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From Mountain Dew To Farm Fresh

The last time Jackie Trippeer Batruch auditioned at Ripley-Grier Studios was five years ago, when she danced professionally. Now, instead of twirling and kicking, Batruch brings vegetables to Ripley-Grier for Farmigo, an online farmer's market that joins upstate growers to NYC home cooks.

Batruch became a Farmigo organizer because she wanted to build a healthy food community for performing artists. Tall and graceful, she radiated onstage. But secretly, she had been downing Mountain Dew before ballet class and sneaking cigs. Over time, she and her husband began to feel so unhealthy that they committed to a meat- and alcohol-free diet.

The switch was remarkable for her—it strengthened their bond and led to her becoming a holistic health coach. Now, 40, she recently competed in the Brooklyn Marathon. At her stand at Ripley-Grier, Batruch and YogaCity NYC’s Ann Votaw discussed life with fewer injuries and greater possibility:

Ann Votaw: When did you get into clean food?

Jackie Trippeer Batruch: In December 2010, my husband and I needed to feel better. We were eating whatever. He had gained 80 pounds and had rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. He had a cyst surgically removed from his hand and was told he would have take medication for the rest of his life. We did not want to continue on the path. We decided to try a plant-based diet. Within a short period of time, I felt amazing and clear-headed. That’s when I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach.

AV: How do you work with clients?

JTB: I work with people for three to six months. Each time we meet, we add another layer. In the beginning, I might focus on drinking water. The next time, we might focus on breakfast. Later, we work on fitness or relationships. I could tell clients to eat two ounces of this or that, but then they wouldn’t understand the connection between nutritious food and health. If you tell people about these connections, they think for themselves and become more comfortable planning meals and shopping.

AV: What’s the first thing clients should start eating?

JTB: Green leafy vegetables are still the number one missing thing in people’s diets. They are incredibly nutritious and detoxifying.

AV: What’s the first bad thing to give up?

JTB: Soda! And artificial sweeteners, if I could name two. Our bodies are not made to digest things that are not from nature. Anything otherwise is slowly breaking us down and harming our immune systems.

AV: Should clients give up meat?

JTB: Some of my clients continue to eat meat, but they make better choices. I guarantee that chicken from the grocery story has been through a factory-farm system where animals are sick from birth to death. If you buy from a farmer’s market, you can meet the farmer who raised and loved the animals. I say, eat less meat, and make it the most superior quality possible.

AV: Tell me about Farmigo.

JTB: It's a Brooklyn-based company. I am an organizer at Ripley-Grier and the Lunch Box in Greenpoint, where I live. Customers order online, so farmers know what to harvest. I distribute food to customers at the pickup points. It’s a convenient way for people to buy organic food and support farmers who use the most sustainable methods for the environment. It is also better for the farmer.

AV: Why?

JBT: Customers order online, so the farmer knows what to harvest. If the broccoli rabe looks bad, they may get an email from the farmer suggesting a better choice. Plus the farmers get three times the profit they’re getting from the grocery store because we’ve cut out all the middlemen.

AV: Were you always interested in food?

JTB: No. But after years of fast food, I noticed my clothes fit differently. Women in my family started telling me, “When you get older that is what happens.” I thought, “What a bullshit excuse!”

AV: What has changed since 2010?

JTB: I lost 15 pounds. My husband no longer feels the symptoms of arthritis. He wants to be the first man in his family not to develop diabetes. We also got into biking. Last year we rode our longest ride ever at 160 miles with The Ride To Montauk. He did his first Olympic-length triathlon in July.

AV: Would you say food is part of your relationship?

JTB: Food is everything to us. It brings joy and pleasure. He says I’m the executive chef. I do the planning. He’s the sous chef. We have an insane routine.

AV: Really?

JTB: At 6am, I’m in the kitchen making us smoothies. He takes his to work. I drink mine at home.

AV: What about lunch and dinner?

JTB: He takes his lunch to work. He has a salad, rice, and beans. He gets home around 5:30pm and does some kind of workout. We like to eat at the table before Jeopardy comes on. We cook five nights a week and rarely repeat recipes.

AV: Doesn’t cooking take a lot of time?

JTB: I feel I have more time. We still have an active social life. I think a lot of people think cooking is so time consuming. By the time you decide where to go, order, and close out, you could have made a meal at home.

AV: But health isn’t just about food, is it?

JTB: It’s many things besides what you put in your mouth. Before I went to school, I never felt I was a good listener. Now I have to be as a food coach. It’s a life skill that people need to learn.

AV: Has it brought you close to your husband?

JTB: Yes, but I eat breakfast and lunch by myself. Good food can connect you to others, but it can also connect you to yourself.

For more information about Batruch’s Farmigo pickup points, click here for Ripley-Grier in Midtown, or here for the Lunch Box in Greenpoint.

First-time clients can use the coupon code of Local20.

For information about Batruch's health and wellness coaching, click here.

"A thoroughly good relationship with ourselves results in being still, which doesn't mean we don't run and jump and dance about. It means there's no compulsiveness. We don't overwork, overeat, over smoke, over seduce. In short, we begin to stop causing harm."—Pema Chodron

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