don’t we just start over and start with solar.”
Caryn Hartglass: You know that’s exactly what I was thinking of and it’s horrible all the things that we’re heard about but I’m think ok here’s an opportunity to start over and make it all localize in every place.
Pedram Shojai: You got it.
Caryn Hartglass: Why do we need one of these crazy big giant inefficient grids.
Pedram Shojai: No!
Caryn Hartglass: I mean we have the technology now.
Pedram Shojai: We have the technology it’s a reset. The federal funds are going there, we as people of America are paying for it. Why don’t we go do it right and you look at what happened, Salt Lake City was a dump before the Olympics and then the Olympics came and they revitalized, they got new roads, they got internet, they got all this stuff and now all of a sudden it’s now blossoming so let’s re-think how this thing happens, decentralize it and make it more resilient. Global warming is happening. Climate change is happening it turns out it’s not a hoax and it turns out that the Caribbean is more susceptible to it so how do we build resilience into systems and I almost want to set up a center for the awareness of climate change in Puerto Rico on the ashes or the puddles left of this hurricane to be like no we are going to take our cameras, this is an awareness campaign that builds out from here. We’re going to work on new tech and resilience to try to change this in our lifetimes.
Caryn Hartglass: Back to your children, you mentioned the Forest School what is that?
Pedram Shojai: So a few of our friends do this, we don’t have one where we live so we’re jealous.
Caryn Hartglass: (Chuckles)
Pedram Shojai: But basically the kids get dropped off, the entire class the curriculum, everything is based out in the woods. The kids rain or shine are in the woods all day, they’re learning math in the woods, they’re reading in the woods and they’re playing in the woods. They’re discovering and that pinecone over there, let’s go look it up and so these kids are developing incredible resilience. Their rhizosphere and their microbiota are way healthier and they are just well adjusted and adapted. They look you in the eyes like little human kids used to.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, instead of…I’m looking at my hand like I’m looking at my phone.
Pedram Shojai: Yes, instead of some dumb device that’s sucking the life force right out of your kid’s consciousness.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, we were just talking about at home how social media is really an oxymoron. (Chuckles)
Pedram Shojai: It’s not social at all.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s not at all.
Pedram Shojai: I’ve got to tell you stories; my wife’s cousin’s kids, 15 years old and he was going and packing up. We were over there and he was packing up due to a birthday party of his friend and he’s packing his huge computer I’m like “what are you doing?” he’s like “oh we’re going to go and sit around a table and play these video games with each other” and what you’re 15. When I was 15 I used to play basketball and go chase girls. What is a 15 years old boy supposed to do? I was furious, I was fuming. Who are these morons, I was yelling and the mom “why are you letting him do this?”
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly because it’s easier.
Pedram Shojai: He’s a zombie, “oh well kids today, they all do this.”
Caryn Hartglass: No they don’t.
Pedram Shojai: That like what the prison guards in Nazi Germany say “Well the guards today they all do this” It’s just like you’re walking like a lemming off a cliff.
Caryn Hartglass: (Heavy Sigh)
Pedram Shojai: No not my kids! No thanks!
Caryn Hartglass: Yup, have you seen the film Captain America?
Pedram Shojai: No.
Caryn Hartglass: Have you heard about it?
Pedram Shojai: Oh Yes, I’ve heard about it but I haven’t watched it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, oh wait am I thinking of…Captain… No, I’ve got the wrong film. It’s Captain, help me everybody, it’s Captain Something. This man who raises his children in the woods, it’s oh well you know what I’m talking about, (Laughing) it’ll come to me in a minute; not Captain America the comic superhero.
Pedram Shojai: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: No, no, no, no with the big wheel no.
Pedram Shojai: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: This guy raises his children in the woods with his wife but his wife has some mental issues and she’s tried to commit suicide. It has a dark side but then he has to bring the family to…Captain Fantastic…
Pedram Shojai: Captain Fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: And he brings the children back into society to go to her funeral and it’s just an amazing film.
