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Episode 38 – The Food Revolution and What You Need to Know About It
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Jonathan Hunsaker: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Empowering You Organically. I’m your host, Jonathan Hunsaker, joined by my co-host, TeriAnn Trevenen.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Hey, everyone.
Jonathan Hunsaker: We have a very, very special guest, Mr. Ocean Robbins. Ocean, thanks for joining us.
Ocean Robbins: Hey, I’m so glad to be with you both and everyone who’s watching right now.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Absolutely. TeriAnn, will you give us a quick bio?
TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. Ocean Robbins is author of the newly-released book, 31-Day Food Revolution: Heal Your Body, Feel Great, and Transform Your World. He serves as CEO and co-founder of the 500,000+ member Food Revolution Network, one of the largest communities of healthy eating advocates on the planet. Ocean has held hundreds of live seminars and events that have touched millions of lives in 190 nations.
His grandfather founded Baskin Robbins, and his father, John Robbins, walked away from the family company to write best-sellers, like Diet for A New America, and to become a renowned health advocate.
Now, Ocean is on a mission to transform the industrialized food culture into one that celebrates and supports healthy people and a healthy planet.
So again, Ocean, thank you for joining us today. We’re so excited to have you. And I want to ask you, just right out of the gate, your family background’s so interesting, from where your family came from to where you are now. Talk a little bit about what your life was like growing up, your journey into health, and where you are now, so that people really understand how you came to found the Food Revolution Network, but all the way back to the beginning of where you learned about natural health and food and how it impacts our lives.
Ocean Robbins: Absolutely. Well, as you mentioned in my bio, my grandpa founded an ice cream company, 31 flavors, Baskin Robbins, and my dad, John, grew up with an ice cream cone-shaped swimming pool in the back yard, and 31 flavors of ice cream in the freezer. He was groomed from early childhood to one day join in running the family company.
When he was in his early 20s, he was offered that chance, and he said no, and he walked away from a path that was practically paved with gold and ice cream, to, as we jokingly say in our family, follow his own rocky road. He ended up moving with my mom, to a little island off the coast of Canada, where they built this one-room log cabin.
They grew most of their own food, they practiced yoga and meditation for several hours a day, and they named their kid Ocean. Yeah, of course, that would be me. And they almost named me Kale, by the way. That was before kale was cool. So, I’ve got to tell you, on behalf of my future social life, I am glad they took the more conservative route when they named their son.
TeriAnn Trevenen: They were cool before kale was cool, though. They would have been setting the trend.
Ocean Robbins: I know, right? Yeah.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I know you are grateful, but they would have like been ahead of the times with that, by the way.
Ocean Robbins: Way ahead of the times.
Jonathan Hunsaker: I like the name Kale.
Ocean Robbins: Thank you. Maybe some viewers will adopt it for future children. Who knows?
TeriAnn Trevenen: There you go. You’re going to start a trend now. Look what you did, opened a can of worms.
Ocean Robbins: Yeah, but in any case, we did eat a lot of kale and other veggies in the garden. And then when I was a little older, we moved to California, and my dad began researching a book called A Diet for A New America, which came out in 1987. And it became this runaway best-seller. It inspired millions of people to look at food as a chance to make a difference in the world.
And the media had a lot of fun with the story. They called my dad “The rebel without a cone,” among other things. And he inspired millions of people, including, as fate would have it, my own grandpa, Irvin Robbins, who wound up practically on death’s door, being given a copy of my dad’s book by his cardiologist and told to read it, which my grandpa did, and he followed its advice, and he saved his life. He added 20 more healthy years.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Wow!
Jonathan Hunsaker: Wow!
Ocean Robbins: And so, we’ve seen in our family that when we follow the standard American diet, we get the standard American diseases. My grandpa was suffering from heart disease and diabetes, and all these other ailments. He had lost his brother-in-law, Burt Baskin, years earlier, to a heart attack. And we’ve also seen what can happen when we make a change, which is tremendous and profound.
And so, I was inspired by my dad’s example and wound up founding a nonprofit in my teen years, called YES!, and we worked with young leaders in over 65 countries around the globe. And I traveled the world for 20 years trying to empower young people to stand up for healthy lives and a healthy world. And what I saw was that everybody eats, and that what we eat has this huge impact.
And I saw that KFC, McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, were spreading around the world, so were pesticides, factory farms, industrialized agriculture, spreading around the world. And as that was happening, waistlines were filling up, and hospitals were getting filled up, and more and more people were suffering from the diseases that we see in the industrialized world, but that which were—they were relatively rare in places like China, India, Africa, but now they’re spreading with our way of eating.
