Visit any grocery store—even those that are not Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s—and chances are you’ve seen the natural and organic aisle taking up more real estate than ever before. And it’s not just happening in your neighborhood food stores: Beauty counters have started expanding their natural and organic skin care and makeup selections to cater to the growing demands. Even Hollywood A-listers, like Jessica Alba or Gwyneth Paltrow, have started advocating the organic lifestyle.
For some people, transitioning to organic products is more like a lifestyle upgrade, something to consider when you have an extra dollar to spare for a smaller bag of organic kale—a “nice-to-have” or a stretch goal but never an essential endeavor, especially when the pursuit becomes inconvenient or the budget gets tight. But for Laura Klein, chef, healthy living expert and a passionate advocate in today’s food revolution movement, going organic—and spreading the word about it—is an integral part of her daily life, which led her and her husband to launch Organic Authority, a digital publication that uncovers the truth about America’s food supply and consumer products.
“What I discovered in culinary school shocked me,” Laura explains. “I discovered a food supply that was rich in toxic chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that Americans eat on an everyday basis and don’t even know about. That made me angry. I felt like Big Food, ‘Big Ag’ companies and our government had pulled the wool over our eyes and wasn’t being honest with how our food is being grown, processed and sold. I felt like America needed to know the truth behind their food supply and that’s when and why I launched Organic Authority.”
To tell us more about her transition to clean, healthy living, we sat down with Laura. Here she talked about the lessons she learned along the way, her go-to food and beauty staples, and the best way to start living and eating organically if you’re just starting out or on a budget.
On Eating Clean
Dermstore: How has living organically impacted your life?
Laura: It has changed my life! I’ve lost weight, my energy has increased, my skin is clear and carries a natural glow and my love affair with food has gotten even deeper. It’s helped me appreciate more where my food comes from, who’s making it or raising it, how it changes with the seasons and it’s helped me appreciate local eats more when I travel and seek out the unusual hard-to-find ingredients and dishes that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
What’s the most important thing to consider when it comes to eating clean?
There is so much to eating clean! I stick to simple ingredients and I cook from scratch pretty much every day. I think cooking at home is so important, it forces you to slow down and take time for yourself and helps you appreciate and create a relationship with your food. I also shop a lot at my local farmers markets. When I buy from them I ask for cooking tips or their favorite recipe with the ingredients they sell so I love to experiment with them and test them out!
If we took a look inside your fridge, what staples would we find in there?
I tend to be a creature of habit and have specific dietary needs, like protein. My body needs it because I tend to be hypoglycemic, so pantry and fridge staples are a must! Here are my faves: pasture-raised organic eggs, avocados, almond butter, apples, sprouted whole wheat bread, almond milk, kombucha, kale, butter lettuce, chia seed pudding, farmers market roast chicken (lunch and dinners), lemons (for my morning lemon water!), ghee. Goat cheese (guilty pleasure!).
What are your go-to beverages that aren’t overly processed?
I start my morning with two glasses of lemon water to hydrate me and wake me up! I follow it with an almond milk matcha latte. I love them! Coffee is too strong for me and makes me jittery. The buzz from a matcha latte is smoother and lasts longer. My other go-to daily drink is kombucha. I love GT’s Guava Goddess kombucha. I buy it by the case. I also like coconut water that I use to make a green drink with spirulina, moringa powder, vitamin C and collagen. My green drink helps lift the brain fog and helps me reach my peak performance by midday.
What’s your favorite eco-friendly lunch to pack for work?
I love avocado sandwiches! I add some good avocado mayo, radishes, butter lettuce and if heirloom tomatoes are in season even better. Sometimes I also make a cabbage mason jar salad. I love it because if I don’t eat it all it’s still good the next day.
Where do you do your food shopping?
I do most of my shopping at Whole Foods Market and Amazon. If you shop smart at Whole Foods Market you can walk out of there with the same grocery bill as Trader Joe’s. I can find almost anything I need there with one-stop shopping.
