ARTIST INTERVIEW: Jocelyn Ramirez of Todo Verde
Company: Todo Verde
Artist: Jocelyn Ramirez
Todo Verde founder Jocelyn Ramirez is a vegan chef, college professor, yoga instructor, and advocate for healthy food access in her community. After Jocelyn’s father was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, she created a plant-based superfood smoothie diet that made him dramatically stronger and helped with a quick recovery. In this process, she noticed the disproportion of healthy food in the L.A. area after years of driving across town in search of healthier options for her family.
This inspired Jocelyn to create a health food business for the Eastside community. She founded Todo Verde in 2015 with a mission to create plant-based dishes inspired by her Mexican and South American roots. She left her career in higher education to pursue a new path in foodways related to culture and tradition. She has referenced traditional recipes passed down for generations within her family and has explored new techniques using ingredients native to L.A.
Jocelyn has partnered with local non-profit organizations to offer workshops ranging from healthy food demonstrations to social media strategies, and dialogues in relation to critical analysis of the industrial food system and traditional foodways. She now sits on the Leadership Board for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
You can find Todo Verde at the Connection at the Spring Echo Park Craft Fair.
Tell us about your current work and how that work has evolved since you first started your business?
Todo Verde started almost four years ago as a small pop-up vendor at local farmers markets throughout Los Angeles. We had a smaller menu of superfood smoothies and agua fresca that we made on site using the farmers seasonal produce. Since then, we integrated a full plant-based catering menu and now serve savory dishes at events throughout the city. We are planning to open our first brick and mortar location early 2020.
What techniques do you use to produce your food? What is the history behind those techniques, and does that inform how you use them?
We focus on ancestral recipes and traditional dishes that have been passed down through my family for generations. These dishes include mole, ceviche, pipian, and agua fresca, and we create unique and contemporary plant-based versions of these nostalgic meals. My grandmother always handmade tortillas for the family, and this is how we make tortillas for our tacos using organic non-gmo blue corn.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come in to play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
Todo Verde really focuses on maintaining a model that sustains and nourishes our bodies and the earth. We have been sourcing organically grown ingredients from local farmers for our agua fresca and smoothies since day one. Our team also sources from a cooperative produce purchasing program, COMPRA Foods, which allows small corner and liquor stores in low income communities of color to collectively purchase healthy produce in bulk so our neighborhoods have more access to good food.
We know that a plant-based lifestyle can dramatically shift carbon footprints and dependency on animal agriculture. It lessens our impact on the planet and is also a factor in diminishing preventable health issues that communities of color face. As we continue to learn about the health benefits of nutrient dense food and healthy ecosystems, we offer knowledge on healthy living with the community through workshops, dialogues, food demonstrations, and speaking engagements in relation to critical analysis of the industrial food system and traditional foodways.
What impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
Our team is committed to advancing food equity in our neighborhoods. We are working to create lifestyle shifts in healthy eating and self care through awareness and access to naturally good food.
We are working on our first brick and mortar space with a goal to open the space as a health and wellness hub. Community members will be able to use this space to host food demonstration and workshops centered in wellness.