Posted on September 15, 2010 - by

Interview with Lia Huber of Nourish Network

“Women Nourish Us” is FRESH’s femme-focused blog series. Every week, we turn to a leading woman in the good food movement for ideas and inspiration. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lia Huber about her new and impressive endeavor, The Nourish Network.

Lia  Huber is the founder and CEO of the rich-content website, Nourish Network, and its companion small group coaching program, My Nourish Mentor. Lia is also a widely published food writer and recipe developer, for magazines like Cooking Light, Prevention and Health, and a rising presence both on-screen and in-person. In any format she tackles, Lia brings passion—and fun—to her message of nourishing body, soul and planet with every bite.

I was reading that you lived in Greece for a while. Is there a Greek dish you make at home now – from memory?

I used to work in my ex-fiance’s family restaurant. I started out as a salad girl. I still make a mean Greek salad – which is helpful – especially now at this time of year when there are so many tomatoes and cucumbers. I also make souvlaki. I just made souvlaki the other night with tzatziki – with that yogurt cucumber dip. And this potato dip – skordalia – that’s an awesome, awesome dish. They serve it traditionally with salt cod fritters. Dip it in or spoon it on top…

You have a greeting on your website’s front page that says, “If you’re looking to enjoy a healthy body, a comfortable weight, and an eco clean conscience, while getting more pleasure from your food, you’ve come to the right place,” which I found really intriguing. I’m wondering what eco clean conscience means to you, since it’s potentially a kind of intimating phrase that people might not know how to decipher…

I define that as a way of eating that matches your values. There’s a whole sector of people now who are very well versed in the sustainability realm, but there’s an even bigger chunk of people who are really confused by it. It’s disheartening that people have to go to the fish counter and feel uneasy about buying fish, or walk through the produce aisle and be like, “should I buy organic, should I buy – what should I buy?” Or eggs! Let’s take eggs. There’s a recall and people are all of a sudden terrified to buy eggs. Food shopping now is a really stressful experience.

There’s the health aspect, but now I think there’s also this value aspect, where more than ever people are now going, “Wait a second – I want food that’s safe for me and my family. I want food where the animal hasn’t been completely mistreated. I want food where I know people haven’t been mistreated.” I feel like there’s a deep-seated, bubbling up in people, where they don’t even know exactly what they are looking for, or what they’re questioning, but they want to eat in a way that gives them a clean conscience.

The other thing that I noticed in my research and that I thought was a pretty deep intention on your part – personally – was that you talk about wanting to help people find fulfillment. I’m wondering what being fulfilled means to you personally, and how you think your work helps people find fulfillment for themselves.

As a teenager, I used to really eschew the word contentment. I used to think it meant you were sitting around, twiddling your thumbs. But, as I’ve gotten older (and wiser!), I’ve discovered this richness around contentment, this richness around digging deeper in every moment… I find this a lot with my daughter, where you’re in that moment, I have this choice of being like, “hang on, honey, I gotta check my email,” (which I do sometimes), or to sit down and look her in the eye and meet her where she is. And that applies to food.  We have to feed ourselves three times a day – roughly – in our world, in our society, we eat three times a day. And that’s three opportunities we get each day to to either be nourished by that experience and have it be something deeper than just what we put in our bodies, or just a to-do to get past. You know, “I have to make dinner!” rush. It enables us to connect to where that food is coming from…it’s a sensual experience to be grateful for the food that’s coming to my plate. And then in preparing it, becoming present in preparing your food.

If you’ve ever gotten heirloom tomatoes – my husband once cried when he cut open an heirloom tomato because it was so beautiful. They are just so lovely.

And then the two-fold experience of eating, where you’re connecting with your body, and also those you are sharing it with others. It’s a huge spectrum of being filled – ful/filled at very deep levels. I guess that’s what I mean by being fulfilled.

I was hoping you could explain what “grow food” is and what you think adults could pack into lunch boxes in mid-September.

