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Food Advocate: Kia Robertson, creator of Today I Ate A Rainbow @eatingarainbow #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up!

Today we chat with Kia Robertson, author and creator of Today I Ate A Rainbow, which turns healthy eating into a game for parents to encourage their children to establish great eating habits!

Tell us about yourself:

I am a mom to an amazing 8yr old daughter, the wife of a fantastic husband who is also my business partner in our 3 companies and I’m a recovering picky eater!!!

I created an interactive game called Today I Ate A Rainbow for my daughter and it was so successful that I decided to turn it into a product that could help other families set healthy eating habits!

Tell us about your project/business:

We are so proud of our product Today I Ate A Rainbow, it’s a game that gets kids ASKING to eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies every day! Using a rainbow as a guide, this product makes it easy to understand that kids need to be eating at least 5 different colored fruits and vegetables everyday…they need to Eat A Rainbow! Each color group is packed with a unique set of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients so growing bodies benefit the most from eating from each group.

The Rainbow Kit is an easy to understand concept for children aged 3 and up. It comes with 4 sets of tracking magnets, a laminated fridge chart, a color coded shopping list and a book called The Rainbow Bunch.

Our website is full of tips on how to get kids eating a rainbow, suggestions for picky eating, recipe ideas, insightful blog posts, our kids cooking video series called In The Rainbow Kitchen and our free downloads such as coloring sheets, certificates and our new and free Today I Tried chart that is a visual tool that it can take at least 10 exposures to a new food before it’s accepted!

Hearing from happy parents and educators is always the best part of this job…I know what it’s like to be a picky eater and I also know what it’s like to be a parent who just wants the best for their child so it means a lot to me that our product is making a difference and helping family live healthier lives!

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?

Well this is going to sound rather ironic considering the company I started… but I was an extremely picky eater for most of my life…I rarely ate any vegetables and only ate a few fruits! My mom says I’d go so far as to pick the grated carrots out of carrot cake.

Becoming a mother changed all that in a hurry! I wanted to ensure that she grew up with healthy eating habits and I wanted to be a good role model for her. So I started reading everything I could get my hands on that talked about healthy eating! It has been a long and sometimes uncomfortable journey for me.

Today I eat mainly fruits and vegetables, I juice daily and we make at least 90% of our meals from scratch! I have never felt healthier, happier or stronger than I do now!

What is your earliest memory about food?

My earliest food memory would probably be when I was two years old having a picnic with my mom in our backyard on a warm sunny day eating strawberries and feeling the juice drip down my face :)

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

All of the above :) If I had to choose I would say that supporting local farmers is the most important to me followed closely by organics and then GMO-free foods. It is all so important and makes a difference so we do our best to buy wisely!

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

I would like to see small organic farms getting government subsidies and support from their local communities. I think it’s time we focus on our food choices and how what we choose impacts the earth, our health and our economy. Every family makes a difference when it comes to voting with our forks!

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

We live in an area that is full of vineyards, orchards and farms…we can walk 5 blocks to a local farm and get our eggs, organic honey and veggies. Just down the road from them is a wonderful berry farm. I especially love picking a crispy juice apple off the tree at my parents orchard!

One thing I would change…I’d love to see more organic farms in the area!

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

My favorite ingredients to use would have to be garlic, olive oil, onions and lemons! One or all of those ingredients are in most of our meals!

What are your favorite foods?

My favorite foods: well I recently discovered the joys of juicing so I’m really enjoying all kinds of vegetables and fruits that way! Other than juicing I love my husband’s fresh homemade bread, pretty much all fruits and I love pasta!

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

I am really excited about a new movie out called Hungry For Change, a new book called French Kids Eat Everything from Karen Le Billon (read her Food Advocate interview), and the fact that Spring is finally here and we can start planning out our garden! Oh and I am really enthralled with Pinterest :)

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

I find Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution very inspiring! We watched his tv show as a family, I like to take part in their twitter parties and I am really excited about his upcoming Food Revolution Day on May 19th!

Where can people find you both online and offline?

I’m sharing our rainbow eating message on our

Website: http://www.todayiatearainbow.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TodayIAteARainbow
Twitter: @eatingarainbow
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/eatingarainbow

:)

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

Food Advocate: Lacy Boggs from Laughing Lemon Pie @lacylu42 #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up!

Today we chat with Lacy Boggs, food writer and editor living in Boulder, Colorado, who’s lauching Laughing Lemon Pie today so make sure you drop by to check it out!

