By Helge Hellberg
It’s been a long time – twelve years – since I graduated from Bauman College in Santa Cruz as a Nutrition Consultant. I signed up for the program knowing full well that I was not interested in seeing clients and making nutrition consultancy my profession. What I did know then was that without nutritional knowledge, I would likely fail at my new position.
At that time, I was working as Marketing and Communications Director for one of the West Coast organic certifying agencies, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). At CCOF, my job was to connect farmers with consumers. There was indeed a gap – our certified growers knew how to raise their crops but did not know the in-depth nutritional profiles and therapeutic benefits of the fruits and vegetables they were growing. At the same time, consumers were looking for healthier ways to eat, beyond the absence of pesticides.
It was clear that organic had more to share: providing food that is grown locally and in harmony with the land, containing higher nutrient value, and having the best flavor possible. My challenge was to translate these qualities into tangible health benefits for the eater. The solution became clear to me the night I attended the Bauman College Open House in Santa Cruz. What I wasn’t expecting was how much more I would gain from my education.
The coursework was demanding, but not impossible next to my full-time workweek. The curriculum was comprehensive, holistic, and highly applicable. Over the course of my studies, I noticed something else shifting – my understanding of the world. Where else if not through soil, food, flavor, nutrients, weather, the farmer’s hand, and the eater’s kitchen can we see the interconnectedness of all life so explicit and celebrated? In this world of separation, verticals, silo thinking , and radicalism for one belief over another, there is one thing we all have in common: food. We all need to eat, every day. And what we eat defines our well being – as individuals and as a society.
Food and soil are the great connectors. In fact, you can trace most problems that we face as a culture back to the way we eat and grow our food. From environmental issues to obesity, from polluted oceans to degraded tropical forests, from hunger and food injustice to disenfranchised communities and a loss of seed sovereignty, food and food production are both the problem and the solution.
Today I am part of an exciting green media company as well as the co-host of the weekly national radio show An Organic Conversation that educates and inspires people to live healthier, more conscientious lives. I see every day in the vast arena of governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, food companies, holistic health companies, policy experts and even an increasing number of startups that I interview, most professions require some understanding of food production and nutrition.
Whether my education at Bauman College led me here or simply provided the critical foundation to pursue my career, I will never know. But what I do know now is that my studies at Bauman are inextricably linked to what I create in the world and how I understand life. After all, food is life.
I wish you the very best on your path.
Helge Hellberg is the CEO and Founder of the Organic Media Network, a California Public Benefit Corporation that offers multi-media content to make a healthy green lifestyle easy, accessible, and appealing. He is also Co-Host and Executive Producer of An Organic Conversation, an award-winning weekly national radio program on all things green. Bringing together extensive knowledge about ecology, organic food, food systems, and holistic health, Helge is widely respected as a business consultant, inspirational speaker, and writer. He has been featured in dozens of articles and TV segments including CNN, ABC, CBS, and the New York Times.