In most cases, the pharmaceutical and Biotech industries are worlds apart from the approach and lifestyle of natural living and holistic health.
But for Jennifer Maynard, who grew up on a homestead in Alaska and worked 20 years in the pharmaceutical and Biotech arena, the transition back to serving people through natural and holistic methods, starting from the ground up with healthy food and soil, was much quicker than can usually be expected.
Like most people who experience an “awakening” that leads them back to a more natural way of living and eating, Maynard’s career changes were brought on by experiences with loved ones.
“I lost my uncle to AIDS,” she said in a recent phone interview with AltHealthWorks.com.
“That was why I got into pharma in the first place – to try to help come up with effective treatments and cures for serious illnesses. After 20 years of being in that industry, another awakening came to me during my father-in-law’s battle with diabetes.
Maynard believes that our health priorities need fixing, which is part of why she founded a meal delivery service, Nutrition for Longevity, based on a one-two punch of key principles for human and environmental health: organic, regenerative farming that heals and restores the land, and a mostly plant-based menu based on recipes from cultures where people live the longest.
“I do believe that modern medicine is needed in some cases and still plays an important part for areas that simply eating and living healthy can’t solve, but in the case of my father-in-law, it really hit home that as a society we focus too much on pills as solutions,” Maynard said.
“Instead of focusing on pharma for 80 percent of health-related solutions, I believe it should be the other way around. We should be focused on food and lifestyle 80% of the time and reduce the focus on pills to 20 percent. ”
Maynard has worked in hematology, oncology, and several other disciplines of the mainstream allopathic healthcare system in the pharmaceutical industry, but her experience with her father-in-law led her to connect the dots and realize that the biggest health problems currently faced originate from diet and lifestyle.
“I couldn’t ignore the fact that we were losing the battle in chronic illness; 80 percent of chronic illness can be prevented or reversed with lifestyle changes readily at our fingertips,” she said.
“I wanted to move to a new line of work that focuses on the 80%.”
Maynard goes back to her roots, with a focus on “food as medicine”
After leaving the pharma world behind, Maynard went to back to her roots: her homestead in Alaska, where she grew her own food just like the good old days.
Her decision to move back eventually sparked what became a revolutionary business idea in the world of healthy meal delivery services, leading to her founding of the company Nutrition for Longevity, which utilizes something especially rare: American-based organic and regenerative farm produce to create meals and recipes inspired by the world’s longest living people.
“I thought, why not take my knowledge, my business knowledge and my passion for living a clean and healthy lifestyle, and really bring that to the masses?” Maynard said about her thought process leading up to the founding of the company and subsequent organic farms that supply her produce.
“I truly believe that food is medicine and that’s where I wanted to focus my mission on, to help people to make the right choices and have the right choices.”
Access to healthy and nourishing organically produced food grown in high quality soil is an uncommon and precious quantity in the United States.
Despite all of the country’s wealth and the growing organic movement, homegrown organic food is still barely a blip on the radar screen.
While the total number of organic farms in the United States grew by 56% from 2011 to 2016 according to a Pew Research Center poll, the number is still relatively small: there were just a little over 14,000 organic farms in the U.S. as of January 2019, representing less than 1% of the 911 million acres of total farmland worldwide.
Maynard, already proficient in homesteading through her Alaska days, started the Greater Greens Regenerative Farming Operation in New Jersey, which includes a mixture of regenerative farming (a form of organic farming that dramatically improves vital environmental factors including carbon sequestration, water retention, topsoil regeneration and conservation of land) outdoors and aquaponic farming indoors. This style of farming can also help prevent “dead zones” being caused by factory farm runoff.
Once a regenerative farming operation gets going, Maynard says it can produce far more food than conventional systems, a viewpoint in line with the United Nations report ‘Wake Up Before It’s Too Late’ which agreed that small-scale organic farming is the best way to “feed the world,” not large monoculture farms.
The result is a business that could quite possibly be a catalyst for changing the world, and the food system, in due time.
For now, Maynard, 41, is focusing on getting the details right.
“We’re focusing on everything we could to fix the food model, which I think is broke and one of the major stems of the healthcare industry today,” she said.
The focus is on providing meals, along with snacks, that are consistent with principles of the residents’ diets from longevity regions, where people live the longest. Nutritionist, author and Daily Longevity Diet founder Valter Longo consults with Maynard and her team to keep the menu fresh and functional for optimizing human health.
“We wanted to find an outlet, a way to get food to people in the right combination, the right macronutrient levels…So that people could really optimize their health” Maynard said.
Meals are also picked, assembled, and shipped out fresh from Longevity for Nutrition’s farms, and delivered to customers within 48 hours.
The first meal kits began shipping last October, and the company has continued to refine its recipes, and knowledge of human health, since then. Maynard and her staff have toured countries ranging from Japan, Italy, Costa Rica and more to discover what works for the world’s healthiest and longest living people, taking these ideas and making them part of her company.
The company has also begun launching new products based on healthy diets from around the world, including antioxidant rich organic coffee and imported Italian olive oil, the latter of which makes up a foundational food of many centenarians’ diets.
While overseas (Maynard spent stretches of time living in Germany and Switzerland), Maynard noticed she felt much better eating fresher, higher quality food, adding to her motivation to bring the same to those in her home country. Nutrition for Longevity’s menu includes many of her favorite recipes, offering vegan, vegetarian, diabetic-friendly and pescatarian options with wild caught fish added to colorful palettes of organic vegetables, fruits, gluten-free grains and other staples.
“Colorful vegetables are non-existent in our diet,” Maynard said. “Many of the people in the longevity regions include a lot of blue and purple in their diets. Both have been studied for longevity benefits that color is the least common in the American diet.”
Most of these cultures eat generous portions of colorful vegetables, blended masterfully into traditional dishes that provide top quality nourishment and taste, which Nutrition for Longevity strives to create through its meal kits.
“In the United States, only 1 in 10 people get the needed amount of fruits and vegetables, and that’s not shifting, at all,” Maynard, whose favorite dishes from her company are the Nicoyan (a region of Costa Rica known for its centenarians) black bean and squash stew as well as the Okinawan soba noodle salad, said.
As Nutrition for Longevity continues to grow, her farming operations are expected to grow with it, increasing the amount of regenerative agriculture based farms stateside and showcasing a more efficient, natural way of growing food that could be the key to healing both soils and people.
“We’ve expanded our models region for region, into Texas and California,” she said. “In New Jersey we call it a micro farm, between 40 to 100 acres will always be our target size of the farm, it’s a working model we can replicate.”
While changing the land from monocultures, GMOs and “conventional” pesticide laced farming to regenerative and organic seems like an overwhelming task, Maynard believes the time is now.
Many longtime, multi-generational farmers are in debt and large corporations are the ones profiting, she said, a system that is sowing seeds of despair and even farmer suicides across the United States. But new companies like Nutrition for Longevity have the potential to create an entirely new system from the ground up.
“More and more people are beginning to understand this is a change we need to make, a lot of people are starting to back us and support us,” she said. “I do believe there’s momentum behind this food-as-medicine movement.
“You can feed the population without damaging the environment, you can have both.”
A message from the author:
Thank you for reading. I have personally tried Nutrition for Longevity’s meal kits and I am a big fan. If you’d like to browse the menu or try a meal kit today, click here.