What’s the best ingredient to scan for on the label when shopping for natural foods?
There are so many! I look for simple ingredients that are familiar to me. If I don’t know what an ingredient is or I can’t find out what it is easily, I move on to the next product that has simpler, cleaner ingredients. I stay away from products that are full of preservatives, fake or artificial sweeteners and lots of sugar. It’s not worth it to me to put junk in my body. I respect it too much. It’s taken care of me so I want to take care of it.
On Her Beauty and Skin Care Routine
Why do you think people should consider organic beauty products?
I feel like clean and organic beauty products are really important. I strive for a clean beauty routine but I’m not perfect either (sometimes a girl’s gotta have a product she loves!). Women put skin care and makeup on their bodies every single day of the year and our skin may absorb some of the chemicals. The jury is out on how much our skin really absorbs, but there are too many health issues that can be attributed to environmental factors and/or irritants like foreign chemicals that can set off a host of health issues when exposed to. Those chemicals can also be really irritating to the skin and cause more problems than you started with. So I take the better-safe-than-sorry approach. Truly natural and organic beauty products have come a long way and there are so many out there that are safe and effective for all skin types!
What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever gotten?
It’s the simplest and most affordable trick: drink eight glasses of water a day! Count them. Eight. People laugh when I say this. Doctors laugh. Estheticians laugh. Dermatologists laugh. And there are some who agree with me! When I started doing this in my mid-twenties, I saw fine lines and wrinkles start to disappear and minimize and it also changed my life. My energy increased. I stopped waking up with brain fog in the morning and my mental clarity soared. There have been times when I stopped drinking eight glasses of water because I get lazy or think it doesn’t work. The wrinkles start to come back, my energy drops, the brain fog reappears and I get right back on my horse of drinking eight glasses of water per day.
Tell us about your morning and evening skin care routine.
My morning skin care routine is simple. I drink one to two glasses of lemon water right when I get up. Vitamin C from the lemon juice is great for keeping that collagen going! And I simply rinse my face in the shower. I stopped washing my face in the morning years ago. My gut told me it was too much, too harsh on my skin. I think skin needs to breathe and feel it’s natural oils to keep it soft and supple. Stripping it away with harsh cleansers in the morning and night is too aggressive and stressful on it. I follow with a serum, under-eye cream, face cream and usually with some coconut oil because my skin tends to run dry.
In the evening I wash with a mild cleanser, apply serum, eye cream and moisturizer. I exfoliate several times a week because I think it’s really important and it helps keep that natural glow going by removing that dead layer of skin (which also makes my skin dry).
If we opened your makeup bag, what products would we find in there?
Because my skin tends to run dry, I’m a sucker for RMS Beauty products
. It’s a coconut oil–based brand that’s formulated with raw, food-grade and organic ingredients. My skin eats it up. I use their Raw Coconut Cream
and their Lip2Cheek
and eye products. I also love Naturopathica’s Vitamin K Eye Brightening Serum. I’m not sure if it really does, but I feel like it plumps my eyes and they pop!
What beauty products do you keep in your bag for touchups throughout the day?
I always keep an RMS Lip2Cheek
product to add a little color to my lips and cheeks. And I’m also lip gloss girl and so I always have some sort of lip gloss too. I’ve also been experimenting with a bold red lip so I may have a red matte lipstick by Butter London
and their liquid lipstick
. The bold colors are really fun!
What advice can you give to those who want to live the organic lifestyle but don’t know where to start?
Start small! Start with one piece of food that you can find easily that is organic. Get to know it. Find out who the farmer is, where they are located and what the best peak season is to buy it. Then start experimenting with recipes you love that feature your favorite ingredient and master it! Then think about what you want to buy organic next and take the same approach. Maybe this time take a look at how the conventional version is grown and see where it resides on EWG’s Dirty Dozen
and Clean Fifteen