Nourish | The Goods

Nourish | The Goods

Today, juicing, raw diets and veganism have gone mainstream, giving people more options than ever to eat a plant-based, whole foods diet. We caught up with The Goods, one of the first key players in Toronto to offer such a variety of on-the-go options. 

TG:  Lisa at The Goods has built her business around the idea that food is a source of healing, and every dish she creates puts emphasis on the power that food has on improving our overall well-being, both physically and mentally. I love this mentality and it really resonates with me, so I was excited to have an opportunity to pick her brain and gain some more knowledge on eating and cooking with that in mind.
I've been eating vegan for almost a year now, so I'm naturally drawn to learning more about making meals and learning recipes that are whole food and plant-based. Having gone through an eating disorder in what seems like a past life, I found that the best thing for my recovery was changing my relationship with food, viewing it as a source of nourishment, which turned it into a positive aspect of my life, rather than something I had a love/hate relationship with.
CT: I’m the type of person who would eat pepperoni sticks for dinner before considering salad as a meal, so the raw food movement was a bit of a mystery to me. That said, there was still something so interesting how The Goods became so successful for the mainstream crowd. More than anything, I was excited to chat with Lisa and hear her story. Coming from the same advertising background, I wanted to know how she took her skills as a producer and put it to work for something she truly loved doing.

Who is The Goods?

The Goods was founded by Lisa, an incredibly energetic woman who found her passion in the raw food movement after working for more than a decade in advertising. She firmly believes that food has the power to heal and transform, because she has seen this change in herself:

“I got into raw food because I had been eating so poorly and started drinking green smoothies, which basically shocked my system into enlightenment. I was so unhappy in my career that I turned to raw food and eventually quit my job, travelled to parts of Asia and the US to learn as much as I could about food.”

Raw food: A revelation

For someone who is such a strong believer in the power of good, wholesome food, you’d think that Lisa grew up loving vegetables or at least, around people who did. But she didn’t, and surprisingly that was the gateway to her discovery of raw food and its nourishing qualities:  

“I refused to eat vegetables for 27 years of my life, and called myself a meat-atarian. My mum was always really healthy and focused on health, so when I moved out I was like, milk and cheese and Coke all the time. I got a little bit fat and a little bit sick and asked myself, why do I have migraines, why do I have ulcers? I just didn’t know. I started doing Weight Watchers and lost the weight, but was still eating a chocolate bar every night, and still looked like shit. Then I started doing yoga and making smoothies, and that’s where it all began. I started drinking them all of the time. My migraines went away, my ulcer completely subsided, my eyelashes grew longer… when you start to nourish your body it starts to function optimally. Regrowing your hair, generating new skin… your body wants to work, but we just don’t support it.”

One thing we discussed was that a lot of women end up joining the raw movement because of their experience with eating disorders. It’s a different way of thinking about food, where it is seen as a positive force and it’s really the idea of nourishing yourself to look better. You can’t gain weight if you try.

“We put so much pressure to look a certain way and we aren’t educating our kids, our girls, about how they should eat.”

We also briefly talked about the raw and vegan culture, and how there are a lot of misconceptions about eating this way. Specifically, we talked about the banana-only diet that has been making its rounds on the Internet:

“Complete BS. I’ve had these conversations with younger people and it’s the same reason why you can go to college and drink your face off and be fine, because you’re young and your body is super resistant and resilient. But as you get older you need more balance so if you’re going on a banana bender you won’t recover the same way and eventually it will take a toll.”
“I don’t eat all raw, Beck (who also works at The Goods) mentioned Libretto pizza and now that’s all I can think about. The main thing is to just try to eat as much of the good stuff as you can. You can see by the food we’re making that I'm not necessarily pure raw; in warm climates it’s easy, but it’s just not possible in our climate.”

All in all, it’s about moderation. But beyond physical benefits, Lisa also noticed a change in her personality when she started eating better:

“It was 3 or 4 months later when I realized I didn’t have a bad temper anymore. It stabilized my mood, and at that point, the mental health aspect was what I focused on. I was still eating meat and nachos, but was eating a lot of the good stuff – I was having one ‘Gateway smoothie’ a day, and just doing that gives you 3-4 servings of vegetables.”

Realizing all of these benefits, Lisa had a revelation which drives her passion for eating and cooking good, wholesome food:

“I kind of got mad…why the f*ck didn’t I know any of this? They should be teaching us this stuff in kindergarten. It’s just the simple things - for example, we should inherently eat less meat in the summer because it increases our internal temperature, and yet we still eat it.”
“I want everyone who knows me or crosses paths with me knows this. Our society would look very different if we had more food awareness. You think of all the anger and discomfort in our world; what if everyone was eating better and feeling better?”

The beginning of The Goods

The Goods had humble beginnings: Lisa was trained as a raw chef and learned as much as she could on her own, and the market was much different than it looks now:

“We started as lunch delivery and made salads; now everyone delivers lunch and everyone makes salads. At the time, we were the only ones which was lucky. Otherwise, it would have never taken off in today’s market. When I founded The Goods, it just wasn’t a thing; Rawlicious existed and Live Organic and Fresh, and that was it. What’s frustrating for me is that people make salads and juices because they know they can make money on it; we make salads and smoothies because we know we can change the world. Not all salads are created equal. But that’s become our market position, where our brand is actually all medicine and is actually all good for you.”
“In the past 8 years it’s changed completely. We know all of this about food and what we’re talking about is not rocket science, it’s the basics. We just need to be reminded. Food is going to affect us whether we’re aware of it or not, so it can be a slow poison or it can heal us.”

Converting your passion into a career.

We were interested in learning about Lisa’s personal journey from being a seasoned producer in advertising, to a small business owner. We were curious about the real learning curve, and Lisa spilled the beans. Having worked in advertising for 11 years, she had already built up a very strong network of supportive friends and colleagues which helped The Goods take off quickly.