And eventually, I decided I needed to focus on food. So, I joined with my dad in launching Food Revolution Network eight years ago, and we’ve been mobilizing people all over the planet, millions of people, for healthy, ethical, sustainable food. And we’re just getting started. But that’s kind of a little bit of my background, and you can see, I’m a little passionate about this topic.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah, I mean it’s awesome. People need to be more passionate about it. We see that as time goes on, and everything you said, and we see so many places, especially in America, where we have the downfall of health happening. A lot of it can be attributed to food. And so, really, when I listen to your story, you realized as a teenager what a bit issue this was, and how much we needed to change this, in the way we eat and everything, which is really powerful, because I think there’s a lot of adults who don’t even realize how important what we put in our body, what we put on our body, matters.
So, really, it’s a very powerful story, and I absolutely love what you’re doing. So, Food Revolution Network has been a huge passion for you. It’s been something that has touched so many people, it’s impacted so many people’s lives. Tell us al title bit about what people will find at Food Revolution Network as far as how you’re helping people to change the world through food, and what you’re doing there, and what your mission is when it comes to Food Revolution Network, just above and beyond changing food, how you really help the individual.
Ocean Robbins: Well, the way I look at it is that food is medicine, or it can also be poison. And unfortunately, the way that we’re eating today is literally like digging our own graves with our knives and forks. The Global Burden of Disease is a study, it’s a report produced by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. Researchers at University of Washington lead this.
And every year, they review the major causes of death and disease in basically every country in the world, and they analyze hundreds of causes of death and disease, and they analyze what people are dying from, and they look at all the data. And this is a major report, dozens and dozens of researchers are on it full-time. And their most recent report concluded that the American diet killed 672,000 people in the United States last year. Worldwide, food is killing more than 11 million people per year, poor food choices. And so, in the US alone, we have more deaths from what we’re eating than the number of Americans who died in World War 1, World War 2, both Iraq wars, Afghanistan War, Vietnam War, Korean War, combined.
But this time, it isn’t another country, it’s our own knives and forks, and what we’re doing with them. And so, our mission in Food Revolution Network is very literally to save lives and to help more people to have this life-saving information. And the good news is, that you don’t have to be dependent on doctors, or big food business, or big Agribusiness, or big pharma, to take responsibility for your health by making the right food choices.
And when you do, you can slash your risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, you can slash your risk of Alzheimer’s by 90 percent. And this is stunning. When you think about all the people that are suffering and dying from the diseases I just named, to be able to turn those around, to be able to do something, to say, “No, it’s not about genetics, it’s not about luck, and we don’t have to be victims here, it’s about the choices we make, and we can radically improve our health just by making different choices.”
I mean I think that’s such an empowering message. So, we want to share this, and we want to help people apply it. Because here’s the thing. A lot of people don’t just struggle with knowing what to do, they struggle with doing what they know. I mean let’s face it. If all that was needed was for us to know what we need to eat, more vegetables and less sugar and processed junk, we would not have a health epidemic right now.
Because everyone knows that, pretty much, right? But we’re not doing it. And this is because a lot of people are actually addicted to processed foods, to junk foods, and we are basically in love with foods that don’t love us back. We’re in abusive relationships. And so, one of our goals in Food Revolution Network is, yes, to share the information, because knowledge can be power, but also, in the information age, I don’t think it’s enough anymore. I think we need clarity, and I think we need action. And our goal is to help everybody have the clarity and the action so that they can get the results they want.
And I wrote a book called 31-Day Food Revolution, as you mentioned earlier, which really is my effort to put all this knowledge into a distilled form so you can take action. So, there are 31 chapters in 31-Day Food Revolution. Each one ends with simple steps you can take to put what you’re learning into action in generally a few minutes, and you can get results, and you can make progress.
And I’m saying that, in the long run, 31 steps to health will bring you more pleasure, even than 31 flavors of ice cream.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I love it. You know what’s so interesting is I get this question from people all the time when they find out what it is that I do for a living, and what our mission is all about, “How do I do it? Where do I start?” And for people like us who’ve been in this for so long, it’s so much easier just to say, “Well, this is what I did, this is what I did.”
But for a lot of people, they don’t even know what steps to take to change their life, because this is not common mainstream information. A lot of people are eating processed foods and sugars and junk foods, and it seems like it’s normal, it’s the norm to do that, when we’ve really got to change the way that people see food. And it can be hard for people to take those steps.
So, I love that you make it simple for people. Read a chapter, here’s an action that you can take. Because a lot of people are lost on how to change their health journey, and it seems like it should be easy, but with all the options that are out there that are so bad for us, it’s actually a lot harder than we realize. And the basic question people ask, “Where do I start?”
