Bringing health to the world: An interview with Nicolette Richer

It’s our first Sea To Sky Thrivers’ blog post!

What better way than to kick things off than with a chat with our founder Nicolette, the CEO of the expanding Green Moustache restaurant chain and wellness-warrior behind Richer Health Consulting. Between TEDx talks, workshops, Veg Expos, fundraising events and launching a third organisation I caught up with her to chat about the Sea To Sky Thrivers Society.

 Nicolette Richer, CEO and founder of The Green Moustache, Richer Health and The Sea To Sky Thrivers Society

Nicolette Richer, CEO and founder of The Green Moustache, Richer Health and The Sea To Sky Thrivers Society

 “We started the Green Moustache, not just as a restaurant but as an educational institution.” She reminisces, referring to the many courses, workshops and retreats she hosts for eager clients. Even the restaurant tables are covered in nutrition books!

But she realised that, to bring about real change, it had to be more accessible,

   “We knew there were individuals and groups who couldn’t afford corporate workshops or one on one nutritional consulting, so we created a non-profit arm of the Green Moustache so we could bring these services to elementary and high school students, First Nations who suffer from high rates of type II diabetes, the elderly, and other marginalised groups in the community”.

High energy by nature at the best of times, Nicolette is especially excited when she sees sick people experiencing real results when it comes to their health:

“There’s nothing that excites me more than when we’ve inspired someone to take their health into their own hands - often when they’ve hit rock bottom – and they make the lifestyle changes that allows their doctors to get them off their prescription drugs, or cancel a surgery, or they become pregnant after years of trying, they feel better, their chronic pain is gone, they are energised and healthy again - there’s nothing more amazing than that.”

 Teaching one of her interactive nutritional health retreats 

Teaching one of her interactive nutritional health retreats 

What's next?

 Nicolette with the Sea To Sky Thrivers' Board at their 2017 launch party.

Nicolette with the Sea To Sky Thrivers' Board at their 2017 launch party.

And Nicolette plans to see a lot more of that in the future, with the programs that the Sea To Sky Thrivers are serving up to get real medical nutritional resources to people who need them. She has a lot planned for the next 5 years - from the two school programs, the First Nations diabetes program, Nutrition 101 for Physicians workshops and composting and soil reclamation initiatives the Thrivers are running.

“We are working hard in creating great partnerships with organizations like Dreamrider Productions, where we hope to deliver our elementary school programs to over 20,000 kids across BC. I see us [running our Eat Real to Heal workshops] in every high school in the province, and eventually expanding into other communities beyond the Sea To Sky.” Never one to be deterred by big dreams, she adds: “It really could be global!”

As for the cradle to cradle Compost to Soil to Microgreens program, she wants to see more restaurants engaging in it, working towards an organic, sustainable food supply chain using the community’s compost. And after that?

“I want to work with researchers in First Nations communities to actually implement and measure the reduction of type II diabetes. Oh, and I want to see a Green Moustache Cafe in every hospital!”

Beyond that, Nicolette has another issue close to her heart that she wants to bring to the world.

 Dr. Max Gerson, pioneer of The Gerson Therapy in the 1920s. 

Dr. Max Gerson, pioneer of The Gerson Therapy in the 1920s. 

“I’m going to make a feature-length documentary on the life of Dr. Max Gerson. He was a phenomenal individual and his story needs to be told.” Her passion shines through as she speaks of the 1920s doctor who pioneered plant-based medicine, “He was humble, he was a servant, and a medical doctor who gave his time and his life to researching and practicing nutritional medicine. He work helped thousands of people reverse and even cure their cancer and other chronic illnesses. He identified the body as being its own self-healing organism and he knew that the damage we do to our environment, our water, soil and air, affect our body’s ability to heal itself. He deserves to have a film made about him. Also, the history of nutritional medicine needs to be told – how the Nazi party came into play and really derailed the research and the funding for nutritional medicine.”  

Nicolette has big plans for a future where societies are waking up to the terrible effects of the modern diet we’ve somehow ended up endulging in. But there’s a long way to go, and as our talk turns to Government and society, it’s clear that the community still has some persuading to do.

How does Government play in all this?

“At the Government level we need to crack down on agricultural farming practices that use heavy chemicals and fertilisers that are seriously impacting our health. Government and industry need to create policy that will highlight the difference between real food and imitation food – food that is grown in soil and on trees and bushes and then transferred directly to your mouth vs food that is synthetic and created in a lab or manufacturing plant first. This fake food needs to be labelled ‘imitation’ like it was in the 20s until the big Food industry muscled in and essentially vetoed that policy. Government needs to look at what they’re serving in the high schools, elementary schools and the universities, and stop serving the world’s crappiest food to the worlds brightest and growing minds!”