But she admitted that owning your own business is a beast and definitely not all fun and games. Running a brick and mortar store, doing everything yourself, and not having access to funds was an unexpected adjustment. It’s difficult because there are so many perks to working in a corporation, but at the end of the day, it’s what makes you fall asleep happier that is most important.

As we chatted in the kitchen, we all agreed that maybe it takes a certain type of person to want to make your passion, a career.

“It’s kind of like having kids where people are like, ‘you don’t understand’. You can’t understand because if you understood, none of us would have kids. You can’t understand until you’re there and this is the same thing with starting your own business, especially if it takes off. You cannot be privy to how intense it would be. I wouldn’t have done it. I’m happy I did it, but if anyone told me what was going to happen, I wouldn’t do it. The fear would have overruled me.”

We continued to chat with Lisa about our future and goals as young professionals. Both of us have been in the work force for just under five years, and our career doesn’t always line up to the things we’re passionate about. Sometimes, we jump to the thought of quitting our job and pursuing our passion but Lisa gave us some wise, grounding advice:

“I don’t know if I would always advise that everyone gets out of what they’re doing right now because there are perks to a stable, comfortable job. Not everyone is built to turn their passion into a career. I have a lot of friends who have a comfortable, well-paying job and also has a passion project on their side that keeps them happy. I’m not that breed, but this [owning your own business] is another beast.”

And that’s totally fair advice. Perhaps there are two types of people: there are those work so they can pursue their passion on the side, and then there are those people who are adamant that their work has to be their passion and their life’s work. In our generation, it almost feels like there is an invisible pressure to be in the latter category.   

So, what’s the practical advice here if you feel like there’s something you’re passionate about but you’re not 100% certain that you’re ready to pursue it? Don’t be so quick to give it all up. Set yourself up: save what you can so that you have a fund to pull from when you are ready to make that jump. It’s not a race.

The meal: A healing, vegan alternative to Chicken Noodle Soup.

Prior to meeting, we told Lisa that we wanted to try our hand at making something in her kitchen that would represent The Goods’ manifesto: healthful, nutritious and delicious. With fall (sadly) approaching, Lisa opted to show us how to make something that would transition into colder months: A vegan, whole foods alternative to chicken noodle soup - yum!

Lisa went online and found a standard chicken noodle soup recipe from which she could adapt. All the ingredients were easily identifiable, something she prides herself in offering for all her dishes. We also used turmeric as an alternative to yellow food colouring in the original recipe. Much better!  

As we started prepping, Lisa gave us a few tips on common ingredients she uses at The Goods:

  • Use mineral salt (e.g. Himalayan salt) instead of iodized salt. Iodized salt actually causes minerals to leach from your bones, whereas mineral salt provides essential minerals to your body.

  • Miso and tamari both add dimension to soups that give it the rich, full and roundness of meat flavour. Red miso is good for pork-esque flavour, and a light miso gives a poultry and fish flavour.

  • For immunity boosting purposes, add miso once the soup cools so you don’t kill the probiotics.

As an alternative to meat, we used three types of mushrooms: oyster, portobello and shitaki. All of them are very meaty and have immunity boosting properties. Lisa also introduced us to the Chaga mushroom:

“It’s the only mushroom where mycelium (the hairy bits of a mushroom) grows on the inside; it grows on the outside of a tree and has been used in Russian prisons for people who had skin cancer. They used it as a supportive food when they were going through chemo. It has the highest percentage of melatonin of any food; you can extract various properties and benefits using different methods. If you light it, it will burn like coal, and it only grows at temperatures that are -30 degrees. To prepare it, you need to put it in the oven and dry it out, then smash with a hammer.”

And hammer we did.

Interesting fact of the day: Mushroom spores can survive outside of our atmosphere, so some think they came from space…one thing is for sure: They have a ton of immunity boosting properties and make a hell of a stock.

We chopped the mushrooms, sans stumps into thin strips and tossed them into a big pot along with the garlic, olive oil, diced carrot, onion and celery.

While our veggies simmered, we asked Lisa how she developed her breadth of knowledge that goes beyond coming up with recipes.

“I studied under Elaina Love in Bali and learned a lot from doing. I was also a podcast junkie; when I started doing this everyone thought I lost my mind. I just read at the library and learned what I could. When I went to study with someone and meet other people with similar interests, that’s what really propelled me. I took Intro to Culinary Arts at George Brown so I learned how to use a knife, work in a kitchen etc.”

On food prep

We love the idea of eating this way, but food prep can seem daunting. Grocery shopping can be challenging when you’re cooking for one. Here’s some sound advice from Lisa:

“You can get away with doing a lot of prep on a Sunday and have food until Thursday. Store each type of vegetable in separate plastic containers such as cucumber, kale, cabbage etc. Another great trick is getting a CSA basket like Mama Earth; they'll deliver to your house once a week, it’s $35 for a couples basket and you’ll always have fresh produce in your house. It also gives you recipes that incorporate all of the produce you receive. You can add pantry things too, and they add it to the basket, all from local producers.”

Food waste is also a real struggle when you’re cooking for one, so Lisa advised throwing vegetables into smoothies or freezing them to make a stock for later.

What’s next for Lisa?

“The business has gotten to the point where it’s basically running itself; I’m a little bit stuck again waiting for that next thing to get me going. I would like to be more of a voice, I’d love to get someone involved to give us some funding to open a kitchen to cater to hospitals, rehab centres etc. I would love that.”

The Goods offers salads, smoothies & soups. Organic, vegan, gluten free, nut free & mostly raw. Takeout, catering, delivery & UberEATS. Voted Best Salads by BlogTO. Follow The Goods on Instagram.


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