Pedram Shojai: So for me I’m not interested in also being a…[22:00-didn’t catch word]. My kids are in town, we’ll live in a house with fast internet and all that and just shielded at nights and if my wife wants to go dancing we’ll grab the dancing shoes and go to Miami or New York and travel, go to Paris and London. I want the best of what the world offers but having your kids be in toxic exposure all the time just doesn’t work. I mean I’ve seen the data, it doesn’t work and everyone is like but I need this Chanel, I need the purse. Everyone is willing to subsidize the apocalypse because fashion dictates it. It just doesn’t make sense.
Caryn Hartglass: No nothing makes sense today.
Pedram Shojai: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: Nothing makes sense.
Pedram Shojai: You know what hugs makes sense.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Pedram Shojai: Good food makes sense.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes you’re right, I shouldn’t say nothing, it’s not that.
Pedram Shojai: But Yes that’s my point what if the answer to all our complexities was actually simplicity. Sunsets make sense, beaches make sense.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh absolutely.
Pedram Shojai: If this one’s dirty let’s clean it up and so I think we could take a lot from nature.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so I’m curious about, you put out a lot of material, you do a lot of stuff and it’s amazing and it’s all great and you have a book out about stopping time which I’m really curious about. You’re at home, you’re with your children what’s a meal look like for you? Where does the food come from?
Pedram Shojai: We have our own garden which subsidizes at best because we are not farmers. We get tomatoes and basil and stuff like that. We have a CSA box delivered every other week and then we supplement with vegetables from Whole Foods and some stuff from Trader Joe’s and it’s mostly like…
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, you’re like regular people.
Pedram Shojai: Yup like normal people. Yes, Yes it’s not like I’m carving bark and chewing on sticks. There’s ways to get healthy supply, I’m not Farmer Smurf.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Pedram Shojai: I’m Movie Smurf and that’s fine but I rely on ethical Farmer Smurf to get me something that’s not going to poison my children so I just make sure I choose wisely how I shop.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I like to see how people live who are promoting an idea and walking the walk. I like to see how people who are promoting things that I like how they walk.
Pedram Shojai: Sure and it’s not always easy. I travel a lot, airports and stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Pedram Shojai: At a certain point you’re not “is that grass-fed” nowadays you can get away with that at certain places or you just get vegetables “are you sure those vegetables weren’t grown conventionally.” If you are in Omaha less likely if you’re in New York you might be able to get something like that and so that only happens and that only grows by people choosing the healthy vegetables, choosing the pasture-raised stuff. Depending on what your ethics are lined up with you can still choose the cleanest most sustainable source period but people don’t really even think about that so that’s a thing too. It’s a big thing.
Caryn Hartglass: I was talking to Eric Toensmeier a couple of weeks ago or maybe it was last week already on this show about Project Drawdown. I’m really fascinated with that book and all the solutions that they offer and I’m focusing on the top few. The first one I like to repeat because most people don’t even think about it and that’s refrigeration management and how refrigeration really is the most dramatic thing that we can do to reduce human induced greenhouse gasses and you think what? But refrigeration management is up that and that’s refrigerators, air conditioners and it’s putting them in landfills and not minding where all those refrigeration fluids are going because those are really dangerous. But then number 3 and number 4 the ones that I’m really passionate about and number 3 is waste and working on dealing with waste and we learned a long time ago reduce, reuse, recycle so the key is to reduce waste and there is so much food waste from when food is grown till the time you throw it away in your garbage can. There are so many places where the food is wasted. But one of the things I liked about in you movie is not just food waste but also waste, trash waste plastic waste but there are so many things that we can do that can help clean up and reuse it in a way that’s really wonderful. That’s inspirational because I keep thinking about all this crap all over the world. What are going to do with it what are we going do something with it.
Pedram Shojai: We don’t have to make it in the first place, probably a decent answer.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Pedram Shojai: There is also electronic waste which is a huge, huge thing.