Tell us about yourself:

My main roles these days are wife and mom, writer, and foodie! I live with my husband and daughter in Westminster, Colorado—smack dab in between the wonderful foodie cities of Denver and Boulder.

I’m a freelance writer and the food editor at the quirky, hyper-local publication, Yellow Scene Magazine (http://yellowscene.com). It’s a dream job where I get paid to eat at all the best restaurants in Boulder County and hang out with the coolest people on the foodie scene.

I’m also the editor of Colorado Babies magazine, a staff writer for OrganicAuthority.com, and author of my own website, Laughing Lemon Pie, where I write about all things food.

Tell us about your project/business:

My website, Laughing Lemon Pie is for the family foodie who wants to buy, cook, and dine on beautiful, healthy, delicious food—while living the reality of tight budgets, picky eaters, and weeknight soccer practices. I’ll be exploring the fabulous foodie world of Colorado’s Front Range, with recipes, tips, and resources for a everyone, no matter where you live.

I’m also cooking my way through my grandmother’s recipe collection from her 1950’s TV cooking show, “Today’s Kitchen.” It’s a blast updating these retro recipes and bringing them back to the dinner table.

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?

My mother taught me to cook at a young age. My sister and I were always encouraged to help in the kitchen, and taught a little bit about the whys and the hows of cooking as we went along. Both of my grandmothers were amazing cooks, and food has always been a big part of my life.

But as I moved into my job as a food writer, I started to look at food a little more critically. I also started to learn about some of the political and ethical implications surrounding our food systems. It’s made me much more conscious of what I put in my mouth, and a little more choosey when it comes to what I want to spend my money on—both at the grocery store and when choosing a restaurant.

What is your earliest memory about food?

Holidays are a big deal, food-wise, in my family—tons of food, huge spreads, enough to feed the fourth army. My grandmother would cook the turkey, the gravy, and her famous Georgia-style cornbread dressing, and my mom, my sister and I would make all the side dishes and desserts.

Every year my mother would bake dozens (and dozens!) of Christmas cookies and my sister and I would sit at the kitchen table decorate them while she rolled and cut and baked. Some years we even hung them on the tree instead of ornaments, with popcorn and cranberry garlands—and would almost inevitably come home one day to find them all eaten off by the dog! I can’t wait to start that tradition with my little girl.

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

I read a great quote from Mark Bittman recently, in which he said, “the biggest difference is not between a conventionally grown head of broccoli and organically locally grown head of broccoli, the biggest difference is between a head of broccoli and a cheeseburger.” That’s pretty much where I’m at right now, trying to make good choices for my body, my family, and the planet. We’re flexitarians at my house, eating “meat-lite.” Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a great cheeseburger once in a while—’cause I absolutely do!

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

I would love to see congress actually rewrite the Farm Bill and do away with the huge subsidies for corn. I would instead allocate those funds to support family farmers growing fruits and vegetables and increase the funding for healthy food education.

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

Boulder has recently been named one of the “best foodie town in America” and Denver has gotten similar accolades.  We have some of the best restaurants in the country, not to mention an incredible food community of local producers and artisans. Couple all that with the beautiful scenery and amazing weather and I’m pretty much in heaven!

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

I always use good olive oil and butter, lots of garlic, good sea salt and fresh pepper. My pantry is full of grains, dry beans, nuts, whole wheat pasta and chocolate! And my fridge is always full of fresh produce. I always keep some New Mexico green chile in my freezer and a big block of Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar in the fridge for when nacho cravings hit.  My baby girl would eat avocados every day if I let her, so we have to keep those on hand as well!

What are your favorite foods?

When I was pregnant, I craved cheese nachos with guacamole almost constantly, and that hasn’t seemed to abate, even almost a year later! I love all kinds of cheese, fresh bread, peaches, lemons, New Mexico green chile and pinyon coffee, sweet potatoes and French fries. And being a Texas girl at heart, I pine for good Tex-Mex.

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

I’m loving being a mom, to be honest. My daughter is the center of my world in the best possible way. She’s a complete joy to be around, and I adore watching her learn and grow and getting to experience things for the first time again through her. I’m currently deep in the “crazy mom” moments planning her first birthday party! It’s going to be a blast.

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

My 5-year-old nephew was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma leukemia in January, so we’ve all been plunged into the world of childhood cancer like a dunk in a bucked of ice water. I’m really excited by the group Cookies for Kids’ Cancer (http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org) and I want to host a bake sale in the near future.

