Summary: September 21, 2012 Sustainability for Lunch
Host: The Light Cellar
Sustainability for Breakfast is a monthly gathering for people interested in networking and learning about ways to make Calgary more resilient. The breakfast events have become so popular over the past two years that the co-organizers (REAP and the Office of Sustainability at The City of Calgary) decided to pilot a lunch series from June-September, 2012. Each month features a different local business and a tour of its operations to learn more about its sustainability practices.
“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” William Wordsworth
About 25 people enter the 250 square-foot shop, and make their way through a narrow doorway that opens into a bright and modern kitchen. Counters and racks are neatly lined with colourful jars of purple sauerkraut, blue algae, bright pink goji berries, various tinctures and powders, mead and cider. A large pot of stew simmers in the corner of the kitchen, making the whole room smell delicious.
The gathering of people in this kitchen today are here as part of REAP’s “Sustainability for Lunch” series, a monthly opportunity to visit a local business and tour its operations to learn more about its sustainability practices.
Malcolm Saunders of The Light Cellar was the host of September’s lunch. Tucked humbly into a small strip mall in Bowness, the store specializes in “authentic, raw, organic superfoods and herbs”. The location also features a teaching and production kitchen, which is where today’s group has gathered. Saunders and his wife, Laura Milinusic, started the operation about five years ago, first working out of their basement before expanding into a retail location.
After feeding his audience a subtly spiced stew made with sprouted quinoa, buckwheat, and mushrooms, he stands in front of his well-nourished listeners and lightheartedly describes his own journey towards health, and teaching others about good food.
Rebelling from his family’s Scottish culinary tradition, Saunders became vegetarian (or “carb-atarian” he jokes, having taken on the new diet without understanding nutrition) at a young age. His health initially suffered from a lack of nutrients and low blood sugar.
He then took the task of good health to the extreme. For a year, Saunders ate nothing from a restaurant or out of a package. While dabbling with other nutritional extremes over the years, including a raw diet, Saunders also began a spiritual journey, studying meditation and yoga.
While at spiritual retreats, he often found himself working in the kitchen or garden. He also began to educate himself more about nutrition and good health, which ultimately lead to him to establish The Light Cellar.
As he speaks, it is clear that Saunder’s knowledge is deep, and has real, practical application. His has a non-judgmental approach, and he suggests eating healthy foods, including “superfoods” like cocao and gogi berries that are especially high in vital nutrients. He also teaches people how to prepare these foods for optimal health.
“You don’t have to be a raw foodist,” he says. “It’s about what you can add into your diet. We offer the upgrades.”
“I don’t follow any diet, my body tells me what it needs and what it wants,” he adds.
The 1-hour Sustainability for Lunch session left the audience well-fed, and with very useful knowledge or ways to improve their own health at home, including a simple recipe for homemade sauerkraut. And, the audience was introduced to a successful and unique business operating in Calgary.
“I like that there’s an activity at these events,” says Laryssa Warne of Bullfrog Power, a regular attendee of the Sustainability for Lunch series. “It’s not just a networking session. The kind of people who attend (the series) are the kind of people I want to meet for my environmental business. It also exposes you to a local business that you might not know about, going in the back door and really learning about that business”.
This article is the second in a new series of REAP event summaries, helping to capture the content and insights generated by REAP’s ongoing events. Kirti Bhadresa is REAP Member and local entrepreneur. For more information visit www.caboose-ink.ca.