Caryn Hartglass: What are we going to about that?
Pedram Shojai: Oh my god! There is a new iPhone.
Caryn Hartglass: But that’s not what we are going to do with it. What are we going to with all the waste.
Pedram Shojai: Yes, well I mean so we are looking at some solutions that came through film and I’ve continued. The movies over but the movement is just beginning kind of thing and now we’re looking at some stuff that we do with local tribes “why do we need to bring this here in plastic in the first place so that we have to take the plastic out.” So we’re looking at 3D fabricators and all sorts of interesting things to deliver raw materials and products, here fill up your gourd have a glass jar and there’s a lot of things that are coming that are making a lot of sense because of technology and the will to do it and plus to the consumer is just tired of it.
Caryn Hartglass: We’re tired of garbage.
Pedram Shojai: You can’t hide from it anymore and the landfills are fine but you get all these cruise liners dumping all this crap over in the oceans. You get this huge islands of plastic in the ocean and species of crabs that are now eating the plastic and turning into plastic animals and this is happening right now and so when you look at all that “wow that’s gross and creepy” well that bottle of water that you just chucked just added to that so how to you get clean portable water in a container that is something that doesn’t end up as trash? This is something we all have to ask ourselves.
Caryn Hartglass: Yup, I was just reading about some new invention that uses a certain kind of algae which naturally is strong and can hold fluid while it has fluid in it but as soon as it’s drained it shrivels up and they are thinking about using that it terms of bottling liquids.
Pedram Shojai: Great and to me that’s one of the things that really kind of turned a corner for me and allowed me to feel really enthusiastic about capitalism in that capacity is whoever invented that I hope they become a bajillionaire.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Pedram Shojai: Go get it dude.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes why not.
Pedram Shojai: Go get it go get it! Great idea, I love it, I’ll give you money.
Caryn Hartglass: (Chuckles) Okay, so let’s just wrap this up. Tell us about Prosperity and where we can find out more about it and where we can see it and how we can see it for free soon and all of that.
Pedram Shojai: www.prosperityfilm.com that will take you where you need to go. We are doing a global free screening through October and trying to just keep it open for as long as we can to share it with as many people so www.prosperityfilm.com is where that is.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s beautiful, well I wish everybody to go out there and watch Prosperity and learn how to help make the world more prosperous for everybody.
Pedram Shojai: Amen, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, thank you Pedram for joining me on It’s All About Food now we are going to take a little break. We’ll be right back.
Transcribed by M. Eng, 10/27/2017
File Name: IAFF-26sept2017-craig-cochran
Caryn Hartglass: I really do hope you check out the film Prosperity, especially when it’s free, right? You can’t beat that. But in this day and age of gloom and doom and all of the seemingly wrong decisions that are being made left and right, up and down, here and afar, you will be inspired and kind of encouraged to see what you can do in your own life once you see what others are doing to make pretty good change, and like Pedram talked about, in some ways it’s about making things simpler, not more complicated. I hope you enjoy that film. Okay, I’m waiting for my guest to arrive and I’m not surprised that he isn’t here yet because he happens to be running restaurants and it can be a crazy time there. But he’ll be here soon and I’m looking forward to that.
But meanwhile, let’s just talk about food and my experiences with food over the week. You know, I’ve said from time to time that when I visited friends in hospitals or medical facilities, some things have improved in some places, but not most. And not where I was this week. So, I’ve been talking about taking my parents around and my dad has been requiring some medical attention. He is 89 years old and he was having a treatment this, actually it was last Friday. And it was a two, two and a half hour procedure, whatever, and they served treats. So, while you’re being treated to boost your immune system with the immunotherapy to fight cancer, they feed you treats and those treats that they serve are the kinds of things that are known to do what? Promote cancer. Is it what we were talking about earlier, that people really mean well and they just have been manipulated and don’t know what they’re really doing? I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that they had some nice little energy bars that were filled with all kinds of sugary sweeteners and while the sugar that’s found in whole fruits is fine and good for us, the sugar that is processed is not and does not react the same in the body when it’s not being digested with fiber. And it can do a lot of damage and it can also grow that cancer. And there were pretzels and chips and where were the- where was the fresh fruit? Where was the broccoli? Where were the mushrooms? Who wants to snack on those? I do. But part of it, I keep thinking, is they want to keep their customers coming back. The hospitals anyway, the medical facilities. Keep them well enough so that they can buy all of these crazy products but not that well because you want them to keep coming back. And there’s not a whole lot I can do about it once I’m there. But what I want to do is scream but I don’t think that would get me very far, if I started screaming, right? Okay.
