Interview
Renée Loux

Renée Loux

We caught up with the trendsetter in the environmental and sustainable food movement. This is what she had to share about foods for the season, beauty foods, and her life today between L.A. and N.Y.C.

The gorgeous green-eyed Renée Loux is a trendsetter in the environmental and sustainable food movement. A true pioneer, she founded the country’s first raw food restaurant ‘The Raw Experience’ in 1996. Today she is an acclaimed author, a TV host, a chef and an eco-adviser. We met in New York to talk about foods for the season, beauty foods, and her life split between L.A. and N.Y.C.

Part of what I love about all of this is that it challenges me to expand and innovate.

BWB: What are the projects you have been working on recently?

Writing, teaching, consulting and developing culinary curriculums have been my primary focus recently, and are the things that get me most excited.
I notice that I seem to like having a few things on my plate at the same time.

I work with a few culinary schools, including the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC and the University of Hawaii Maui Culinary Academy, to develop curriculums and training programs for plant-based and progressive cuisine. I teach as well, which is truly one of my favorite things of all time.

Part of what I love about all of this is that it challenges me to expand and innovate. I’ve also been working with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture on some visionary projects and programs around food system change.

The Mobile Kitchen Classroom is one that we are very excited about. It’s a semester-long, interdisciplinary program about food designed for the high school level. The study of food in the program is threaded through classic academic disciplines including history, science, social studies, political science and so forth.
I see it as a scalable program to contribute to really meaningful change, including and especially to catalyze the coming generation of thought-leaders and change-makers.

Moreover, the project that trumps all with joy, is parenting my beautiful son who is 2-1/2 years old. His presence in my life broadens my horizon and inspires me to continue to pursue the work that calls me. It often feels like quite a juggling act to maintain a healthy balance of family and work, but in the process, he is becoming a great little sous chef!

Color can be a brilliant guide as the colors of foods are indicative of many of the compounds that food contains.

BWB: What are your favorite ‘beauty foods’ for young women and for more mature women?

I am drawn to and prescribe anything naturally rich in color, especially greens, and high-quality sources of healthy fat.
Color can be a brilliant guide as the colors of foods are indicative of many of the compounds that food contains. Generally, the deeper and more vibrant the color, the more nutrients it contains.
For example, antioxidants are all beautifully colored, pigment-rich compounds that protect and repair the body and skin from oxidative and sun damage and the natural process of aging.
I also view green foods as a fountain of health. It’s important to eat greens every single day – or every single meal!

I also value healthy fats immensely for overall health and to beautify skin, hair and virtually every cell in the body. The membrane of all cells is primarily made of lipids (fats) and nourishing cells’ membranes with healthy fats is hugely important to help them.
I consider healthy fats to be plant-based, unrefined and ideally eaten in a raw state, meaning not cooked at high temperatures, to preserve all of the delicate, good-for-you benefits.
My favorite sources are avocado, raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax and chia seeds, olives and extra-virgin olive oil, and coconut oil.

I am personally a fan of the caffeine in green tea, and I find it doesn’t cause me fatigue in the long run like other caffeinated beverages.

BWB: This winter what are your favorite ingredients to stay healthy and keep good levels of energy?

On my table, I include ample amounts of greens and healthy fats. Dark leafy greens are something I crave and eat all year long, though they are often the most flavorful and sweet in the colder months as leafy green plants produce extra sugars which work like natural antifreeze to protect plants from the cold.
In fact, greens like kale and collard greens can grow beautifully in temperatures as cold as 15˚F (-9˚C) and are remarkably delicious.

I am also not shy about eating ample amounts of high-quality, healthy fats. They are not only so good for the body and skin and provide lots of energy, but also luscious and very satisfying.

And, another one of my other favorites is green tea. It is a prolific source of antioxidants, including a unique group called catechins, which have distinct anti-aging factors, boost metabolism, recruit muscles to use fat and improve cognitive function. I am personally a fan of the caffeine in green tea, and I find it doesn’t cause me fatigue in the long run like other caffeinated beverages. Plus, I am mad about the taste of a really good green tea, particularly varieties like matcha and gyokuru, yum!

I find the discipline of having a morning and evening practice to be tremendously supportive to wellbeing overall, not to mention that the first thing and last thing of any given day is when I can find at least a few minutes to dedicate to myself before the day has taken on a life of its own.

BWB: What is your wellness routine?

I love how that question is phrased and I very much connect to the word wellness as it feels very holistic and takes an elevated view of things.
For me, it is a routine to keep a balance of movement, meditation, nourishment and rest. I am quite ritualistic both in the mornings and before bed and then it varies depending on where I am and what my schedule is.

First thing in the morning, I do a short series of activities and stretches to get my juices flowing and wake up. I also have a breathing practice that I’ve been doing virtually every morning for ages.
The beauty of both of these is that they are self-reliant and can be done anywhere!

My before-bed ritual includes a bit of gentle yoga and stretching to signal to my body that it will soon be time to rest. I do think this ritual is part of why I sleep very well, and I treasure sleep deeply!

I find the discipline of having a morning and evening practice to be tremendously supportive to wellbeing overall, not to mention that the first thing and last thing of any given day is when I can find at least a few minutes to dedicate to myself before the day has taken on a life of its own.

Outside of these daily rituals, I find that where I am generally influences what I do. When I am in NYC, I walk and walk and walk; in Los Angeles I take several glorious, rigorous hikes in the hills and canyons every week; when I am near the ocean in Maui or Martha’s Vineyard, I swim, stand-up paddle and run on the beach.
In many ways, I view the exercise part of wellbeing to be something I incorporate into my life organically.
Finding the time to set aside to work out, train or go to a class is not always realistic for me. Instead, I like to keep active all day long. Plus, I have a 2-1/2 year old son who is very active and is a joyful wellness routine in himself!

It’s not uncommon to see a beauty product promoted as natural and pure, with botanical extracts and so forth, but that has an ingredient deck full of chemicals and preservatives.

BWB: You have been a trendsetter in the environmental and sustainable food movement. What do you think of the changes happening in the beauty industry? Do you have some favorite brands? 

Overall I am amazed at many of the changes in the beauty industry, particularly in the trends towards cleaner, plant-based formulations.
In many ways, it’s a direct reflection of the laws of supply and demand. The market has changed dramatically, in even the past 10 years, in response to the increased interest and demand for natural products. As a result, we are seeing more and more beautiful and sophisticated brands and products. It is wonderful.

At the same time, I see a somewhat flagrant misuse of terms and claims that can be very misleading. It’s not uncommon to see a beauty product promoted as natural and pure, with botanical extracts and so forth, but that has an ingredient deck full of chemicals and preservatives.
One of the fundamental issues in the US is that there are virtually no laws for labeling and ingredients in personal care, cosmetics and beauty products. So, it is really up to the consumer to become educated.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of exquisite formulas from incredible brands that have lots of integrity. Some of my favorites for skincare and bodycare are Amala, La Mer, Spa Technologies, and Tata Harper.

Read more about Renée Loux HERE.

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