From The Blog

NYC Chef & Herbalist on Being An Ethical Consumer

April 16, 2012 - Community, Consumers, Food, Sustainability
By Nestor Bailly

Emily Cavelier has been living and working in New York City for almost a decade. From 2004 to 2007, she was the Pastry Chef at Pure Food and Wine, known for its delicious raw, vegan, and organic menu. From 2008 to 2011, she was Executive Chef at International Harvest, a New York based maker of wholesale vegan, raw, and gluten-free foods. In 2011, Emily launched her consulting business, Nourishing Root. Emily recently sat down with guest blogger Diana Barnes-Brown to talk about work, life, and how she tries to enact ethical values and practices as both a business owner and a consumer.

What do you think when you hear the term “ethical consumer”? What does it mean to you?

An ethical consumer prioritizes personal values over cost and convenience. I value what is going to be more beneficial and less harmful to me individually, to the community, and to the planet. Recognizing that we are all made of the same matter, I consciously connect myself to the earth and to others by doing what is best and making the kindest choice as often as possible. Because this idea runs contrary to mainstream consumerism focused on the benefit and survival of the self, there will be challenges and gray areas. By incorporating ethical consumerism into my daily life, I become more aware and can share that awareness with those around me, either actively or by example.

Tell me a little about your work over the past decade.

I came to NYC with cooking and baking experience, and decided to study health-supportive cooking and nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute. As the Pastry Chef at the raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine, I challenged myself to make raw desserts inspired by classics like tiramisu, mallomars, and ice cream sundaes.

Currently, I have a nutritional and wellness consulting company, Nourishing Root, which specializes in helping people feel good by understanding how they can eat better. I offer individual dietary and herbal consultations, food preparation, and cooking lessons. My mission is to help people connect to the natural state of health and joy in their bodies and minds so they can live better, happier lives.

Would you share some of your guidelines for ethical consumer practices in the areas of healing, health, nutrition, and food?

I buy as much as possible local, organic, and seasonal whole and unprepared foods with minimal packaging. I shop at the Park Slope Food Co-op, whose produce is largely from local farmers and has excellent labeling so I can make an educated choice. I buy fruits and vegetables across the color palette. I try to buy one vegetable a week that I am less familiar with to promote variety in my diet. Buying one new thing a week, whether it be a vegetable, herb, nut, or seaweed, is a stimulating fun practice for people wanting to learn about new foods or get out of a cooking rut. As much as possible I avoid refined vegetable oils, chemicals, and preservatives. For body care, my ideal is if I can’t eat it, I won’t put it on my skin.  When I buy products, I won’t buy anything with carcinogenic parabens or preservatives.

How can New York City consumers make sound decisions about the food, nutritional, and health products they buy?

Use the best available quality that you can afford. Living here, I am often struck by the diversity of income and the false idea that you have to spend a lot to be healthy. Purchasing is an opportunity to celebrate the abundance of what we do have, and that approach is available to everyone. If I am on a budget, I buy basics cheaply and treat myself to a bunch of vibrant greens, seasonal fruit, or local cheese from the farmer’s market. I trust what excites my senses by smell, color, texture, and over time by what feels good in my body – not just in the fleeting instant gratification of a rich dessert, but what also what gives me sustained energy. Thinking about the quality of energy I receive from healthier food increases its value.

As a resident of New York City since 2003, do you have some tips for fellow New Yorkers?

I like to support local businesses and people living their passion through their business. There is so much available here: CSAs, farmer’s markets, specialty and ethnic food shops and more. With so much choice in the city, I enjoy the ritual of repeated visits to favorite spots, knowing that there are new places to explore right around the corner. As I put money towards what feeds me and my passions, I feel I am participating in the awakening web of our community and a redefinition of resource distribution through which we all have access to the best quality products and nourishment.

Join Emily in creating a more sustainable and ethical New York! Check out our database and find places to shop and eat at that care for community, employees and environment. You can contact Emily at: emcavelier at gmail dot com.

1 Comment »

  1. Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Life is action and passion therefore, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of the time, at peril of being judged not to have lived.”

    Comment by Bailey Garlow — April 24, 2012 @ 3:27 am

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