Monday, December 1, 2014

What drove me to pursue a career in holistic health

Growing up with a single working mother, I quickly learned how to be independent and took on a lot of chores from a very young age.  One of these responsibilities involved helping my mom cook dinner.  She knew the importance of never skimping on organic produce, so she made an effort to spend the money on clean ingredients.  No matter how busy my mom was, she always packed me healthy lunches (at the time, all I really wanted were the HoHos and Lunchables my friends had).  Looking back, I am grateful she showed me the importance eating nourishing food.

As soon as I went off to college, I developed some seriously bad eating and drinking habits.  I discovered tater tots and Sailor Jerry's.  At some point during my freshman year of college, I starting having terrible abdominal pain.  It wasn't until my junior year when I moved off campus and began cooking healthy meals for myself again that I realized all these bad habits were taking a toll on my health.  After I graduated, I moved to Wyoming and Vail, working at the resorts there.  I am fortunate that we were given staff meals at these jobs, but the food always made my coworkers and I feel lethargic.  We would make double and triple shot espresso drinks to compensate for our lack of energy, which was only a temporary remedy.

I took charge of my health and started packing my own meals to take into work. How is it that our country's largest ski resort owner and operator can't afford to feed its employees nutrient-rich food to sustain us through our shifts? This really pissed me off.  People from all over the country and South America drop serious cash on expensive ski vacations in the Rockies, only to be served expensive meat-heavy, carb-loaded brain fogging dishes that weigh you down.  In reality, these restaurants should be serving up healthy, warming meals that will give you the energy to cruise the mountain all day long. How do you enjoy life fully if you can't feel your best?!  These were some of the driving forces for my decision to become a holistic chef.

Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, has implemented some health-minded changes into the Colorado Resorts and for that I am thankful.  His children have celiacs disease, so his family cannot have gluten.  All the resorts in Colorado have gluten free options at the on-mountain dining locations. The company actually saved a local bakery in the front range by placing large orders of gluten free buns for Vail Resorts' restaurants. Katz's wife, Elana of Elana's Pantry, is a Paleo chef who has some really wonderful recipes. Maybe VR can start using her recipes in some of their restaurants!  This entire shift is a process, but it needs to be a higher priority.  If you take care of your employees first, the consumers will follow. I would like to help with this shift towards health awareness in the future, but right now, I need to be working in a field where I can make more of a visible difference.  Who wants to join me?!