And so, I love that you’re doing that for people, and giving them that information. And I love what you said about choice in our health. We talk about that so much as a common theme here on our podcast, that you have choice in your health. No one can do what you can do for yourself when it comes to your health. So, I think it’s such an important message that you’re sharing with the world. It’s just so powerful for where we are as a nation right now, as the world as a whole, what we need to do to change our health, change our bodies.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of things you touched on, Ocean, that I want to talk about, I don’t’ know if we have the time to. And I lived in Panama, I lived in Chile, and this spread of the standard American diet is going there, it’s unfortunate, from the fast-food chains that are popping up, and they’re becoming the most popular place to eat in those places, because it’s American, or whatever it is. And it’s all junk.
And you mentioned something else, addiction. It’s the food addiction that we have. And we’ve talked about addiction on this podcast before. I smoked for 20 years, addicted to food and sugar, to a certain extent as well. There’s alcohol addiction. I mean it all goes in that same thing, that comfort, whether it’s through smoking, or drinking, or eating bad.
And if you don’t think you’re addicted to bad food, or that it’s not a lot of influence, do a water fast for a day, and drive down the road, and see how tempted you are at every KFC, McDonald’s, junk food out there, that’s like “Food! Food” It’s screaming at you, “Food!” everywhere. Unfortunately, what, five percent are actually good, healthy choices that show up in our peripheral vision as we’re driving down the road.
So, I mean talk to us. Give us, give our audience some really good usable information. Like what can they start doing right now to create a food revolution in their own life? And what are some simple changes that they’re going to start feeling different with right away?
Ocean Robbins: Well, the critical components of any journey are you look at where you are, you look at where you’re going, and then you create a map for that route. If—your GPS, when you’re getting directions, has to know those three things, right? The terrain, your current location, and your destination.
And so, depending on where you are, and depending on what your destination actually is, your route’s going to be different. But I think the critical thing is to clarify what your motivation is, what your big “WHY” is, what your goals are, what you’re going for. Do you want to fight disease? Do you want to optimize your health? Do you want to have more muscle? Do you want to look good? Do you want to feel good? Do you want to do good?
Some people choose to base their food choices around their social impact, their environmental impact. They don’t want farm workers poisoned in the fields, they don’t want animals tortured in factory farms, they don’t want to contribute to climate change or destabilization of our topsoil or our water supply for future generations.
So, these are all factors that play in for people. But I think that a lot of us want to be healthy, we want to fight disease, and we want to contribute to a healthier world, all at the same time. And it turns out, that with food, you can do all of that. So, the core principles that I advocate for just about everybody are, number one, eat less sugar and processed junk, number two, eat less animal products, especially when they come from factory farms, and number three, eat more whole plant foods, and then the fourth principle is conscious sourcing.
It matters where your food comes from, it matters how it was produced, it matters if it was genetically engineered, or saturated with neurotoxic pesticides, or full of hormones and antibiotics, or if it was produced in a clean way with respect for the earth and respect for your health. And so, these are all factors that weigh-in, and I like to support foods as a vote. I think that every food choice, every bite I take is a vote for the health I want and for the world I want. And you can vote, at the end of the day, for cancer and diabetes and the status quo, or you can vote for health and vitality and a brighter future for yourself and future generations.
And the same food choices that are good for you also happen to be good for your world, because guess what? Poison is bad for everything.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah, absolutely.
Ocean Robbins: Nourishment and nutrients are good for everything. And this is why it matters so much that we take the power into our own hands. So, that’s kind of the high level of it. And then if you want to look at how you can make progress, if you’re eating kind of the standard American diet, and you want to take some steps, the first step is to get rid of the bad guys, clear out your cupboards, get rid of the Doritos and the Coke and the processed stuff, and the junk. If you don’t have it around, you’re a lot less likely to eat it.
And then make a good shopping list of some healthy stuff and fill your cupboards and your fridge with good stuff that’s actually healthy.
And then another healthy step is to get some good recipes that you like. Find some recipes that are healthy, that are wholesome, that are nourishing. Most of us, honestly, only have 5 or 10 things we make regularly, and then once in a while, we get creative. But you tend to fall back on the stuff you have memorized, that you can almost make in your sleep.
And so, if you can change your starting rotation by adding even one really healthy thing to the mix, and make that once a week or twice a week, or make extras on the weekend, then you’ve got leftovers all week long, you’re starting to crowd out the bad stuff with the good stuff. We tend to fall down late at night when we’re tired at the end of a long day, when we’re stressed out, and that’s when we slip into bad habits. So, the key thing is you want to create safety nets by having healthy foods available at all times, that are ready to go. In five minutes or less, you should be able to munch something that’s good for you. I don’t know anybody who’s like “Oh my god, I had a horrible kale binge last night. I was up until 12:30 watching soap opera reruns, munching on kale.” Because if that happens, guess what? More power to you. You’re doing good.
