Last month, we hosted a panel of women we love in the food space at the first ever Clean Made LA. Panelists included Elizabeth Stein of Purely Elizabeth, Candace Nelson of Pizzana and Sprinkles, celebrity nutritionist and author Kelly LeVeque, and Kacie Carter and Caitlyn Sullivan of Honey Hi.

During our discussion, each woman had the chance to share the fascinating story behind their businesses – and their unique perspective on what’s happening now in wellness. Everything from cutting edge food sourcing practices to rapidly changing consumer perspective came up in our conversation and we knew we had to share the full convo here for readers to enjoy.

Despite our editor Suzanne’s rather tall seat in the panel line-up above, we hope you enjoy the video and leave us your own comments about these topics in the comments below. Here were a few of our favorite moments…

Wellness Is Everywhere

Elizabeth launched Pureley Elizabeth with the expectation that it would be on the bottom shelf at LA’s Erewhon. Now the brand is in every major retail grocer – from Target to Walmart – in addition to the healthy stores you’d expect to find it in. There’s been a huge shift in accessibility.

Shelf-stability used to be a larger priority with retailers, Elizabeth notes. Adding coconut oil to a product was unheard of! Now things have begun to change and retailers have shifted their expectations.

When Candace set out to start Sprinkles, cupcakes were a cheap, low quality grocery store product. To start, Sprinkles had an uphill battle, teaching their consumer about the value of real ingredients that not only tasted better, but made people feel better eating them. Companies like Sprinkles helped to subtly educate consumers about the value of higher quality ingredients.

Accessibility vs. Sustainability

There are wellness resources available for all, even if you don’t live in the heart of LA. As Kelly suggests, if you don’t have a grass-fed beef butcher, there are services like Butcher’s Box who can deliver. If you don’t want to spend all your savings on food – a key topic in wellness these days! – Thrive Market provides a wonderful and affordable solution. According to Kelly, sustainability is also about building habits that you can keep up with. You’re probably not going to become a raw vegan over night, but if you find a few products and restaurants that get you excited about eating more veggies, you’re already working your way to a higher level of well being.

On Flexitarianism + the Individual
As mentioned by the ladies of Honey Hi, many are realizing that there isn’t just one formula for eating healthfully. Honey Hi embraces flexitarianism (see our piece on the topic here). Rather than abiding by one way of eating, the cafe serves up healthy options for every kind of diet with the through-line of better ingredients.
Kelly’s celebrity clients too are paying attention to specialized, personal diets. As a nutritionist working one-on-one with clients, Kelly is able to tailor diets to individual food sensitivities, body types, and lifestyles. There’s not one formula that works for all. Our ideas of “healthy” are changing and becoming as diverse as they should be to suit individual needs.
On Responsible Sourcing
Well-sourced food is now an indicator of a luxury food experience in our books. Pizzana prides itself in meticulous ingredient-sourcing which includes their very own plot of San Marzano tomatoes grown just for them and Italian pizza flour that is prepared in a traditional style for a more digestible pizza.Honey Hi has taken a ground-breaking approach to sourcing local produce and helped upgrade ingredient-sourcing across the entire LA food scene. The ladies piloted a program that allows small restaurants and cafes to source organic produce they’d previously not had access to.
About All the Trends
Everyone on our panel is aware of the major – and minor- food trends. Trends can cause fatigue, sure, but in the end, they are an easy entry point into the world of wellness for consumers and usually lead to positive change. Purely Elizabeth has created quite a few trend-driven products over the years and have watched as a positive interest in healthy foods have grown throughout the hyper-trendiness of things like chia seeds and mushroom powder. Trend foods can welcome new consumers to dip a toe in, get engaged and eventually move beyond trends towards sustainable lifestyle choices.
On Bioavailability
Kelly lead the chat on the science-y concept that’s surprisingly becoming part of our everyday conversations about food – bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to how much of a food or supplement our bodies are actually able to process well. Learn all about it in the clip above and learn more on the topic here.
Traditional Process + Slowing DownWhere there once was a focus on speed and efficiency in the food world, we’re starting to see a trend towards traditional methods and a slowed pace. Pizzana’s dough is made the traditional way, that is to say, it takes a long time. Many of Honey Hi’s menu items are offered at reasonable prices although they’re prepared with a bit more time and attention than what you may find down the street. More restaurants are turning towards traditional techniques to improve the quality of their food – not just because they feel like it, but because customers are demanding it more and more.
The trend is clear on the business side of things are well. Elizabeth mentions to the group that NASA runs on a 40-hour work week, which effects the way she runs the team schedules. If NASA can get things done in a square work week, we can probably afford to pare back in our own schedule too..

What did you learn from the panel discussion? Share your questions, comments and reflections with us below!
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