As part of our ongoing series of conversations with interesting people making the world a better place, BBMG welcomed to our studio Jared Koch, the author and co-founder of Clean Plates: A Guide to the Healthiest, Tastiest and Most Sustainable Restaurants. Following Deepak Chopra’s remark that “Jared’s nutritional advice has the power to transform your individual health and our collective well-being,” we were eager to hear what Jared had to say about his personal journey, as well as the steps we can take to eat better and take better care of our minds and bodies. Here are excerpts from our chat:
How did you become involved in nutrition? What were your eating habits like before?
A few converging factors led to my involvement with nutrition. When I graduated from college, I sold my event entertainment business I’d developed with my brother, which was 11 years old at the time. I considered going to medical school because I had already been accepted and I thought it would be a good idea to go back to school. Since I had chronic digestive issues someone suggested I take a course in nutrition, which seemed like a reasonable suggestion. My eating habits at the time were pretty poor. I ate out or ordered in from restaurants all the time and my only context for choosing what to eat was what I was in the mood for.
What is Clean Plates and what is its mission?
Clean Plates is the only nutritionist- and food critic-approved guide to the healthiest, tastiest and most sustainable restaurants. We discover and recommend the best of better-for-you eating including recipes, advice, products, restaurants and inspiring people and companies. Our mission is to make it easy and enjoyable for people to eat better.
One of the major takeaways from our discussion here was the importance of bio-individuality. Can you talk a little bit about what that means?
I explain bio-individuality in a couple of ways. It means there is more than one right way to eat. Or said differently, the foods that are right (or not right) for my body are different than the foods that are right (or not right) for your body. There is no particular way of eating that works for everyone. There are many factors that influence which foods are right for our particular bodies (genetics, gender, age, sensitivities, cultural background, current environment, etc) and our particular needs can also change over time. The good news is we don’t need to continue chasing every popular diet. The bad news is it puts the responsibility on each of us to become more aware of what we are eating and what’s working well. Eventually, I think there will be better testing to help us more easily determine what is best for us but for now that doesn't exist so there is no simple way. It's a journey of experimentation and exploration.
What do you think the biggest obstacle is in making healthy, nutritious eating the American norm?
More people are becoming aware that food is the most important thing you can do to be healthy, which is a great thing. But of course, there are a lot of flaws in the food system that need to be addressed over time. To me, making it easier for people to have access to better (and affordable) choices will play a major role in making nutritious eating the norm. The good news is that is starting to happen — people are becoming more conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies, given that issues like obesity and the cost of healthcare have come to the forefront.
What's next for Clean Plates?
We are starting a blog to expand our email offering — we think it is a great way to stay in touch with our community and share everything we are discovering. And we’re going to be rolling out nationwide guides (not just local) giving you advice, tricks and tips. This is really exciting because currently our guides are centered on New York City and Los Angeles, but we really want to bring the mission to a larger audience.