Jonathan Hunsaker: I know a lot of people that have kale binges.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I was going to say.
Jonathan Hunsaker: That’s my guess, just in a good way.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Kale is a theme with his life today, too. Kale is the theme of the day. I love it so much. You know what? You touch on some really good things, and I want you to dive a little bit further. First, you said you vote with your choices. Let’s take that one step further. You vote with your dollar, too, because what we’re buying in the grocery store impacts what farmers are producing, what manufacturers and suppliers are producing as far as food goes.
So, that sparks the question, a lot of people, I believe this for myself, when I got into eating healthy, eating organic, it’s so expensive. What are some tips that you have? I know you talk about this is your book. What are some tips that you have around eating organic on a budget? Because that’s, I think that’s one of the first things people bring up around organic. It is, organic is getting less expensive, but it’s still on the higher-end of the pricing scale when it comes to food. What’s your tips and suggestions there for people?
Ocean Robbins: Okay, so first of all, we don’t—none of us want a whole foods diet to take a whole paycheck. And the reality is, that right now, healthy food costs more. And I want to just acknowledge a couple reasons why. We actually have a government subsidy system in place right now, where the US taxpayer, and this is true in countries around the world, but I’ll focus on the US for this moment, we subsidize junk food with tens of billions of dollars a year, subsidizing what’s called commodities crops.
So, Twinkies has 14 subsidized ingredients. Wonder Bread is subsidized. High fructose corn syrup is subsidized. Factory farmed meat is subsidized by the taxpayer, because we’re subsidizing production of corn, soy, wheat, other commodities crops that are then used for all of the processed foods in use today. Now this is kind of crazy if you ask me. I have no problem with supporting farmers who are working hard to feed us. I think that’s a wonderful thing. But why is it that we are effectively subsidizing the junk food and not subsidizing the nuts, the legumes, the fruits and vegetables that we know we should be eating more of? And instead, we’re subsidizing the junk. It’s like you’re being fined for wearing your seatbelt if you want to do the right thing for your family.
Now the same is true with organics, because right now if an organically-certified farmer wants to get that certification, they’ve got to pay for the regulatory burden in order to be certified. And somebody who’s dousing their field with pesticides doesn’t have as much of a regulatory burden as the organic farmer, who’s doing the right thing.
So, if we just flip that on its head, let’s suppose that the people using the pesticides and the poisons in agriculture had to pay for the regulatory burden, and the organic farmers had a smaller burden because they’re, after all, growing food in a safer way, then suddenly, the price would flip overnight. However, in the context we’re in, there’s still a lot you can do.
So, let’s suppose you want to eat healthy on a budget. So, top tips are, number one, the most expensive calories you will ever eat are the ones that make you sick. The last time I checked, cancer was pretty expensive, heart disease was pretty expensive, so was Alzheimer’s. If you eat healthy food, you’ll have more energy, you’ll have more vitality, you’ll be more lean, you’ll be more clear in your mind, and that’s good for your bottom line.
The second most expensive calories that we ever consume are the ones that we waste because we don’t eat them because they’re excess calories. The average American is eating about 500 calories a day too much. And this is fueled by the processed foods. So, Doritos might look cheap, but if it’s giving you cancer, it’s not cheap, and if it’s making you eat more than just one, in fact, if you can’t stop and you devour the whole bag, and it’s calories you didn’t need, it’s not cheap either.
So, number three is we want to steer clear of excess restaurants, because a lot of eating out costs a premium. Now I love eating out, don’t get me wrong. It’s fun, I like letting someone else do the cleanup, and I like tasting new things. But I reserve it for special occasions. I don’t base my diet around it because it costs about two or three times as much per calorie as making food yourself.
And then another big tip is go organic with the dirty dozen. The most pesticide-contaminated foods, according to Environmental Working Group are what they call the “Dirty Dozen.” But you can be a little more relaxed with some of the other foods. Generally, foods that have a shell around them that you don’t eat, whether we’re talking bananas, or mangoes, or papayas, or pineapple, or avocados, coconuts, a lot of those are tropical, but melons, those kinds of things, where you peel the outside, that tends to deal with a lot of the pesticide contamination.
So, if you’re on a budget and you have to pick and choose, the Environmental Working Group has what they call the “Clean 15,” which are the foods that are the least pesticide-contaminated. And in terms of your own health and safety, and your family’s, those don’t matter as much.
And then I also look at cooking in quantity. Because time and money are interconnected here, right? When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to eat out, you’re more likely to grab convenience foods.
