Tag Archives: health

A chat with Cassy Joy Garcia, the force behind Fed and Fit

Cassy Joy Garcia is a truly inspirational entrepreneur. 

Talking with her recently, Cassy’s exuberance and passion for Fed and Fit —the healthy eating and mindset project she founded — and more importantly, life in general, was apparent within moments of starting our discussion.

Cassy has been blogging about living a happy, healthy life since 2011. In her early twenties, the Texas A&M University graduate dealt with consistent joint pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Figuring that a change in her diet, and the type of foods she was eating, might make a difference, she not only started learning about nutrition but began writing about her experiences as well. 

Shifting to a grain-free, dairy-free, artificial ingredient-free lifestyle, what she describes as “Paleo before I knew that Paleo was a thing,” Cassy felt better, lost weight, and had more energy. She started writing about her experiences to share what she had learned with family and friends. That has evolved into Fed and Fit, a company built around Cassy’s nutrition and lifestyle advice, recipes, a book, podcasts, and a massive community of like-minded souls.

I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy our conversation (which happened in the last weeks of Cassy’s pregnancy) and I can only hope that the joy she has for Fed and Fit, and helping others comes through in our talk. 

ButcherBox: Cassy, great to chat. Can you tell our readers about how Fed and Fit came to be?

Cassy Joy Garcia: I’m a  certified nutrition consultant, but I started my blog before that happened. About eight or nine years ago. I started to try some sort of a Paleo-type diet. I had dieted for years before that with no real success and then started a “real-foods-type” of a protocol. This is kind of before Paleo is the thing it is today, so that’s not what I called it.I just thought that it made a lot of sense nutrition science-wise as far as being anti-inflammatory, and it worked.

After about nine months I wanted to figure out how to turn it from a diet into a real-life solution because I had felt so great for the first time in my life.

Prior to this breakthrough, in my early twenties, I had some joint pain that was pretty debilitating and was always kind of sleepy. But you know, when you live with these sort of chronic conditions you don’t realize that they’re optional. So when those started to clear up is when I really realized that I wanted to keep eating that way, so I started to get creative in the kitchen and came up with different recipes instead of just eating grilled chicken and steamed broccoli every night.

I guess a major milestone came about nine months later when I really realized how far I had come and after eating mostly real foods, eliminating grains, eliminating artificial sweeteners, eliminating all the unhealthy fats, and also incorporating a mixed fitness program that had a lot of strength training in it. I had gone down a grand total of five dress sizes, from about a 10-12 to about a 2-4, but I hadn’t lost really a lot of weight because I built a lot of muscle over that time. My joint pain was gone and I had more energy than ever; I was sleeping better, too. All that wonderful stuff! And I had friends and family who were asking me what I was doing, and what I was eating, and so, the easiest way for me to share that was on a website.

So I started a website and it just blossomed from there. I had folks who started to find the website and ask really great questions as time went on, and so, in order to answer their great questions, I went back to school to get better answers. That’s when I became a nutritional consultant through Bowman College.

From that point, I could work with folks one-on-one. When my docket of clients was full —you know my dance card was essentially too full to take on any more clients — I turned that into an online program, that I called the Fed and Fit project.

BB: Which led to a book, right?

CJG: Eventually, I took the program and combined with about almost 200 new recipes which turned into my first book. Published through Victory Belt, Fed & Fit came out in the fall of 2016. Its got a copy of the program in there, of course.

Things with Fed and Fit just kept growing. The online program is a bit more robust now. Also, I got involved in not just food, but in a larger education piece.

It’s not just about giving somebody a really great casserole recipe, it’s about educating them on why these ingredients are important and why it can really make a big difference to cook from home more often than not.

Now I operate from the standpoint that knowledge is power. I think that when we know better we do better, not only in relation world around us and how to make an impact on folks weight loss goals — because that’s usually what draws people in first — but also in terms of the impact we can have on just the health of the of the earth overall and our pocketbooks long-term when it comes to medical costs. There’s also the impacts we’re having long-term on the health of our family and our loved ones, so I’ve gotten into some more lifestyle coaching with Fed and Fit.

Now we talk about safer skincare ingredients and the sourcing of that. We dive into that a bit more in the podcast.  It’s just kind of taken off. We’ve been able to build a very nice small team of nutrition consultants and therapy practitioners at Fed and Fit, and we’re just working to bring good content out.

BB: What was the experience of writing the book like? Was that something you’d thought you’d do for a long time?

CJG: You know it was definitely a goal of mine. I feel like I’m an educator at heart, and I had a lot of things that I wanted to teach.

A book really just made a lot of sense. It was a really good and concise place to write my ideas in one spot. Writing a book definitely became a goal of mine when I realized professionally that Fed and Fit was my path. 

What I learned from the process was that it is best not to rush into it. I really took my time with that book, and I probably could have published a book years before, but I decided to wait until I really felt like I was answering a need. 

Also, writing a book is a lot of work and takes a lot of patience. But then again, there’s no substitute for really hard work and doing the research and taking your time. Additionally, it was important to make sure I was asking my audience for their thoughts throughout the process. Ask what would serve them well and what kind of information they were looking for.


BB: What has been surprising, looking back, on building a business around the blog posts, the book, the podcasts, and more?

CJG: I think one of the things that I like to tell folks who think that they want to become a full-time blogger is that there are no shortcuts. I think that especially when it comes to starting a program and writing a book and really figuring out how to serve people, you have to be out there. You have to listen to what questions are being asked, and there’s no shortcut for that.