I had a chance recently to create a new dish and actually, I’m going to bringing on my guest soon when he shows up, which is Craig Cochran, who is the co-owner of a very new restaurant, PS Kitchen, we mentioned that new restaurant on the show before. I think it opened in August and I was there, mid-August. And the dish that I chose was a ginger congee. Have you ever had congee? Congee is like a rice soup where you cook rice, typically white rice, and you cook it for hours, two, three, four hours so that the rice just totally falls apart and it’s creamy and you can season it typically with mushrooms and ginger. I love when it’s just loaded with ginger. I made one but I didn’t use white rice because we like to use whole foods, we like to use minimally processed foods, we like to eat the whole grains with their exteriors that are filled with all kinds of important nutrients, rather than the polished version of rice that takes all the good stuff off before you eat it. And I made a congee. It didn’t get as creamy as the white would. And I only cooked it for about three hours. Maybe if I cooked it for six it would’ve gotten creamier, but it’s fantastic. I used black rice and red rice and brown rice and tons of ginger. And some shiitake and porcini mushrooms, and just cooked it. And it didn’t, and it wasn’t complicated, just throw it in a pot and stir occasionally and just add water if it keeps drying up. But, I love congee and I’m so glad that I was able to make it at home.
Another thing, as I deal with my parents aging and going through some of the things that they’re going through, I’m committed more than ever, and I’ve always been committed, maybe I should be more committed, to eating as healthy as I can because, you know a lot of us say, we don’t want to become our parents. I don’t want what’s happening to them, to happen to me. Maybe it’s selfish. And I will be talking to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I think it’s next week, next week. He has a new book out called Fast Food, something rather, it’s about fast food. And the book is coming out, I think October 17. And we’ll be talking about it next week. And I’ll tell you, one of the questions I want to ask him, maybe you know the answer, we often talk about what unhealthy lifestyles can do. We know that processed foods, lots of animal products, increase the risk of cancer and heart disease and diabetes, all those chronic diseases, immune diseases, and make the body age faster and make it feel not as good as it should be, not as energetic as it should, the pain and the aches increase with poor lifestyle, poor diet. And then we talk about how the risk of just dying comes earlier, if we’re not taking care of ourselves. But if we do take care of ourselves, and do everything known to us that we can to keep our body fit and in shape and well nourished, what is death supposed to look like? And that’s what I want to know. Do you know? Is it just that we live and maybe slow down a little bit and then fall asleep? That would be nice. But do people do that? Do people that are living really healthy lifestyles and are fit and well nourished, is that what happens? Because I don’t hear that happening very often. I’m kind of curious about it. So that’s what I’ve been thinking about.
So I’m waiting for my guest, and he’s not here and he’s supposed to be on his way and Craig Cochran is quite an ambitious person and he has put together a number of fast food vegan restaurants here in Manhattan as well as this very new high end PS Kitchen, and I’m looking forward to hearing the stories about that. One of the things that I learned from eating in the restaurant, PS Kitchen, when they serve bottles of water, they have fresh mint in the water and try it at home! This is something you can do at home. Just put a sprig of mint in your water. It’s fantastic. It feels really fresh and okay, come on in Craig. Come on in. Thank you so much. Yes, have a seat. Put your headset on, and welcome to It’s All About Food.