So, cook in quantity. Don’t ever just make one meal at a time, at least with your staples. If you’re making a pot of legumes, make a big pot of legumes. Have it around in the fridge for a few days, and you can add it to different things. Same with a big pot of quinoa, or some rice, or amaranth, or buckwheat, or whatever else you might be having. Even kale. You can make extra. Have it in the fridge, and then add it to everything. Just slop it on top, you know?
So, we like doing that. We make sauces. We also use the freezer. We put frozen soups and other things in glass containers in the freezer, and they’re ready to go whenever we want them, and it’s really nice to kind of pay it forward and prepare. You can also cook for extra—extra for people you love in your community. Do a potluck kind of thing at work. You can have “Monday, I’ll bring food. On Tuesday, you’ll bring food, and we share.” It’s nice to build community and connection around food. These things can all help make it easier and more affordable.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Love it.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Yeah, and I think one of the things that you really touched on is how many calories we’re eating. When you make that pivot to eating organic, eating healthier food, non-factory farmed meats, different things like that, the nutrient density is so much higher.
And so, you don’t need as much food, right? When you go out to McDonald’s or someplace like that, and you’re eating, and you’re still—your stomach might feel full, but you didn’t get a lot of nutrients from it, so your body’s craving more. So now, you’re still hungry, or it’s got tons of salt in it. And so, now you’ve eaten 1,800 calories at McDonald’s, two hours later, your body’s still craving something else, so you go eat more, and we’re just stacking the calories.
And to realize that when you make the pivot to organic and eating the whole food plant-based, you’re getting so much more nutrients, you don’t need 2,500 calories to thrive. You can get by on 1,500 calories and get all of the nutrients that your body really needs.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah. Well, and you mentioned, too, I think another important point that you said, you’re paying $2 or $3 more per calorie than you would, eating out, going somewhere like that, than you would making your own food. Even though it seems that organic is more expensive, in the long run, if you’re running around picking up food, fast food places and restaurants, you’re probably spending more.
And then also, with your health. Have you ever done a “Day in the life” of your life, coming down to what you eat and your diet, your food? I was thinking that while you were talking, you were talking about how you prepare your food, and all of those things, and I was like “I would love to be a fly on the wall for a week in your kitchen.” What’s your fridge look like? And what meals do you prepare? It just popped into my head. It would be so fascinating, because I know like you live and breathe this, and I can’t even imagine what your fridge looks like. I’m sure it’s full of fruits and veggies.
Ocean Robbins: We do eat a lot of fruits and veggies, it’s true. And yeah, we shop at a farmer’s market right down the street.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Love it.
Ocean Robbins: But we also go to—we have a CSA, community-supported agriculture. So, every week, we get a big order of whatever the farm has available, and it’s our kind of family mission to make sure we eat everything in the CSA every week, so we don’t waste it.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I love it, I love it, so awesome.
Ocean Robbins: And my favorite breakfast is a chia porridge. I make it the night before. I soak chia seeds in some unsweetened soymilk, homemade usually, or soy yogurt that I make myself, organic. And then I add in some blueberries, vanilla extract, a little dash of maple syrup, some nuts chopped up, stir all that together.
Jonathan Hunsaker: We’re filming this at lunchtime.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I mean living and breathing everything you’re talking about. There was one other thing you touched on that I would like you to talk a little bit about, and that’s humane food sources. And I specifically want to talk about meat and fish, because this is one place where people, there’s a lot of confusion. People are not as educated as they should be. Talk a little bit about your experience with this, and what you would tell people around consuming meats and fish, how you can do it in a humane way, and what the most clean way is to add these things into your diet when you’re talking about organic and your health. What does that look like for people?
Ocean Robbins: Okay. Let’s talk about meat for a second. So, my—I’m a big fan of less meat, and if you’re going to eat meat, then better meat. And so, from an environmental resource standpoint, meat takes more resources, because any time you move up the food chain, animals need a certain amount of calories that they have to consume, and they’re going to produce less calories, because some of it’s going to go to hoof and hide and bone and energy the animal uses to move, and manure, right?
So, it’s an inherently somewhat inefficient system, when we’re feeding them food that could have been fed to humans. Now there’s a certain amount of grazing lands that’s growing grass, and well-managed livestock can graze on that land sustainably when it’s done in certain ecosystems. But the amount of meat that can be produced in that way is limited.
And with seven billion going on eight billion humans on the planet, we can’t afford to—we don’t have enough land to provide for meat in the current levels of consumption, especially in the industrialized world, in that way. We’d have to cut down all the rainforests and all the forests of the planet, and we still wouldn’t have enough.
So, at the end of the day, we have to cut down, because the factory farming system is also really destructive. But we also need to go with better meat for those who are going to eat it, because some people still will. And the factory farming system is profoundly cruel. Animals are being pumped full of hormones and antibiotics just to keep them alive under despicable conditions.