And it’s in subsidising and supporting the right businesses and the right foods growers, too –

“Government can also play a role in supporting restaurants and markets that do focus on nutrient-rich plant-based foods to make it more accessible to people. They need to look at communities, at how they can support the production and consumption of nutritious foods instead of packaged processed foods – and we need more money going towards whole-food multi-variable nutritional research.”

What advice does Nicolette have for families?

 Fresh, real food is all you need - and without competition from highly flavoured processed competition, kids will gladly eat it.

Fresh, real food is all you need - and without competition from highly flavoured processed competition, kids will gladly eat it.

“Keep it Simple - it’s the simplest but probably the hardest thing to do at the same time, but families will do ok if they follow this one simple rule – if it was made in a plant, don’t buy it, and if it is a plant, consume it!” She paraphrases Michael Pollan, a knowledgeable author and journalist in the plant-based world. “Really what this means is if you have to read the label, don’t buy it. If it has no label, it comes from the ocean, or the soil, or a garden or tree or a bush, then consume it – but if somebody had to be the middle man then leave that junky stuff behind. If it’s canned, processed, packaged or preserved then don’t spend your hard earned dollars on it – it’s just not worth it”.

 “And stop stressing about recipes!” she laughs. “At the end of the day a dessert can be a handful of dates or frozen bananas blended into ice cream, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Kids do love fruits and vegetables, so allow them to eat them – cooked, raw, or blended, it doesn’t matter – just make sure they are available at all times. But the key is you can’t have competing foods in the cupboard because those competing processed foods will always win out over the healthy stuff.”

“I’m just curious all the time... I research the heck out of it, I never blindly accept what somebody else tells me is good for me.”

As we talk, the breadth of her knowledge is apparent, and I ask her how she knows so much about nutrition. Since her undergraduate degree and masters, her resume has acquired the titles Orthomolecular Health educator, Gerson Therapy home set up trainer and Psych-Kinaesthetic facilitator, but her knowledge of nutrition and health betrays a lifetime of studying.

 A super-savvy family - Nicolette and her husband Pierre attend trade shows and events across BC spreading their message

A super-savvy family - Nicolette and her husband Pierre attend trade shows and events across BC spreading their message

“Research, research, research! I need to know everything!” She says emphatically, and I believe her.

 “I’m just curious all the time. Like when people start talking about the latest and greatest health regimes, I don’t just buy into it immediately. I research the heck out of it – the science behind it, I talk to people to gather anecdotal evidence, I observe what’s happening in the world – sometimes I try it out on myself and use my body as a living laboratory, but I never blindly accept what somebody else tells me is good for me.”

And she’s teaching her three daughters to be the same, bringing them up with an admirable awareness of where their food is from and what it does to their bodies.

 “I think that people who were born in the last 80 years have been born into the processed food world and a lot of people don’t even realise the difference between imitation food and real, wholesome, nutrient dense food. With 1 in 2 people now being diagnosed with cancer now and 1 in 4 people living with a chronic degenerative disease, I feel like it’s my job to give my kids a chance! You know, heart disease is the second leading cause of death, and cancer is the first – then you have medical error being the 3rd leading cause of death!!! When it comes to chronic degenerative diseases, pharmaceutical medications can do more harm than good – there’s not a single pharmaceutical drug that doesn’t have horrible side effects – sometimes including death. It’s my job to teach my kids how to keep their bodies strong and resilient and to keep their immune system and their metabolism functioning optimally so that they don’t have to face those lifestyle illnesses that plague our society.”

“Yah, it’s hard work and it would definitely be easier for me to choose the foods that are sweet and salty and savoury and packaged and colourful and for sure my kids would devour it - but at the end of the day it would be doing them considerable harm[the science proves it] – I couldn’t live with myself.”

Judging by how healthy, vibrant and energetic those kids are, I’d say she is doing the right thing. As for Nicolette taking the easy route? Never. From the Sea To Sky Thrivers office, I can tell you – the woman doesn’t stop.

 The Richer family 

The Richer family 

For more information on our programs or to see how you can get involved and help us bring our message of health to communities far and wide, join our newsletter! We will also have plenty of volunteering opportunities coming up and would love to have you on board.  

   Do you know a classroom who would love to host our Eat Real To Heal programs? We’re looking for teachers who want to incorporate an interative, fun nutrition class into their lesson plans! Get in touch at info@seatoskythrivers.com.