Where can people find you both online and offline?

Website: http://laughinglemonpie.com
Email: lacy@laughinglemonpie.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LaughingLemonPie
Twitter: @lacylu42
Pinterest: lacylu42
Yellow Scene Magazine: http://yellowscene.com/author/lacyblu

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

Food Advocate: Grace Boyle, from Grace(full) Plate @graceboyle #foodadvocates

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up!

Today we chat with Grace Boyle, blogger Grace(full) Plate and all around food lover who resides in Boulder, CO.

Tell us about yourself:

Georgraphically: I grew up in the Midwest, jumped off to college in Vermont, family all from the East Coast, has lived in Italy and Costa Rica, currently residing at the foot of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado.

Loves: food, travel, my big/outrageous family, laughter, surprises, six degrees of separation, books, glossy magazines, giving hugs, eye contact and smiles with strangers and leaving my mind open like a parachute.

Basics: Italian/Irish with my Italian dual-citizenship. Big dreamer. Spontaneous. Jokester. Driven with two entrepreneurial parents. Grew up meditating and doing yoga in school since age 5 to high school graduation. Startup girl as the Director of Marketing and Sales at Kapost. Believes giving is living and lives by Hunter S. Thompson’s “”Buy the ticket, take the ride.””

Tell us about your project/business:

Grace(full) Plate was launched in October 2010 because my life absolutely revolves around food. I have been blogging and working in the blogging/social media world since 2007 and felt I could marry my two interests.

I believe food is our common thread, it ties us together no matter our beliefs, life path, visions or location.

Grace(full) Plate covers “”culinary indulgence”” talking about recipes, local food news, restaurants and ideas in food. I happen to reside in Boulder, Colorado so I also started Facebook.com/BoulderFoodNews devoted to unbiased food news in Boulder County.

Has your relationship with food evolved over time? How?

Ironcially, I didn’t grow up cooking a lot. My mom used to lament that I was going to grow up without the “”skills”” every Italian woman should know. Yet I loved food. I grew up with my mom and dad, and my mom’s parents (my Nunnie and Popo) cooking most meals from scratch, with most of the produce coming straight from their organic gardens.

I’ve never had a microwave and my mom educated about GMO, genetic engineering and the importance of local/organic far before it was common. I called myself a consumer of food, not a creator of it (in those times growing up).

After college, I found Boulder’s local farm-to-table restaurant scene enticing. I dove into learning about the farmers, the production, the small food entrepreneurs, the restaurants, the chefs and the people who poured into the restaurants and farmers market everyday.

Now, I cook far more. I like trying new cuisines and have expanded my palette as I originally was raised vegetarian (still have never had a hamburger)! I believe that food can be indulgent, but it’s also important as it’s our fuel and sustains our health (e.g. don’t eat fried food everyday even though it’s SO good).

What is your earliest memory about food?

Every Christmas we drive 12 hours East, to West Virginia where my mom’s Italian family lives. We have big celebrations and Christmas Eve involves the Feast of the Seven Fishes with usually 40+ relatives (not even all of us.

It’s a long drive and at the end of it, we walk into my Nunnie and Popo’s kitchen and smell fresh garlic simmering in olive oil, homemade marinara sauce, spaghetti boiling in water, green beans and peppers from their garden sizzling in onions and the sound of their laughter and touch of their hugs.

That is one of my first food memories that sticks out to me. We always have the same meal when we arrive in their warm house they’ve lived in their whole life. Warms my heart just thinking about it. Food directly ties to family and love to me.

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

Knowing where the food came from. If you can directly connect with your farmer and know they only drove 1 mile from their farm to their Farmers Market stand or your CSA, it makes me feel good.

I would say I eat close to 100% organic and since I still like fruit in the winter and Colorado isn’t always producing a lot of it, it’s not always local but I like knowing my farmers, supporting their farm and organic food.

My mom has had the same farmer deliver food from his organic farm down the road from us for over 20 years. He’ll pick fresh asparagus, call my mom up and ask how much she wants. He brings it right to our door. I want to continue that tradition.

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

I think there needs to be more customer education and awareness. I know that’s rather broad, but admittedly, there are things I wish I knew more about but I don’t know where to access it. There’s a big gap of people who don’t understand the food system, don’t see the issues and if they did or were educated around it, I could see them changing their buying habits, diet, etc.