We have chickens that never see the sun, never see a blade of grass in their lives. They’re packed together in such close quarters that they go crazy, they try to peck each other to death, so the industry responds by cutting off their beaks, so they won’t be able to succeed when they try. They are sitting in their own feces.
One chicken farmer I spoke with, as I was researching my book, Craig Watts, working for Perdue, he was an award-winning producer in North Carolina. He said that five percent of the birds died before slaughter because the conditions were so terrible. They’re sitting in their own feces. They get so morbidly obese they can’t walk. Their feathers are falling off, they’re covered with sores, and they’re lying there in poop. And five percent of them are dead. So, there’s dead birds littered around the warehouse, and dying birds everywhere. And this is where our food’s coming from. So, no wonder it’s not healthy for humans, no wonder 80 percent of our chicken meat is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, most of it resistant to antibiotics. And we’re putting 80 percent of our antibiotics into the livestock industry in the US, which is breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which killed 20,000 Americans last year. This is an insane system.
And so, I say no to the factory farming system, and I say if you’re going to eat meat, make sure it’s coming from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals. And let me be clear about what those terms mean. Organic means that an animal was not given hormones or antibiotics and was fed organic feed. It doesn’t mean it lived humanely. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not the whole enchilada, so to speak.
And then we have terms like—a lot of terms that the industry puts out, that mean basically nothing. But pasture-raised means something. In the case of chickens, for example, a bird that’s free-range was given at least 2 ½ square feet. A regular bird might have been given 1 square foot. A cage-free bird might be given 1 ½ square feet. Free-range might be 2 ½ square feet.
Pasture-raised means 108 square feet. It’s a whole different thing. That’s the real thing. That means they actually ran around outside. Grass-fed means something with beef. It means they actually ate grass instead of grain and soybeans, which inherently means they have to be outside, because—in order to eat grass, right?
So, those are the terms you want to be looking for, along with the USDA organic certification, if you’re going to eat meat. And if you’re going to eat fish, then let’s keep in mind that we’re strip-mining our oceans in a very unsustainable way, and we’re polluting them. So, fish today is contaminated with large amounts of heavy metals, PCPs, and all kinds of contaminants and poisons, and the lowest mercury, lowest heavy metal fish are going to be sardines, anchovies, herring, and also, wild salmon.
But a lot of our fish is coming from farms nowadays, and those farms are just like the factory farming system. It takes five pounds of seafood to make one pound of a farmed fish. They’re putting antibiotics into the water, so the fish don’t die, and they’re adding pink color to farmed salmon’s water so that it won’t be grey because they’re not feeding it its natural diet.
So, probably, if you’re hearing all this, and you care about your health and the health of the world, then you probably want to move away from farmed fish if you can. And there are some farms that are doing things better, but it’s not regulated right now. So, it’s kind of like the Wild West. And for the most part, you want to go with the wild stuff, if you’re going to eat fish at all. And again, we want to cut down. So, I’m a big fan of less meat, and if you’re going to eat meat, better meat. And those are some of the general guidelines that might be helpful.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Yeah, I think it’s phenomenal advice. I think it’s absolutely disgusting what’s happening in the factory farms. Not to mention the stress hormones that are released when they slaughter the animal, and all those stress hormones go into that meat, and then you consume that meat, and we’re already in an over-stressed society as it is.
I’m a big fan, if you’re going to eat animal products, to look at pasture-raised eggs. The chicken’s going to lay the eggs either way. And so, for me, that’s a very humane way to get the animal products. I’m very much against the factory farming of fish.
And I’m with you. I personally do consumer some meat products, but I believe that less is more. I’m very much into elk or something that is not a factory-farmed type of animal. And it’s not an every meal type of thing. We don’t need that much of it.
It’s interesting, because we launched a product about a year and a half ago, a cricket super fuel, because I agree, it’s not going to be sustainable. And I am not opposed to consuming crickets. And I don’t think we’re quite ready for that kind of a diet, but it’s a very high-protein diet, has high in the B12 vitamins that it’s hard to get from just straight vegetarian diet and things like that, and it’s much more humane. They’re actually free-range crickets, and they’re fed a USDA-certified organic diet. And as weird as all that sounds, but to me, that’s sustainability. It’s where we’re going to be in a few years.
Again, I don’t think we’re ready for it. But I think that people really need to get consciously aware of, if you go through that drive-thru line and you can get five or six nuggets for $0.99, what are you really eating? What kind of chicken are you eating that’s $1, right? For five or six nuggets. You know what I mean?
Ocean Robbins: Yeah.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Just it’s not chicken, you know?
TeriAnn Trevenen: It’s not chicken.