Craig Cochran: Thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: I can’t imagine what your schedule is like.
Craig Cochran: It’s interesting.
Caryn Hartglass: Something we did at the top of the show was something that I tell my audience I do for a living, and that’s breathing. And I want to give you a moment to just take a breath.
Craig Cochran: No, I’m good, I’m good.
Caryn Hartglass: He’s good. That’s great.
Craig Cochran: I’m good. I’m a professional.
Caryn Hartglass: I was just talking about when we visited PS Kitchen, the water was served with fresh sprigs of mint. Are you still doing that?
Craig Cochran: Yes, we’re still doing that.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to tell you, I did it at home.
Craig Cochran: It’s pretty good, right?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s fantastic. I’m very particular about my water. So we have an under the sink water filter and then I distill the water so like it’s double cleaned and then adding the mint to it is just spectacular.
Craig Cochran: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Well welcome.
Craig Cochran: Thank you, thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: So I’ve read a little bit about you. Oh, maybe I should, do I even have your bio here? I should pull it up and tell us who you are. You founded a number of vegan restaurants and I was following your story and I want to start at the, somewhat in the beginning. The beginning of your story, what I want to say, is not necessarily unique for vegetarians. So you were a teenager and you went to college and I think a professor got you interested in vegetarianism.
Craig Cochran: He asked why do we eat pigs and love dogs and we had a whole discussion about that. What’s the difference between a pig and a dog and who has dogs and how would you feel if someone ate them and all those things. So, it just got me, certainly got me thinking. The light went on. I never thought really before that, he challenged us to try it for a week and that seemed very reasonable and I tried it for a week and now it’s been twenty years.
Caryn Hartglass: Good for you. What class was that?
Craig Cochran: Philosophy. Yes, good old philosophy.
Caryn Hartglass: There you go, philosophy. I love the vegan philosophers.
Craig Cochran: You know, to this day, I don’t even know if he’s vegan or vegetarian. I just think he was the kind of person that liked to push buttons and push the envelope and challenge people, really, and I’m happy he did.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m happy he did too, for us because we all get to benefit deliciously. Okay, what I want to say about you is it’s not that unusual for people who become vegetarian, especially at a young age, to start figuring out how to make their meals interesting and tasty and kind of like what we were used to eating, and then we think, oh I have to open a restaurant. And everybody says it but very few do it. And even fewer succeed. And I’m looking at you. A success story.
Craig Cochran: Thank you. Yes, it’s pretty crazy. I mean, I was an activist as a kid. You know, when I made the conversion, I wanted everybody to eat that way. I thought it was so much better for everybody. And I thought I made the best arguments in the world, but when the easiest argument for a meal is when I put a good plate in front of someone, it just, it melted all their cares away. And I said, this is, that’s when the other light bulb went off. I just need to, I need to make this food more accessible, and the food that was available to me in Buffalo, anyway, was not the type of food that I was used to and that I wanted or craved. The idea was I was actually going to move to New York to learn how to do it and go back to Buffalo and open a spot, but I fell in love with New York and so here I am.
Caryn Hartglass: I love New York.
Craig Cochran: I love it here.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s all about access. Accessibility. You named your fast food restaurants after your mom, Terri, and what is she? Is she following your path?
Craig Cochran: She eats close to the, closer to; I don’t want to say teach an old dog new tricks, but she’s much better. We’re German. My grandma is from Germany and the things we ate, most people would, They’d be concerned.
Caryn Hartglass: What’s fascinating about Germany, is the traditional diet is very meat focused, but they have a tremendous vegan movement there.
Craig Cochran: They do. That did not exist in 1913 when my grandma was born. Yes, but that’s the other thing, I grew up with this particular palette in Buffalo and having German grandparents and growing up in Buffalo, so that’s really inspired many of my dishes at Terri and at the new restaurant, PS.