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

Sometimes I wish we were in California weather where oranges could grow in my backyard year-round. Alas, we have four seasons and are lucky with all the sunshine we get daily. I love that there’s a passion for local here in Colorado and this isn’t just the likes of Hazel Dell Mushrooms farm but also the brands like Justin’s Nut Butter. I appreciate the heightened level of awareness here.

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

Garlic, baby. It’s simple and can add that extra kick to almost any savory dish without over seasoning with something like salt.

I also rarely use butter and really love a quality olive oil or coconut oil.

What are your favorite foods?

Avocado, BBQ, asparagus, sushi, fresh corn on the cob, popcorn, (grew up in Iowa!), strawberries, gnocchi, green curry, peanut butter, and ALL kinds of cheese (specifically Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre).

Not necessarily eaten all together :)

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

Good question – first thing that comes to mind is:

I love to read every night before I go to bed. I prefer my eyes to not be looking at a computer screen, particularly in bed. I’ve been gobbling up books and it excites me because I feel I’m perpetually learning and consuming this way.

I’m also excited about the work I do at my full-time job and on Grace(full) Plate. I love sharing knowledge around food, learning about new trends and understanding our local food economy.

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

There are A LOT.

I really like Kickstarter though and think it’s a great way to uncover ideas and people that are looking to expand and grow, particularly in food.

I recently learned of http://www.takethemameal.com/. It simplifies meal coordination for people in times of need (e.g. just had a baby, surgery, etc.). You can create a meal schedule, organize who is sending what, share easily, etc. I like the idea and am touched because it ties into giving back.

Where can people find you both online and offline?

I’m probably on every social site possible, but you can find me most active on:

My two blogs: http://gracefullplate.com + http://smallhandsbigideas.com
Twitter: @gracekboyle + food-specific @gracefullplate
Facebook: Facebook.com/Gracefullplate + Facebook.com/SmallHandsBigIdeas
FourSquare: https://foursquare.com/gracekboyle

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

Food Advocate: Karen Le Billon @karenlebillon, author of French Kids Eat Everything

Our mission at Foodtree is to connect people with great food. With this in mind we’re highlighting individuals and organizations we think do a fantastic job of contributing, promoting, building, and transforming the food system. We call them Food Advocates. Would you like to participate? Fill out our interview here and we’ll follow up!

Today we chat with Karen Le Billon, author of a new book coming in April called  French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters. 

Tell us about yourself:

I’m an author, teacher, proud mom of two–and an accidental healthy kids food advocate!

As I’m married to a Frenchman, our family divides its time between Vancouver and France.

When not in the kitchen, I’m a professor at the University of British Columbia — where I teach on environment and sustainability issues.

Tell us about your project/business:

A few years ago, our family moved to France for a year. At the time, I wasn’t interested in food, my kids were very picky eaters, and cooking (and eating) were a source of family stress.

But living in my France inspired us to re-invent the way our family eats. We learned lots of great tips and tricks, as well as recipes, for making food fun, healthy, and less stressful. My kids now eat everything (well, almost)! And the kitchen table is the happiest place in our house.

I was so inspired by this that I ended up writing a book, titled ‘French Kids Eat Everything’, which will be published by HarperCollins in April 2012. The book tells the story o f our year in France, interwoven with recipes and practical how-to information: notably, 10 French Kids Food Rules that the French use to raise happy, healthy eaters.

karenlebillon.com/books

What is your earliest memory about food?

Good question! Warm apple strudel, made by my mother, hot out of the oven. It was a family ritual every Sunday, and I can still smell that wonderful, sweet, roasted apple smell.

What’s most important to you when it comes to buying food – local, organic, fair trade, GMO-free, etc?

Supporting local stores and farmers markets. I avoid supermarkets–except for non-food essentials.

When balancing the trade-off between local versus organic, I go for local first. We also feel that it’s really important to support local farmers. I WWOOFed for many years, and still help out on my godparents organic garlic farm on Vancouver Island.

Fair-trade is important — but it’s also important that this doesn’t remain a niche, and that the entire food system becomes more ‘fair’.

What is the one thing you’d like to see change about the food system?

More urban gardening – Peter Ladner’s new book on the Urban Food Revolution is really inspiring.

What is special about food where you live? What’s one thing you would change?

We’re tremendously lucky in Vancouver to have fresh produce to eat year-round, and a large and committed group of local farmers and food producers.

One thing I miss, though, is local maple syrup (can’t have everything, I guess).