Jonathan Hunsaker: It may look like one at one point, or its DNA may kind of represent one, but what we’ve done to these birds, what we’ve done to all of these animals, it’s disgusting. And we can do something about it, which is, like you say, voting with your dollar. Where do you spend your money? Where do you choose to put that money can put some of those other places out of business, or they have to do it differently so that they can stick with the trends of what the people really want.
TeriAnn Trevenen: And the rabbit hole goes even further, too. Joni, who actually manages and produces our podcasts for us, told me the other day, she does this amazing—she goes through this amazing company to get her meat, and they’re very committed to humane methods when it comes to your meat, clean meat. And she had read something about dipping chicken in chlorine when they’re processing in the manufacturing process, and this woman was so committed to like “We’re not going to have meat that’s been dipped in chlorine.”
We don’t even know this, in so many ways. So many people aren’t even educated. Like yes, there’s inhumane ways of raising and producing the meat, but then it goes one step further. What happens after that to preserve it and make it so that you can continue to keep it in your fridge, and it doesn’t go bad? I mean the rabbit hole goes so deep, and all of it impacts our health.
So, I think this is a good segue into is there hope for the food revolution? What can we do? And what does that look like in your mind? You’re in this day in and day out. Where is the hope when it comes to the food revolution?
Ocean Robbins: This is one of the bright lights, I think, in our world right now. There’s a lot of problems, we all see all around us. But food is changing, and we get to be a part of it. So, the biggest hope is that you don’t have to be a victim of the status quo. And as bad as things are, that’s how much better they can be with a change.
By choosing to eat lower on the food chain, by choosing to eat more whole plant foods, by choosing to eat more organically-grown foods, by saying no to GMOs and pesticides and glyphosate, and factory farms, you can say yes to more vibrant health for yourself, for your loved ones, you can help to ignite the revolution in the world.
We are part of a radical change right now. Sales of organic food, sales of non-GMO food, sales of natural foods, are all skyrocketing. Community-supported agriculture programs are growing. Farmer’s markets are growing. More and more people care where that food comes from, how it was produced. Even young people are starting to take an interest in growing food again.
In the United States, we’ve had a steady decline in the number of farms in America over the course of the last century. In the last few years, that’s started to tip back the other way. There are more and more community gardens, more and more church gardens, more and more school gardens. More and more kids are getting involved in growing food.
And I think this is really hopeful. And the beautiful thing is that when you make a healthier food choice for yourself, you actually start to redirect your dollars, and you start to change the way food is grown, there becomes a higher demand for that healthier food, and then farmers start to plant different crops, and more farmers get with the program, so to speak, and the food industry is changing as well.
I’ve spent some time in the last few years working with major players in the food industry, from Nestle to Coca-Cola to Mars to General Mills, and what we’ve seen is that these companies are scared, because they’ve lost the trust of the consumer. And their mother ships, their core brands are tanking. Sales of sugary cereals are going down. Sales of sugary soft drinks are going down.
And these companies are having to diversity. The way they’re doing it, interestingly enough, is by buying up the natural foods industry. So, 80 percent of the natural brands you’ll see in a Whole Foods or any natural food store, are now owned by mega-corporate food companies that also make all the junk you see out there.
And that can be unsettling to somebody like me, who really values integrity and ethics in the companies I support, but what I do like about it is that the big brands are now getting invested in the natural foods industry, so they’re not—they’re not fighting it anymore. They’re realizing this is part of the future, and they’re trying to hedge their bets, and now, they’re also using their huge distribution mechanisms to spread the natural foods. So, it’s easier than it ever was to buy organic.
Jonathan Hunsaker: They’re not changing a lot of the formulas, they’re not changing a lot of the sourcing when they buy the smaller companies, are they?
Ocean Robbins: No, I mean it varies. There are—generally, they’re recognizing that the smaller company built up a brand around integrity and values, and they don’t want to lose that market share. But there are definitely places where they do change the sourcing. One of the things that scares me a bit is how even organic is—a lot of organic foods are now grown in China, for example.
And while there is a good regulatory mechanism in place for the USDA organic program, it’s not perfect. And we know that companies like Wal-Mart are going to try to cut costs. And so, they’re lobbying, now that they are one of the largest organic sellers in America, they’re now lobbying, with considerable clout, to drag the standards down a little bit, which would make it cheaper for them to buy organic-certified foods because they’re not quite as high quality.
So, we have to be vigilant, we have to keep paying attention. And if you can, support the local farmers and the local farmer’s markets, and so forth, as much as possible, and the independent natural food stores, because those are often folks who got into it for the right reasons, and I want to invest in them. But I also respect that, at the end of the day, if folks can make money doing the right thing, I think that’s a good thing, too.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely, yeah. And I agree with you. I think there is a lot of hope there. I think the other side of the story and the conversation is that there’s a lot of money behind the things that are making us sick, and we’re winning that war, too. Finally, we’re calling people out for the ways that they’ve impacted our food industry, and they’re paying for it.
