Instagram has led me to everything from coffee meet ups, to business and event leads, and PR pitching opportunities. I had the pleasure of "meeting" Samantha Carrie Johnson of Eat Real or Die through the photo sharing platform, and knew she had to be my next Gastronoir feature. We're all very much aware of the eat clean and eat green trends of the food world. SCJ takes it a step further, incorporating this philosophy in her day-to-day, maintaining her livelihood, and intentionally pursuing her passion.
Tell us about your EatRealorDie philosophy and how did you come about doing it full-time?
SCJ: The Eat Real or Die ® Philosophy is all about reaching an optimal health-focused lifestyle via a diet of sustainable ingredients, plant-based nourishment and eco-consciousness. Consistency could have a direct impact on Ocean and Wild Land Conservation, Bio-Diversity and combat Climate Change. Truly if it wasn't for the grace of God and the unwavering support of my family and friends I wouldn't be able to do this full-time. I started out studying agriculture in high school, followed my passions as an actor, model and film student, and randomly became a beauty queen. At 23, I went into the family business opening my first restaurant with my chef/restaurateur mother. I realized I needed to take my own path after a quarter life crisis (laughs) and had a quick stint in Italy. I came back to start the beginnings of my business, and I have been on this crazy almost six year journey ever since. There is no simple answer for how I do this full-time but I'm doing it.
Living between Philly and NYC, there is a ton of access to organic, local and vegan/vegetarian options. What pieces of clean eating advice can you give to non-city dwellers who want to enjoy the green lifestyle with convenience?
SCJ: There are similarities in both city and rural living simply because there can be a food desert anywhere. For those who may not be aware of what that is, it's essentially any area where it is particularly difficult to find nutritious and affordable "real food" like fresh fruit and vegetables. A "green lifestyle" with convenience is all about creating the convenience for your particular lifestyle. Most people tend to be super busy and on-the-go. The solution is to make one or two days a week your shopping days when you bulk shop for all of your meal prepping needs and then prep of course.
You made mention of creating the convenience yourself. Growing your own seems to be a great way in which to achieve that. What are some non-traditional foods that folks can grow in their apartments?
SCJ: A great place to start GYO or "growing your own" is with herbs, sprouts and micro greens. Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, Thai basil, and chive are critical to vibrant, flavor-packed cooking. Seed and legume sprouts and micro greens are immature plants with concentrated nutrients. They are all great for salads, sandwiches, smoothies and even garnish.
Whether for business or pleasure, travel has become a forefront in many Millennials' lives. I personally am often frustrated with the meal options that are available in the airport/train station etc. What are a few of your travel snack recommendations?
SCJ: I do travel quite a bit but I have never been a snacker. I stick to raw nuts, bananas and water. I know, super boring but airports are getting so much better these days with their plant-based/organic food selections. For example, Atlanta has a great juice bar called We Juice It, and LAX has my favorite vegan spot called Real Food Daily. I die for their vegan chocolate cake.
"A 'green lifestyle' with convenience is all about creating the convenience for your particular lifestyle."
As New Yorkers, we're loyal to our Whole Foods and grocery delivery services. What are a few resources that are often overlooked when it comes to buying foods that fit the "clean" bill?
SCJ: A resource that is overlooked when it comes to buying quality food is quite frankly, yourself. It's great to have the easy of picking up your smart phone, pressing a few buttons and all of your necessities appear, but where is the self-reliance? Nothing is easy about the world we live in but a part of the problem is making the easy everyday things in life seems harder than they need to be. We have to respect and own our power and impact in the world.
Unfortunately most farmers’ markets don't have delivery services, but the bonus of being a hands-on shopper is that you can support a small business like a farm stand which feeds the economy, and most importantly you know who the grower and maker of your food is. The transparency is there. Most local and small business farmers are growing organically, or certified naturally grown, selling their produce at prices that make you never want to walk into a Whole Foods again. You are able to trust that the food you are purchasing to consume is actually good for your body, supports the local economy and has a cleaner environmental impact.
Talk more about your goal of sustainability in your day-today life.
SCJ: Sustainability in my everyday life encompasses a number of things: from my self-made toothpaste of baking soda and essential oils, to the fresh fruit and vegetables that I purchase from a local farmer. I drink from mason jars and carry my food in glass storage containers. I have a minimalist wardrobe with vintage and current pieces chosen for quality and longevity over trend. I own my little car that was given to me by my grandmother when she could no longer drive and it costs $20 to fill up. When not needing to drive I walk, ride my bike, and take a bus or train. When the car breaks down I will get a hybrid.
There are so many little things that we can do to live healthier and more environmentally-sustainable lives. We have to make more conscious decisions with our money knowing what we invest in thrives, and what we don't is sure to fail. If we support local farms and better food for all, then we should support that instead of shopping at Whole Foods and complaining about the cost. I vote with my dollar daily, and it's step many of us can take.