Isa Souza is a chef who lives in both the U.S. and her native Brazil. (Facebook/Isa Souza)
Brazilian chef Isa Souza is an ecogastronomy expert. She recently published a wonderful culinary book, Isa Vida y Sabor. Fácil, Sano y Sabroso, based on easy, healthy and tasty recipes that improve the quality of life, with an environmental commitment.
Isa Vida y Sabor. Fácil, Sano y Sabroso is now available and it’s sold at bookstores like Books & Books, and through www.Amazon.com.
In an interview for Living Out Loud, Souza talked about the term ecogastronomy, passion for cooking, and Isa Vida y Sabor. Fácil, Sano y Sabroso, among other things.
Living Out Loud: What is the meaning of the term, ‘ecogastronomy’?
Isa Souza: The term came about around the time when organic products became popular here in the U.S. It serves as a tool to teach people what it is to be on an organic diet…It also refers to what you as a person can do to contribute to a better environment, because it’s something you can do from your home. Actually, from your own kitchen. For example, with sugar, you can now just buy refills, you don’t have to use so much plastic by buying containers every time you run out. This helps control waste. So all these small things we do from our own kitchen, like eating organic, and buying your produce from local purveyors, and buying foods in-season, will all be contributing to helping others and not consuming foods that are chemically altered or regulated. So that’s what this ‘ecogastronomy’ movement is all about.
LOL: How did this passion of yours develop and when did you put it in practice?
IS: For me, it’s a family thing. We all come from a large and ethnically diverse family in the south of Brazil. My father would always talk about the importance of eating healthy, so I think that’s what inspired me from a young age. Then I eventually moved to Europe and then to the U.S., and I began to realize just how difficult it is to eat healthy in those places, so I began to dedicate myself to changing that.
LOL: How would you motivate people who don’t follow ‘ecogastronomical’ practices?
IS: A lot of people look at the concept in a general sense. But as long as you’re doing your part, whatever small gesture you can do to help the environment and eat healthier, is enough. It’s a group effort, and once people realize that, it will be more successful. You also have to make an effort to eat organic, because nowadays most people don’t really know what it is that they’re eating. If you follow these recommendations, you will notice just how much better you feel, and you’ll see all the health benefits for yourself and your family. You’ll begin to notice this in your disposition, in your body, and your skin.
LOL: Would you say that the number of people in the U.S. who are participating in this movement is increasing?
IS: I think so. I’m not an extremist, either. Here, in the U.S., we can easily do things to contribute. This is a country in which none of us is hungry. One of the reasons for that, is the fact that they genetically modified foods here to ensure there would always be enough. Now, in this day and age, we can go back to basics, and have more control over what goes in the earth, and the pesticides used, so we can enjoy a diet similar to what people ate centuries ago. This is an ideal place for people to carry on with this movement and spread it. We have a big problem with obesity in this country, and this is one of the reasons we need to get on board. I can’t say the same about other countries, where people don’t have the luxury of making that choice. At that point, you ask yourself, what’s more dangerous, the chemicals used in the food, or starvation?
LOL: Tell us about your book, Isa Vida y Sabor. Fácil, Sano y Sabroso
IS: This book is based on the first season of my cooking show. It was a great experience because all the recipes you find in the book are original, and I dedicated so much time to learn simple ways to cook and eat healthy and delicious meals, keeping in mind the American lifestyle. So, if I ever wanted to release the book in say, Brazil, I would have to modify it to reflect a more Brazilian lifestyle. I wanted to focus the book for people living in the U.S. because for two generations, I’ve noticed home cooking has decreased significantly. More and more moms are working, and people spend less time at home to cook on a consistent basis. Another reason is the obesity problem in this country, and the common belief that healthy food is bland and boring. I wanted to let people know that it is possible to have a delicious meal, in 30 minutes or less, that is healthy. The fundamental aim of my book is to make sure people know flavor should always be a part of your meals. It’s no big secret. This book is loaded with tips on how to make these meals.
LOL: What’s on your agenda for the rest of the year?
IS: This whole year, actually, has been absolutely insane. We have just wrapped the season for my TV show, and we’re going to Brazil to film it in Portuguese, and we also have some events and appearances while we’re there.
LOL: Besides food, what are some of your other passions? What do you do with your free time?
IS: I love playing sports. I also got married about 5 months as well, so I’ve been splitting my time between Miami and Rio [de Janeiro]. I love skiing and snorkeling, and being in touch with nature. I also love traveling.
LOL: Anything else you would like to add?
IS: I hope people are enjoying my work, and like the recipes that they’ll find in the book. Also, that I will always be looking for ways to help people eat better.