Caryn Hartglass: A lot of times I talk on this program when I talk about vegan restaurants, that there’s a difference between in them, I think, than most other restaurants because in addition to wanting to provide food and I would want to think that most restaurants want to provide good tasting food, maybe not necessarily health food, but something, an atmosphere that people would enjoy, there’s this undercurrent of love with vegan restaurant owners and this joyful wonder because there’s so much more to it than just providing healthy food.
Craig Cochran: Thank you. I think there are a lot of really talented people out there that are making an incredible foods and just in the twenty years that I’ve been vegan, it’s been a huge change in all the options. This is something I’m passionate about and there is a lot of very passionate people out there right now making lots of delicious food.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay now in addition to all the wonderful things you’re doing and the skills that you have, the timing is right. And because I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years, and watching different restaurants try and fail and some of them were good, some of them not so good, and some of them are still around but maybe not making a big splash, I don’t know if you were familiar with Zen Burger when they came out.
Craig Cochran: Yes, I was familiar with Zen Burger.
Caryn Hartglass: I think they were just before ready, but they didn’t do everything right either because I didn’t think their food tasted that good.
Craig Cochran: Well I don’t remember there being a lot of vegan options, for one, I remember going in there, I was super excited and I think there was one thing I could eat and I was a little disappointed in that, and their footprint was really big. They had a really expensive property, location in New York. And that’s something I’m very cognizant about in New York. We have a commissary in Long Island City, which produces, does a lot of the heavy lifting for the restaurants, and that’s why I’m able to keep the footprint small, which keeps the rent down and makes us able to stay around.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, Manhattan is very expensive.
Craig Cochran: It’s insane. If I threw out some numbers, you would just, I mean, never in my life would I ever think I’d be paying rents that I’m paying, coming from, I grew up in the projects in Buffalo and twenty dollars for a meal for five, that was a lot.
Caryn Hartglass: And you were able to sleep at night.
Craig Cochran: Yeah, I sleep great.
Caryn Hartglass: Good. You don’t think how am I going to make all this…
Craig Cochran: No, I have a great life.
Caryn Hartglass: Good. Good. So what’s fascinating now is how vegan cuisine has evolved and it continues to evolve and becomes more exciting and it’s not brown rice and steamed veggies anymore, although, I love brown rice and steamed veggies.
Craig Cochran: I do too, I do too.
Caryn Hartglass: And going to PS Kitchen, it’s a very unique place and very unique flavors and I don’t remember seeing a green salad on the menu.
Craig Cochran: There’s no green salad on the menu. That was somewhat purposeful. I’m not a huge fan of salad. But we felt the pressure and we might put one on. Yeah, I don’t know, to me, it’s not a food group, but we have the green smoothies. I never had kale before I moved to New York, I never had quinoa, I didn’t know what that was, there’s a lot of things, that you know, that I’m exposed to because of my diet and because the restrictions, ironically, to the diet that I’ve explored so many more things that are out there, it’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. It’s, when people start to get to know food and what’s in their food, it’s a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very annoying thing because all the foodies can be very demanding and very particular. New Yorkers are very demanding about their food to begin with, wanting exactly what they want and why don’t you have it when I want it.
Craig Cochran: Right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: And it shouldn’t have, you know, wheat or soy or whatever the trending problem food is.
Craig Cochran: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. But you’ve done very well.
Craig Cochran: Thank you. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: So tell me more about PS Kitchen and what’s happening. You got a liquor license?
Craig Cochran: Oh yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Because when we were there, you didn’t have it. But as a result, you had some wonderful non-alcoholic mixtures.
Craig Cochran: We do, we have since fully loaded those wonderful non-alcoholic drinks. So, they are now available. Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: I had the War of the Roses.
Craig Cochran: Yeah! That’s one of my favorites.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s stunning and beautiful with the colors and flavors.
Craig Cochran: Thank you. Yeah, we’re ready for action.
Caryn Hartglass: Now does the menu change?
Craig Cochran: The menu is going to change, yes, seasonally. So we’re already working on our fall menu.
