Here We Grow

Goodlifer: Here We Grow

Craig King has been involved in the natural foods movement since its early days in Southern California. Influenced by his grandfather who was a chef and grocer, King grew up developing a great appreciation for fresh, whole foods, and became a strong supporter of sustainable farming practices. In the film Here We Grow, King interviews experts, advocates and regular people to tell the story of the current state of our food system.

Prior to becoming a chef, Craig was an actor traveling around the world, which afforded him the opportunity to experience many of the world cultures and food styles. After years of cooking for the world’s elite (when working for Saudi royalty he once cooked dinner for the Bush family, accompanied in the kitchen by an armed Secret Service agent), King relocated to Boulder, Colorado, the home to many of the nation’s natural food companies. During his time there, he worked for the founders of Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Silk Soymilk and many other natural food pioneers.

Craig King.

Craig King.

In the film, King spends three months working with an African American single mother and her three kids, transforming their pantry from being stocked with conventional junk food to natural and organic items on nearly the same budget. He also helped them plant a vegetable garden in their backyard. The children had a blast tending to it, and could not wait to eat their salads for dinner. To the mother’s surprise, they even ordered salads off the menu in a restaurant when they were allowed to get anything they wanted. “They ate the whole thing!” she said. This makes a good point of showing that change is not only possible, but comes easier than people may think.

When making the documentary, King’s enlisted whole food movement notables such as Steve Demos, Founder of White Wave and Next Foods; Heather Mills, food and international animal activist; Pierre Ferrari, Former Sr. VP Coca Cola Corp USA; James Turner, Chairman, Citizens for Health; Tara Guber, CEO Yoga Ed; Marc Barsach, Founder, Green Campaign; Theresa Kiene, Founder, Home Made Baby; Chef Ann Cooper, the Renegade Lunch Lady; and Amie Hamlin, Executive Director of the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Eloise Nelson.

Eloise Nelson.

What I found particularly eye-opening was the discussion of how the pandemic expansion of dangerous chemicals that were introduced into food seeds and crop soils have multiplied at an alarming rate over the last 40 years. Eloise Nelson, Holistic Nutritionist, talks fairly in-depth about how fake plastic anti-food wreaks havoc on our systems. When we eat synthetic foods, our bodies are forced to use those building blocks to create cells, which means that the damage highly processed foods does to your system is sustained. She also talks about how chemical taste enhancers are cleverly engineered to overexcite the neurons in our brains, making us dependent on the cheap thrill cheap food provides. It is information like this that can make people stop being lazy and make an honest effort to change their bad habits.

Peter & Mary Max.

Peter & Mary Max.

Also appearing in the film is Mary Max, founder and director of Kind Green Planet, school food activist and wife of pop artist Peter Max, who healed herself with nothing but food and nutrition (no medicines or surgeries) after being run over by a car a few years back. Stories like hers are very inspirational, and proof of just how important it is to be mindful of what we put into our bodies.

King believes that the true way to deal with health care is to create health. He dreams of installing vegetable gardens at orphanages, in urban settings and throughout all communities – regardless of ability to pay. Children’s food choices should not be limited by their zip code or social standing, simply because proper nutrition is by far the most important part in a child’s development. A portion of the film’s proceeds helps fund the Healthy School Lunch Program, working to bring more healthy plant-based foods into our schools.

Craig King’s new initiative, tentatively called Whole Pantry, involves building a 4,000 square foot store that is modeled after a pantry. It would consist of grains, legumes, herbs, spices, a selection of both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as other simple items that are necessary to stock and create a healthy pantry. Everything would be natural and organic and—because of the underwriting and support of the natural food community—the cost of goods would be very competitive with fast food chains, gas stations, and quick marts. The Whole Pantry will also have a commercial kitchen where teenagers will be taught to be natural chefs, and hopefully inspired to spread that knowledge back to their families. “Whole Pantry is about availability and price, but it is also about comfort, quick gratification and ease in the shopping experience. The design will feel cozy, nourishing and supportive; kind-of-like Grandma’s pantry.”




Concept sketches for the Whole Pantry.

Says King, “Where the film Here We Grow ends is where the Whole Pantry begins. It will allow the community to put their knowledge to use and help them thrive while spreading the movement of wellness to others. It is important for us to focus on solutions rather than to just complain about the situation. Here We Grow and the Whole Pantry are dedicated to inspiring great change now.”

Here We Grow is available for purchase on the website, and in Whole Foods stores nationwide. The film is a good introduction to the whole foods movement and the many possibilities available to improve our quality of life through proper nutrition. You are what you eat.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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