Annemarie Colbin Ph. D

Remembering Annemarie, a Pioneering Force of Nature

It is often hard to put into words or encapsulate the impact of a visionary’s life’s work. In the case of Natural Gourmet Institute’s late Founder, Annemarie Colbin Ph.D., it is almost impossible – her body of work is impressive, her life’s journey was exhilarating, and the stories of her positive impact on people are too many to count.

This month, in remembrance of her passing last April, the staff of Natural Gourmet Institute (better known as “NGI” or “The Natty G” by some students and alumni) got together to remember Annemarie. We went through archives, watched old clips, made some of her recipes and re-read her books. We were awestruck all over again. Our founder was a true visionary: inquisitive, intuitive, relentless, progressive and thoughtful. In the late 1970‘s, Annemarie recovered important facts about food that humanity seems to have misplaced - namely that what we eat directly impacts our well-being, our communities and our planet. Here are some amazing contributions she left us with that we continue to teach to this day.

Seven Criteria for Food Selection: Annemarie synthesized the findings of her research into seven guideposts to help people make informed choices about how they eat:  Food should be whole as nature provides it, with all of the edible parts intact. Food should be local and seasonal whenever possible. A plate should be always balanced with protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients, and provide bitter, sweet, salty, sour and savory flavors. Food should be fresh and organic, not heavily processed, and free of artificial ingredients. A meal should honor tradition and incorporate foods indigenous to our individual geography. Lastly, food should be delicious.

Food as Medicine: Annemarie understood that by making good food choices, people could live happy, healthy and productive lives. She made the connection that many modern illnesses are the result of poor eating habits and the proliferation of processed, genetically modified and artificial foods. She also made the connection that refined ingredients, like processed sweeteners and grains, were harmful to health, and tirelessly advocated for reduction of their use. Lastly, Annemarie understood and promoted the idea of the individual. Each of us has a unique experience with food. What works for one person may not work for another and being intuitive and mindful of your unique needs leads to a healthier you.

Spreading the word: Dr. Colbin realized there was a need to teach people about the powerful impacts food has on health. She coined the term “health-supportive” and in 1977, opened a school in her NYC apartment which taught people how to prepare health-supportive meals. 39 years later, NGI has graduated over 2,600 culinary professionals from 45 countries along with teaching thousands of food enthusiasts about the power of food though a filter of science, intuition and theory. Our alumni have gone on to spread the word about the relationship of food and health across the globe. Annemarie’s legacy is now more prominent than ever as NGI is at the epicenter of the better food movement. The school’s curriculum continues to promote primarily plant-based diets, impart invaluable nutritional knowledge, and provide a unique culinary education that is second to none. Our graduates are doing amazing things in the world: Annemarie would be so proud.

This post was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.

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