And rightfully so, because so many people have been behind making America, and the world, sick. And I think we’re starting to win that war slowly but surely. And I love what you said, just being educated on Wal-Mart and what they’re trying to do there, where your dollar goes matters. And supporting those people who are smaller and more local, it’s going to continue to bring hope into our food and the way we eat. So, I love that. So, I want to touch on one more thing with you. You’re not just about changing the individual and their health through food, but you’re also giving back. Talk a little bit about how you’re giving back through the Food Revolution Network and your book.
Ocean Robbins: Okay, absolutely. Well, we have a program, we work with Trees For The Future, and we actually fund the planting of an organic food or nut tree in a low-income community with every single product we ever sell, including every copy of 31-Day Food Revolution, every new copy anybody buys, we fund the planting of another organic food or nut tree.
And that’s just a really good feeling, to be able to contribute to more people having access to healthy food in their communities. And so, we’re proud to participate in that. And I think that giving back, participating in building a healthier world is just kind of fundamental to the DNA of who we are as human beings, you know?
We’re not just isolated consumers, out for number one against everybody else. We’re interconnected. And what you eat connects you to all of life, where it was produced, and how it was grown. It becomes you. It’s so intimate and personal, and it’s also very political. And so, I am passionate about bridging the personal and the political and looking at how it all intersects and letting our food choices become a vote for that healthier world we want. And one of the ways we do that is partnering with Trees for The Future, and our work.
And if you’re moved by what this message is in your life, and if you want to activate the food revolution, then the number one thing you can do is live it with your food choices. Make a shopping list of healthy foods, find some recipes that are good for you, and get a good book, like 31-Day Food Revolution, that can guide you on the path, so that you know what to eat and how to do it and how to implement steps, and a good order to take, so that in just a month, you can really revolutionize your food life. I wrote this book specifically to help everybody who wants to take these steps, to make it easy and effective and doable. And so, whether it’s 31-Day Food Revolution or another book, I don’t want to see you a victim of the status quo. So, I want to invite you to step forward and be a participant in this revolution and make it happen in your life.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Love it.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Yeah, Ocean, you’re awesome, man. I respect you greatly. We’ve supported you for years. With previous businesses that I’ve been involved in. I love what you stand for, I love your mission, I love that you finally wrote a book. I just got my copy a couple of days ago. For those that want to get it, go to 31DayFoodRevolution.com.
Join Ocean’s Food Revolution, FoodRevolution.org. It’s been such an honor having you on the podcast. I’d love to have you back again. I love what you stand for. I love your mission. I love everything that you’re saying, and I just think that you are much needed in this world today.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely.
Jonathan Hunsaker: And so, thank you for everything that you do, every single day, for the rest of the world.
Ocean Robbins: Thank you so much. It’s a privilege to have this opportunity, and thank you for bringing organic, healthy nutrients to the world. It’s such an important mission. You talked earlier about how when people—how their nutrient needs are met, they’re less hungry because they’re actually getting their body’s needs met.
And it takes a little time for a body to adjust to that, but that’s the reality, and those critical nutrients are so important. Most people are calorie stuffed but nutrient starved. And you are helping turn that around, and I’m so grateful for it. So, glad to be on the same team with you.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Thank you so much. I have one last question today. We’ve been asking this of people who come on the podcast. I mean you’ve shared so much of your mission and your message, but if you could only say one last thing to the world when it comes to their health, your number one message, and it was the last thing you could ever say, what would you say to people when it comes to choice in their health and a healthier world?
Ocean Robbins: That’s a lot of pressure. What comes to mind right away is food matters. So, make every bite count.
TeriAnn Trevenen: I love that.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Wow.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Powerful.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Powerful, Ocean. Thanks again. Everybody that’s listening, if you want the Show Notes, the transcripts, go to EmpoweringYouOrganically.com. You can enjoy this interview over and over again, read the transcript, Show Notes, get all the links to Ocean’s book, the FoodRevolution.org as well.
I mean just I cannot support you enough in what you’re doing. I cannot be behind you enough in your message. And I just hope everybody listening, if you’re not familiar with Ocean, what he’s doing, go check it out. Pull it up on your phone, go to his website, get his book, go to Amazon, whatever. It’s phenomenal.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us, Ocean. It’s been great to have you today.
Ocean Robbins: My privilege. Thank you.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Thanks, Ocean.
TeriAnn Trevenen: Thanks, everyone.
Jonathan Hunsaker: Cool!
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Episode 38 – The Food Revolution and What You Need to Know About It