By Nina Adarkar
This coming January, we are proud to be featuring weekly installments on food education by nutrition educator and creator of SOUL food salon, Jeanne Rosner, MD, from "Fiber is Your Friend" to "Understanding Inflammation" on the Pulp Pantry blog. Get excited & stay tuned!
Jeanne Rosner is a board certified anesthesiologist who practiced at Stanford Medical Center for nearly 20 years. In 2011 she began teaching nutrition classes in her son’s 5th grade science class which was an “Aha!” moment for her. She realized that learning and teaching about nutrition, health and wellness to her community was her destiny.
Since retiring from anesthesia, she has been a nutrition educator at local middle schools throughout the Bay Area. She teaches middle school children the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices and eating in a balanced and moderate way.
In addition, Dr. Rosner started a venture called SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon in 2014. She holds small gatherings (salons) with the mission of educating and empowering people to be healthier. The salons feature an expert in the health and wellness community who speaks about an interesting health topic. There are also salons with a chef/physician doing cooking demonstrations while using local and seasonal ingredients.
Q: Tell us about your personal mission, or the mission of soul food insights.
A: My main project is called SOUL Food Salon. SOUL stands for Seasonal Organic Unprocessed Local, and the salons are small gatherings. I have these salons once a month with experts from the nutrition world. Usually, they involve cooking demonstrations in the kitchen with a chef, MD, or PhD. My mission is to empower us to be healthier, ultimately, hopefully making the world a better place, and have these healthier habits trickle down to our community, our parents, etc., and leave us with some actionable change we can do in our life, whether it’s to have three servings of blueberries a day for brain health or something else, some tangible, actionable plan to create a better health plan for ourselves.
Q: What is your personal food philosophy? For example, Michael Pollan’s “Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants.”
A: Eat food that’s close to its natural source, as least-processed as possible, in balance and in moderation. Eat real food.
Q: What was your inspiration for beginning your work on SOUL Food Salon?
A: I started teaching in my son’s 5th grade science class 7 years ago, a health and wellness class with a main focus on nutrition, and that was my A-ha! moment. I really loved learning more about this and then teaching it. I wanted to take it to the next level. I teach really anyone that asks me - I was just asked to teach at an intersession class for a high school, and I’m like, “Sure!” This kind of just evolved into the next thing and the truth is, I wasn’t sure if people would be interested or show up, but it’s been running now for a little over 3 and a half years. I basically send an email a month before each event and it fills up in 2 or 3 hours. The events are free-of-charge. I’m currently partnered with the Stanford Medical Center teaching medical students how to cook. We helped fund their fall teaching elective through donations. In Spring, we’re going to do an 8-week course to teach them the benefit of cooking with real food, and learn for the health of their patients, etc.
Q: What is your vision for the future of our food system in the US? What fundamental shifts in individual mindset or the industry need to change?
A: I shift mindsets through teaching students - they become really aware of where their food is sourced, where it comes from. A lot of students grow their own food or go to the farmer's market. I’m hopeful that the trend will be to continue to eat in a whole way, whether it’s to eat whole food or go to the market. I just don’t think that the future adults will be happy with all the processed things, and just the lack of sustainability with conventional farming and livestock production.
The students are pretty knowledgable kids. I think for that millennial generation, knowing where your food comes from is so important. Supporting proponents of sustainability, whether it be in food or livestock production, really demanding from our government to be more transparent, is key. I’m hopeful. Unfortunately, there’s such a huge lobby group with organizations like the grocer's foundations and they’re pretty vocal and powerful. However, I think these smaller, local movements will prevail.
We have a post that’s going out next week by a woman whose son died at 18 months from a community-acquired bacterial information. This happened in 2004, and her post is all about the different regulations now with using antibiotics in livestock. There are certain parameters in strict place, but a lot of is consumer-driven. For example, Tyson Foods is not putting antibiotics in the majority of their chicken anymore— I think that trend is consumer-driven, rather than a product of their own benevolence. Hopefully, the more educated our consumers are, the more food production will improve.
Q: What trends are you obsessing over currently?
A: I’m really interested in all the microbiomes and learning all about the gut. When I was in medical school, I learned that bacteria in your gut was harmful, but now we understand there’s both harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut. Every week, I see a new study on how gut bacteria dictates your propensity for disease. It’s fascinating to learn how to best nourish your microbiome.
Q: For people who are interested in delving more into nutrition science and how it works on their body, what tips do you have for people getting started?
A: I think it’s important to become knowledgeable in the whole area —there are few reputable sites that I’d recommend. I’m a huge follower of the Harvard School of Public Health. They have something called the Nutrition Source, I think it comes once a week with headlines of studies they’ve done and different trends in nutrition. They’re truly the experts on nutrition and they were the first nutrition department in the United States, perhaps the first in the world. It was formed 75 years ago, so some studies have been very long-term and truly show the diets we should be adhering to. These studies illustrate the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and fiber. Nutrition guidelines have stood the test of time. I have a link on my site called Healthy Links with 7 sources that are very reputable. I also closely follow Andrew Weil from the University of Arizona, he is the king, the founder of integrative medicine. He has a great website, and you can subscribe to his posts weekly or daily. So, those would be two places to start.
Q: Do you have a vision for the future?
A: I’m really happy where it is - I really like the intimacy of my events. The events are in my living room, and we have about 50 or so people show, and it’s a very warm environment. It’s a very informal environment as well, so there’s a lot of give and take with questions and answering, and I think people feel comfortable - I like that sense of community.
That being said, I don’t want it to get bigger. I have a speaker in March, so perhaps I’ll get a venue bigger for that speaker, because I think his message could be received by lot of people. I do videotape didactic talks for Youtube to amplify my reach. I also create SOULful Insights posts or videos on Youtube to educate more people.
Maybe that’s where I want to spend a little more time - that’s something I can work out with you guys! I now update my website every week, and I’m doing a lot more with Instagram and putting on videos. I’m much more technologically savvy than many of my friends are, but there is still a lot of room for more improvement and variety. So, that’s where I see it going, maybe expanding a little bit more that way. For me, a future vision has a different perspective than some because I’m not selling anything.