New England native Angie Gaimari moved to New York City after college to work in the fashion industry, but soon found herself yearning for something more. Without a job or life plan, she left that material world behind and relocated to Boston. There, her passion for lifestyle marketing and local food brought her to Cuisine en Locale, a company that serves gourmet meals made from ingredients grown by small local farms. Gaimari's experience consulting for brands such as J.Crew, The New York Times and Style.com has helped her manage the company's brand strategy, as well as event planning for eco-conscious foodies in the Boston area and beyond.
Here, Angela explains how her work feels meaningful, as she supports both clients and the local food industry. Sometimes, she asserts, the best choice is the one that makes you happy in the moment.
Live The Process: Have you always been passionate about organic food and living a healthy lifestyle?
Angela Gaimari: It was the Union Square Greenmarket that introduced me to eating local many years ago, and it’s been a passion and a lifestyle ever since. The company for which I work, Cuisine en Locale, is all about what’s locally grown because much of what gets classified as “organic” is harvested while underripe and shipped long distances, robbing it of nutritional value and great taste. “USDA Organic” is a label that costs a small fortune to secure, putting it out of budget range for most small farmers who are doing the right thing, directing their limited funds toward quality, non-GMO seeds and healthy feed for their animals. We support farmers we know and love instead of agribusiness conglomerates from faraway lands. This means no strawberries in January, but learning to play up the sweetness of beets when it’s cold outside.
LTP: Was there a specific catalyst for your shift from working in the fashion industry to managing a small food business?
AG: Moving from New York to Boston and meeting my boss, JJ Gonson, was everything for me. I had been working in fashion and totally existing in that world before I uprooted myself without a real plan. I had a nagging urge to make big changes in my life, but had no idea how. The decision to leave New York can be fraught, if you go from high school to college, college to New York: where do you go from there? It turns out there are a million different things you can do, if you’re willing to forge a path that’s uniquely yours. There is freedom that comes from letting go of what you know and what you think people expect you to do and going your own way without fear of failure or regret. Every day I feel grateful that I took the chances that led me to where I am today.
Though the romance of food always intrigued me (heirloom vegetables, secret recipes, elaborate dinners), I never expected to make a living from it. Now, after a couple of years managing a small food business, I understand the realities and rewards, and accept that it’s not some enchanted fairytale, but rather meaningful, challenging and necessary work that comes with its own set of perks. Cuisine en Locale feeds people delicious, healthy food that supports local farmers, and we have fun doing it. That alone makes it all worthwhile for me.
LTP: What is the biggest obstacle to staying on your wellness path, and how do you work to overcome it?
AG: I try not to pressure myself to do the “right” thing all the time. That takes motivation and discipline for me. I ask myself: Do I really want to pull out my juicer or would I rather just go get an iced mocha? Go to Pilates or play Candy Crush? Sometimes, though not all the time, the best answer is the one you feel like doing. I’m less hard on myself than I used to be. Every day is another chance to approach things differently, and the only person you actually have to answer to is yourself.
LTP: What tips would you offer people who aspire to eat organic, nutritious meals, but don’t feel like they have the time required to prepare them?
AG: Cuisine en Locale offers a meal share program called, Once a Week, which consists of a week’s worth of cooked food made from all local ingredients, right down to Maine sunflower oil and sea salt. We deliver to busy people’s doorsteps in the Boston area and hope to bring our model to Brooklyn, Austin and Portland in the near future. Having quality food in your fridge makes it so you’re less likely to make regrettable hunger-induced choices. No matter how you eat, you must accept that it takes time and money to do it right. As a society, cheap fast food has evolved into the norm, causing much misery and misconception about what food really is. Any way you slice it, you have to allot time to shop, prepare, cook and portion your meals, or be willing to pay a fair price for well-prepared, transparently sourced food from personal chefs or restaurants you trust. More people are taking active roles in finding out where their food comes from; the answers aren’t always pleasant and the necessary courses of action aren’t easy. But making a conscious plan and sticking to it allows you to make choices you can feel good about, treating your body and the planet right.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AG: Freedom to create my own schedule and do the things I love: writing, sleeping eight hours, calligraphy, yoga, long drives in the country, see