2.21.19
Erewhon Santa Monica produce

Erewhon is the Neiman Marcus of grocery stores. When their Santa Monica location hosted it’s launch party not long ago, the list at the door read like a who’s who of wellness in LA.

Yes, it can be obnoxious to be this serious about vegetables (and tonics and bone broth cleanses), but the truth is, most of us could use a bit more pep in our step when it comes to good nutrition.

While Erewhon may not be universally accessible, it’s providing a home for some of the most cutting edge new brands in health and wellness, as well as providing access to top tier wellness products we’re more than happy to help popularize.

Jason Widener is an Erewhon VP and manages the newest Santa Monica location. After several run-ins with Jason that included intense trades of tips, product recommendations and insights, we knew we had to feature his personal habits and faves on TCM.

Check out all our My Staples features here, but first dive in for an insider’s guide to Erewhon everything…

Daily breakfast:

I tend to go light in the morning, so I start each day with a full glass of water. Next, I’ll have a bone broth tonic and celery juice once I get to the store. Bone broth is filling — it’s loaded with nutrients and beneficial fats. I drink celery juice because it’s hydrating and gives me energy. I normally don’t eat until 11am/12pm and, most of the time, it’ll be a superfood smoothie and steamed vegetables. In addition to drinking lots of water, I graze throughout the day and make sure I eat a big salad at some point (sometimes I’ll add a piece of salmon to it).

I’m lucky to work at Erewhon and have such amazing food at my fingertips. If I know I’m going to have an especially active or physical day, I will eat a more hearty breakfast — biodynamic eggs from Apricot Lane Farms on our paleo toast and a superfood smoothie for extra protein (I lean towards plant-based proteins, they’re more digestible for me).

Food philosophy:

Less is more…eat clean and as close to nature as possible.

Daily supplements:

I get the majority of my nutrients from whole organic foods, but I do take CBD two to three times per week. I also focus on probiotics and incorporating lots of fermented veggies into my meals because the gut/brain connection is so important.

Can’t live without...

A daily ritual of setting intentions first thing in the morning and reflecting every night. So many people live outside of themselves, in the constant external stimulus that surrounds us. We react to stress and pressures without strengthening our moral compass.

Because I’ve always been physically active, I’m able to clear my mind when I focus on my body. This outward repetition of exercises helps me to fortify my inward intentions and reactions.

Once a week for my health I...

Don’t do anything once a week! My morning ritual is to breathe, move and stretch. This includes active hanging, which I have done since my rock climbing days — it strengthens my grip, decompresses my spine and strengthens my shoulders and rotator cuffs. Then I take a cold shower. It centers me, clears my mind and energizes me for the day ahead.

Favorite workout:

Definitely getting out in nature with my family: hiking, camping, cooking, swimming (even in the winter, I find cold water invigorating!).

Best healthy food option on-the-go:

At work, I love our Zeus Mousse. At home, I make a green superfood protein shake and I’m ready for where the day takes me! I also always have sprouted nuts on hand for a quick energy boost.

Three staples always in my medicine cabinet:

CBD, Rixx lotion and coconut oil (good for so many uses!).

At least once a week I cook:

I take an Apricot Lane Farms stewing hen to make a biodynamic broth that I then transform into a multitude of soups, loaded with steamed veggies and herbs.

My best health advice:

Listen to your body. What works for me might not work for you. If I were to define my philosophy of eating, I most closely follow Donna Gate’s Body Ecology diet. I’ve personalized it, but that’s what works for my body. It focuses on creating good bacteria in your intestines. It makes me focus on how my body digests, and it’s all about the gut biome, making sure my probiotic microflora are super healthy. If you have that, you are the majority of the way to optimal internal health.

For the most part I follow an 80/20 rule (80% fruits and vegetables, 20% grains and proteins) plus only eating to 80% capacity. I go very light on grains, dairy, gluten and sugars (anything that causes inflammation). Again, that’s for me personally. My body operates best when I don’t mix grains and meats. It’s all about microbiotics and building a harmonious ecosystem in the gut.

By following these simple rules, I find my body performs more efficiently. So my advice is to eat simply and see what works for you. You’ll know by your sleep patterns, cognition and energy levels. One thing I know for sure, no one has ever said, gut health is not important. Once you dial in your gut, the brain and body falls in line. Everything starts in the gut.

Current reading list:

My 400 emails a day. Seriously. But when I have time I’m dedicated to learning more about the gut/brain connection. And re-reading Wim Hof and Alan Watts.

Ingredient I always avoid:

Refined sugar. Actually, anything refined or processed.

Crazy health idea that actually works:

Cold showers! But only if your immune system is strong. Cold showers build your internal fire and increase your Qi. They teach me to breathe, stay calm, let go and put fear aside. Despite the discomfort, I know I can breathe through it. This helps me in all aspects of my day.

Living in LA can sometimes be stressful and retail is a fast-paced business. Since I have been ritualizing my cold showers, I feel more centered, calm and yet have more energy. I believe it’s because it helps open up my capillaries and increases my blood flow. As I stand beneath the flowing water, I breathe as deeply as I can…deep into the pelvic girdle. I’m currently at 20-30 breaths, my goal is to get to five minutes…I do a little more each day.

Always in my travel gear:

It’s actually my camp kit: headlamp, fixed blade knife, axe, iron skillet, fire source and…sardines! Hugo (my 14-year-old rescue dog) loves them. That’s our special treat I always have in my kit.

Non-negotiable:

I practice stillness. I sit with my spine straight at least ten minutes a day, no matter what is going on around me. I have a Chinese yoga practice where I lift and stretch, pulling the knots out of my spine. I sit in the physical practice and I set my intentions. As I train my physicality — stretching my spine, breathing in deeply, being centered and aware of my body and internal systems — I’m simultaneously and consistently making conscious choices thus becoming second nature.

I believe all health and wellness starts with intent and then putting that intent into practice. In terms of my intentions, I always pick something I can improve upon (currently, I’m working on communication with those around me, both at work and at home).

Simple way to improve health:

Eat organic.

Go-to smoothie:

Our Green Goddess smoothie. All day long.

Favorite healthy getaway:

Buckhorn campsite. It’s a quick drive out of LA, but feels worlds away. I’m not exaggerating — even if I only have one day off, we are off to the woods. It’s more physical, more peaceful, more centering and more bonding than any spa or fancy destination could ever be for us.

Current mantra:

Find your nowhere.

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