Caryn Hartglass: Can we, can you entice me a little bit? I’m starving right now.
Craig Cochran: Well, a lot of the idea, so we have a strawberry shortcake on the menu, it’s a summer dish. It’s one of my favorites. Just in terms of, there’s an almond cream that goes with it, which is incredible and I think that to me, it personally makes the dish. So we’re talking about something simple, pears, which I love, or apple, but I think pear would go nicely with that. But as far as the rest of the menu, I’m really leaving this up to my chefs. I throw them ideas and I tell them the things I like. We have a Buffalo Hen of the Woods dish, and there’s a German potato salad with purple sweet potatoes and that was something that I asked for, so these are just, I just threw out some ideas, there are dishes I loved as a kid, elevate them, and they did. I’m going to see what they can do with some of my fall ideas, but I haven’t seen…
Caryn Hartglass: Did you have purple sweet potatoes?
Craig Cochran: No, no we didn’t. No.
Caryn Hartglass: Because I just discovered them a few years ago. The first purple sweet potato I ever had tasted like a donut to me.
Craig Cochran: Yes, they’re very, they’re really nice. No, but no. That’s the idea. I take something that’s sort of, I don’t want to say peasant food, I take something simple that my parents and grandparents made, and I say what can you do with this? And that’s what they came up with. I was really happy with it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Lovely. I just had a thought and it left my head but that’s okay.
Craig Cochran: It sometimes, it happens.
Caryn Hartglass: Especially when you’re running like this on all four cylinders. Are there cylinders in cars anymore?
Craig Cochran: I believe so. I believe so. Some of them.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I wasn’t going to say that you have to have salads on your menu but I just found it so unique what you were offering, you know, we go to different restaurants with different kinds of cuisine so when you visit Chinese restaurants, or an Indian restaurant, you’re not going to expect to find what you find in an Italian restaurant. Vegan cuisine is developing in such a way that there are all these different facets of it that you don’t have to expect quinoa, brown rice at every restaurant, or green salads. Although I do recommend it because, well sometimes, it’s the same thing with any restaurant where I wish more restaurants would offer vegan options because then everyone could dine together.
Craig Cochran: Yeah, well one of the things that motivates me to create dishes is I want to appeal to, I was trying to think of what my parents would want and what I would want before I was vegetarian. You know, so I’m trying to appeal to the mainstream, essentially, as you know, there are stereotypes of vegan food and I think that Terri does a good job of bucking those stereotypes so that’s what I want to continue to do with PS. I’m very cognizant about the fact that we don’t have brown rice and we don’t have quinoa and we don’t have things like that. There’s nothing wrong with that and I love those myself, personally, and not to say that it won’t happen some day, when it will happen, it’ll happen in a way that I think will be unexpected I guess.
Caryn Hartglass: The flavors and texture are all very unusual but not off-putting like what is this? But more like what is this? But I’m thinking, I mentioned it a few weeks ago, I’ve been, my parents, my dad is 89 and my mom is 84 and they’re going through some challenging times and I’ve been spending more time with them taking them to doctors and going to their restaurants, which has not been very pleasant for me. I visited every diner on Long Island and they could use your help. But then I took them to a place that I wanted to go to and then I had to review the menu and say what is on here that they’re palette would understand? They’re not big fans of cumin and curry flavors and that’s a popular flavoring in a lot of vegan food. I love it.
Craig Cochran: It is. Yeah. But I totally understand that. I remember that one of my first vegan Thanksgivings I went to there was something with cumin in it and I thought this does not belong in Thanksgiving food. I thought it was sacrilegious in some way but yeah I can relate.
Caryn Hartglass: Is PS Kitchen going to have a Thanksgiving menu?
Craig Cochran: Yeah, we will.
Caryn Hartglass: Is it going to be like Thanksgiving as we know it?
Craig Cochran: Yes, we will.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce?