Something I’d love to see is more locally produced honey. There are some beekeepers in the region (and even in Vancouver) but it would be great to see more.

What are your favorite ingredients to use when preparing a meal?

My French mother-in-law’s ‘go-to’ ingredients: garlic, parsley, shallots, butter (or olive oil), and white wine — it’s amazing how many different tastes and savors you can create with this simple list. And you can grow all of these wonderfully in BC.

For a BC-based unusual ‘favorite’ ingredient, I love kombu (seaweed harvested off of Bamfield, the natural origin of ‘glutamate’ — added to foods, it enhances their taste in a subtle yet wonderful way).

What are your favorite foods?

Garlic. My godparents have an organic garlic farm on Vancouver Island, and we love to re-invent dishes with their garlic — roasted, steamed, pureed, sauteed, marinated….The possibilities are endless.

Blackberries. We love to roam through Vancouver parks and alleys in summertime, for our local harvest. Sometimes we make jam…but sometimes we just smear them on fresh baguette. Heavenly. And I make a mean blackberry amaretto cake.

Kale. The perfect winter vegetable, in soups or stews or stirfries. But my favorite recipe is ‘stamppot’: a Dutch dish involving boiling potatoes and kale together, then mashing them up. Yes, this results in green mashed potatoes!

Quinoa. The first time I saw this plant was at Dan Jason’s (Salt Spring Seeds) farm on Salt Spring Island — where it grows wonderfully. High in protein, a beautifully subtle yet complex taste. My kids prefer millet though!

Other than food, what are you particularly excited about right now?

Music: I’ve been discovering a lot of amazing new French singers lately, including Zaz (think Edith Piaf with a gypsy-jazz inflection).

Jivamukti Yoga: A fascinating approach to yoga, originally based in New York–very attentive to food and environmental issues.

Tell us about a food-related project that has inspired you:

The Farm to School movement. They link farmers with local schools: kids eat better, learn about local foods, and farming, and farmers benefit too — the kids are so enthusiastic about food, once they encounter it in their own backyards.

Where can people find you both online and offline?

You can find me online at karenlebillon.com.

Facebook: Karen Le Billon https://www.facebook.com/karenlebillon

Tweeting @karenlebillon

Thanks for taking part in our Food Advocate series! 

Today, we shine the light on you. Share a story of food and love.

We invite you to share with the Foodtree community a story about food that reminds you of Love.

Read more

Foodtree Community: #tweetup at the Main Street Farmers Market

Next Wednesday the Foodtree team will be hosting our first ever #tweetup in Vancouver. We invite you to join us at the Main Street Farmers Market in Thornton Park from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on July 27th. Come out to support the farmers, buy fresh local food, and meet our team. It’s the perfect excuse to come to the farmers market.

We’ll also be demoing our iphone app, which allows users to share photos of foods that are available from market vendors. As an extra incentive we’ll be awarding market money to every person who uses the app to take at least ten photos at the market that day. Please use the hastag #vanfarmers to help promote the market and the vendors.

You can RSVP to our event on twitvite using twitter, and everyone is welcome. We look forward to meeting food geeks, foodies, and everyone interested in knowing more about where their food comes from.

Vote: Unlock your food community in the Foodtree app!

Who gets unlocked next? Vote for your community below!

Bonus: The first community to 20 votes earns those voters free “Know Your Food” t-shirts.

The next release for the Foodtree app is on its way with a bushel of new features, improvements, and tweaks suggested to us by you; our community.

If you have further feedback or ideas, don’t hesitate to share them with us.

Let’s Unlock Your Community!

Unlocking Foodtree in your community is up to you.

It is a matter of having enough people in the area who’d like to celebrate their local food producers.

If enough of your friends and neighbors show us they care about their food culture by voting in this poll, we’ll add your farmers markets and food producers to the application and you can all start sharing with one another.

I Don’t See My Community Above

We have a forum for food lovers to let us know they wanted their community unlocked in the mobile app…if you don’t see your community in this poll you can suggest it there!

The rest is up to you and your friends, fans, and neighbors. Spread the word and put your city at the top of this poll, and we’ll unlock your community!  We’ll be aiming to unlock our next round of communities in just over a week so get out there and spread the word!

Tweet: Vote for our community to be unlocked in the @foodtree app; share photos of fresh local food and where it’s from! http://via.fdtr.me/unlockvote

Don’t forget: we’re sending free “Know Your Food” t-shirts to the voters in the community who rally the first 20 votes!