What’s the connection between food and family? I caught up with “Food Forward” executive producer Anna Getty—and her beautiful baby Roman—before an Natural Products Expo West screening to talk about her involvement with the series and the natural lifestyle movement. “Food Forward” is a PBS series that travels across America profiling the amazing innovators who are transforming our food system. With its emphasis on positive and proactive action, in just one season the series racked up more than 2.5 million views—as well as a James Beard Award nomination for excellence in broadcasting.
“I’m kind of a geek like that…Food and food ingredients turn me on.” You’ve been involved in the natural movement for years. How did you get started and what keeps you involved?
Originally it goes back to my childhood. My mom was enthusiastic about it. We lived in San Francisco and shopped at health food stores. She was a Buddhist and we would go to Green Gulch, this beautiful farm. I ate carrots instead of chocolate!
I became reintroduced to the movement through kundalini yoga, and then I met [the restaurateur] Akasha. I was working for [another caterer] at the time [who] would take packaged brownies and add walnuts and call it homemade. Akasha was working with Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand and she would tell me about traveling with them and finding organic ingredients. She was always putting things under my nose and saying, “Smell this! Taste this!” I saw the difference. She introduced me to The Organic Center. I’m still so blessed by Akasha’s passion.
In terms of staying involved, I don’t know—I’m kind of a geek like that. I like the people in this industry. They’re business people too, they want to make money like everyone else, but they’re also trying to do good in the community and make a difference. David Karr and his brothers who own Guayaki, and the acai guys, my friends who own Big Tree Farms in Bali. I want to be a part of that. Dan Barber and Alice Waters, they’re inspiring to me. Food and food ingredients turn me on.
I just want to be involved in projects that are impactful. There are philanthropists who have a wide net, but for me, I have to focus. Obviously because of Pregnancy Awareness, pregnancy has been significant to me for the past 10 years. Moving forward, I just want to be involved in projects that are impactful. So the focus will be on education and awareness. There are philanthropists who have a wide net, but for me, I have to focus. I’m getting involved in a new film about Paul Stamets. The documentary is about mushrooms—they are food but they also have a much more impactful way of affecting the Earth and our health.
Your three children are growing up in a world that often contradicts the ideals of the natural lifestyle. How do you parent—by rule or example?
Probably a combination of both. My daughter is 10 now. Early on I would say, “You don’t get to eat that and here’s why.” But now that she’s bigger I say, “India, you know what’s in there, you know that’s toxic and can cause harm to your body. Do you really want to eat that, just because your friends are eating it?” She has to decide; she has dominion over her own body. So she generally doesn’t eat red velvet cupcakes, because of the food dyes that are in them. But we were at a birthday party and that was the last one left and it was small and she said, “I think I want to eat that.” And I said, “It’s okay once in a while.” At home, I don’t buy the toxic dyes for making cookies so ours are always violet and baby blue—the dyes are from blueberries, raspberries and beets. It’s what [my older children] India and Dante know.
But my fiancé, Scott, will have an In ‘n Out burger every once in a while. That’s fine. I will never do that—there’s nothing that tempts me. But we have a son together and if he wants to share a burger with him once a year I’m not going to deny him that!
How does “Food Forward” shift the conversation in terms of creating a healthier lifestyle?
Greg [Roden] made it very sexy and positive. I love that “Food Forward” is about solution-oriented, creative people—educated people who left careers that weren’t fulfilling for them, or farmers who have been in it for generations. They’re inspiring people—doing good by being who they are and focused on doing better.
A portion of this interview appeared on New Hope 360.