Craig Cochran: Yeah. Elevated. Yeah, we’re going to do some stuff with that for sure. That’s one of my favorite meals of the year.
Caryn Hartglass: I love Thanksgiving and I love preparing Thanksgiving meals but it comes with so much stress and things when you’re inviting people that aren’t vegan and I keep saying okay we’re going out next year. We haven’t done it yet but maybe we’ll go out this year.
Craig Cochran: You should, you can ask people who are coming to the Thanksliving event at Woodstock last year, we catered that event and my, I personally think my grandma made the best stuffing in the world and we will probably have that stuffing featured in some way at our restaurant site. I think it’s delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Back to Terri. I read in your bio, which I didn’t read to everyone, that you have Plates by Terri or a catering business?
Craig Cochran: Yeah, a catering business.
Caryn Hartglass: Where do we get to find out about that or access it?
Craig Cochran: PlatesbyTerri.com. So there’s a website and we, we’ve catered several weddings, we’ve done some large events for, like Woodstock, and some other people.
Caryn Hartglass: So is the food a little more varied than it is at your restaurants?
Craig Cochran: It’s closer to PS. Yes, it’s much…
Caryn Hartglass: It’s more elevated. Yes, I’m trying to use your vocabulary.
Craig Cochran: Yeah, for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay that’s good to know.
Craig Cochran: Well you know I created the menu myself with some people and there’s other things I could cook that aren’t appropriate for Terri and this is a way for me to showcase those things. It’s fun.
Caryn Hartglass: What did you have for lunch today?
Craig Cochran: Oh my god I had half of my menu at PS. It was awesome. I had the Buffalo Hen of the Woods, I had the Colombian Potato Soup, I had the Orzo Alfredo…
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that’s good.
Craig Cochran: With the sun dried tomato and Chile compote. I had the crispy artichokes and I swear I’m not plotting, I literally had all these things, I was just in another interview and they wanted to taste some things so, yeah. A couple other things. The burger as well. We had the Banh Mi Burger, which is incredible. Oh god that’s so good. It is. It’s just so good and you have to recognize brilliance when there’s brilliance.
Caryn Hartglass: Well I had the ginger congee and I was just talking about it because I made some congee at home but my congee is like not real congee because I used whole grains so the rice doesn’t really melt.
Craig Cochran: Oh right, right.
Caryn Hartglass: But it was still quite good and I just love ginger and can’t have enough.
Craig Cochran: Good, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay well now I am really suffering here because I’m hungry.
Craig Cochran: Oh I’m so sorry.
Caryn Hartglass: No, that’s what happens on this food, on this show when we talk about food. So what can we expect from you next?
Craig Cochran: Well, I want to, you know, I’m taking the training wheels off PS Kitchen a little bit and then I will focus my eyes on other projects.
Caryn Hartglass: I just remembered what it was that I forgot before…
Craig Cochran: Oh sure.
Caryn Hartglass: I was talking to Pedram Shojai about the work he has coming out called Prosperity. The theme of the movie is about how we can actually have profit by having businesses that have a purpose and a social benefit and then I was following up with you which is one beautiful and delicious example of businesses that have a beautiful purpose and make delicious food that’s good for us and good for the planet and kind of giving people access to make healthy choices that aren’t going to be bad for the planet or their families. So you have a business that is profiting with a purpose.
Craig Cochran: Thank you. And we’re trying to create a social business here in New York. Not only do we, are we giving the profits to charity but we’re also working with organizations here in New York that, I guess, you know just helping people locally so we work with The Doe Fund, Restore, and the Bowery Mission, here locally.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. We’re out. We’re done. Thank you. I wanted to wrap up with that very bit of last information. They give their profits to charity and they’re helping very worthwhile organizations. Beautiful.
Craig Cochran: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Craig Cochran for joining me on It’s All About Food and go and visit PS kitchen today!
Craig Cochran: Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: All right everybody thanks for joining me, I’m Caryn Hartglass and this has been another episode of It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Lori Kim 11/11/2017