Well, one of the issues with kids is that no matter how healthy a lunch you pack, they’re gonna go for the chips or for the cookie, first. And so, my daughter’s teacher came up with this term of “grow food,” where the kids have to eat their “grow food” first. And the cool thing is, Noemi has gotten excited about it. So when I’m making her lunch or we’re getting dinner together, we have a conversation about “which of these are ‘grow food’?” She understands that these are the foods that are helping her grow. When she has the cheddar bunnies, yeah they taste good, but she knows that they aren’t ‘grow food.” It’s fun, because it’s giving this healthy food this caché, this specialness to it.

So, in terms of what to pack. I think that quesadillas and omelets are two awesome, sort-of overlooked items for the lunch box. Because quesadillas, just a simple bean or cheese quesadilla with a whole grain corn tortilla, are good and healthy with whole grains and protein, and it’s great finger food. Or I’ll make like a little mini omelet with whatever we have on hand. I’ll just chop up greens and sauté them and then put a scrabbled egg in it. It gets nice and firm at room temp, and you can cut it up into triangles or whatever, which is how a lot of cultures eat a frittatas or omelet sort of things.

Bottom line is you want food that tastes really good.

Nourish Network, I imagine, was an incredible endeavor to create. What in the past or now has been hugely challenging for you personally? Was there something frustrating or disappointing in the process of making it come together?

{Laughs} Everything’s been a challenge! Actually….Nourish Network….I’d been a writer and recipe developer for twelve years for major magazines, so I had “chops.” But, I did not want to write a recipe, I did not want to do a cookbook for a long time, because I wanted to really find my calling before I did that – before I stepped out and did a book. And about two years ago, I did find my calling after lots and lots of soul searching. I’ve also been a branding consultant for many years, so I thought, I’m going to work on my own brand. “What is the message that I’m supposed to bring to the world?” Big question. It really got distilled down to, “I want to nourish people. I want to teach people how to nourish themselves.” That bubbled up and it turned into a book proposal.

Well, that book proposal went out to the world the week the market crashed. And the whole idea was that I was going to have this book proposal go out and use the advance from the book to pay for Nourish Network, for the website development. But the publishing industry just went “craultpltz!” and imploded on itself and nothing ever happened with the book. But I decided I still wanted to move forward with the development of Nourish Network. So, then I started having big conversations with my husband, “OK, are we ready to dip into savings and max out credit lines?”…to do all this stuff to build this? Bless his heart, man, he’s been an amazing support through all of this. But, it’s been all on our own resources, through a very, very difficult time, to do anything, let alone something that is not easily package-able. So, it’s been a challenge to simply do this, to rally the resources to do it.

There were sometimes during our beta launch {the website} where I’d just lie there at night and think, “This isn’t going to work. What are we going to do?” because there were a lot of technological problems then. There’s definitely those nights of not sleeping, thinking “What if all of this is for naught?” But, it always comes back to, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s kind of no choice for me, because this is my calling.

What is really exciting right now – or a new initiative – with Nourish Network?

My Nourish Mentor is so exciting to me. Being somebody who would write an article…and then a year later it would go to print…it’s incredible to be so much closer to the impact. Nourish Network got a little closer, with people’s comments and the member area, so there’s a closer aspect to it. But, My Nourish Mentor takes it even closer, where literally for six months I’m walking with people through this transformation process. It’s been unreal to hear people’s stories, how people are changing their whole relationship with food. It’s just amazing.

We’re doing this with individuals, but we are also doing this with corporations. So companies are starting to offer Nourish Mentor to their employees.

Interview by Jamie Yuenger

To get in touch with Lia or learn more about her work, visit the The Nourish Network website.

*If you believe in the power of women’s words and our growing sustainable food movement, please spread the word about our Women Nourish Us blog series via email, Facebook & Twitter (http://bit.ly/bDJGtX). If you would like to host a screening of FRESH for your friends or organization, please – be in touch!

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  1. Visit My Website

    September 15, 2010

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    Jacqueline said:

    “Grow food” is the best! I want to tell all my friends with kids. Now!