There’s no shortcut for listening to questions that your readers are asking and doing the research, trying to bring them better content, and then, sometimes, going back to the drawing board. Also, when you write constantly, you are in an always in edit/draft/publish mode. I think that that’s really important to understand, that and knowing that you can’t just come out with a program, take an Instagram class, and in turn a blog into a business overnight.

You have to really be serving people and figure out what it is that they’re looking for.

BB: What’s next for you and Fed and Fit?

CJG: That’s a good question. You know, we’re chatting in January, so we have all these new folks enrolled in the Fed and Fit project in January. They’re just some of the most excited and engaged people, and so it’s a lot of fun to work with folks who understand that the point of the project is not to just be another diet.

It’s great to constantly be learning what works for your body and working with people to have those “A-ha” moments when they realize they don’t have to be shackled to a dieting program the rest of their lives. It is really rewarding. 

I also really love the lifestyle piece. I’m kind of moving my blog content in a direction that is not just some recipes and some nutrition science facts but more towards how to make good decisions in our everyday life. I like talking more about the products we’re using in our homes to clean, the products we’re using on our bodies, and how we’re making those decisions. We like to present that information in a way that it allows folks to make those decisions for themselves. It’s a really fun riddle to solve.

I’ve always loved getting into the lifestyle stuff in the podcast because that just jives really well with my personality.

BB: How has your pregnancy impacted some of the content and work you are doing with Fed and Fit?

CJG: On a personal note, the pregnancy definitely brings to mind that I’m not just eating these nutrients for me but that I’m eating them for the two of us. So the priority has been on, for example, pastured beef and making sure I’m getting in those organ meats. So that perspective has definitely shifted and solidified in a sense. Even though it’s always been a priority.

I definitely think that Fed and Fit is also going to continue to grow as our family grows in terms of content. It’s a balancing act between the decisions we’re making in the home, and then what we publish on the blog. It has been a pretty fun adventure, but yeah, we will have more baby and family columns coming out in the future.

BB: That’s fantastic, good luck. Shifting a bit, when and how did first learn about grass-fed beef?

CJG: Oh, man, it was so long ago. I really don’t remember where I first learned about it.

I try to tell folks considering where to invest their grocery dollars is that one of the best investments you can make on your grocery bill is in really high-quality proteins and high-quality fats. If you’re looking for a place to really splurge that it would be there because of the benefits of pastured proteins — truly grass-fed and grass-finished proteins.

It can have such a tremendous positive impact on our health when you think about the fats and the absence of hormones and antibiotics that conventional cattle and other livestock are fed. I really try to prioritize those healthy proteins above all.

BB: What differences do you notice between grass-fed v. grain-fed meat?

CJG: I think that as with any industry, someone is going to muddy the waters with marketing, so it’s on us as consumers have to be more and more diligent about making sure we’re getting exactly what we want. When we go to the grocery store, and we pick up something that says grass-fed beef, and it’s cheaper than the other grass-fed beef sitting next to it, you have to realize that there’s a chance that it’s not actually grass-fed, grass-finished. 

I think it is important for consumers to also be really vigilant about knowing and doing research on the companies that you are sourcing your products from.

I love ButcherBox because I trust the sourcing process that you guys go through. And I trust you to recommend the best to my readers.

We need to make sure that we’re going with companies that are going the extra mile for us. So while it’s okay to get some of those proteins from the grocery store, it’s better to go through a real-life cow share with somebody or a rancher that you know and trust or a company, like ButcherBox that has gone the extra mile to source those proteins.

BB: What else should we look for from Fed and Fit in 2018?

CJG: So we’ve got some big things coming out this year.

Number one will be a new podcast kind of unrelated to Fed and Fit. We’re going to call it “The Joy Report,” and we’re just going to share what it seems like people are really hungry for: Positivity and good news. We’re gonna share really fun stories that we get from around the world, so, we’ll probably have that coming out sometime this spring.

I am also working on some sort of a casserole business. We want to make it so that folks will be able to actually order a casserole and have it delivered to them.

Lastly, there may be the potential for another book in the works.

BB: Wow, that’s a lot! Cassy, it has been great meeting you and hearing about Fed and Fit. Most importantly, good luck with the soon-to-arrive baby! 

CJG: Thank you!

BB: To learn more about Fed and Fit, check out Cassy’s website. Also, you should definitely check out the podcast and the Fed & Fit book.


The Knowing Diet: What the French, the Japanese, and The Happy Body practitioners have in common

This is a guest post from ButcherBox influencers Aniela and Jerzy Gregorek, developers of The Happy Body. Aniela and Jerzy came to the U.S. from Poland in 1986 as political refugees during the Solidarity Movement. As a professional athlete, Aniela has won five World Weightlifting Championships and established six world records. Jerzy has won four World Weightlifting Championships and established one world record. They have also been professional coaches and personal trainers since coming to this country. In a recent TED talk, Tim Ferriss described Jerzy like this: “Of the 10,000-plus people I’ve met in my life, I would put him in the top 10, in terms of success and happiness.”

Have certain cultures developed the best way of eating? As the founders of The Happy Body Program, we recognize food as one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle, and we have given a great deal of thought regarding how to make getting nutrition easy. But there are other considerations, and if we compare cultures that are known for refined eating practices, we can take the best from each.

The French tend to enjoy everything—good wine, chocolate, baguettes, pastries, butter, cheese, rich sauces, and delicacies. The magic comes from controlling the portion while also eating slowly and savoring every bite. This is why so many French people stay slim but don’t feel deprived; they practice moderation and sensuality.

The Japanese have another way of eating, which involves quality and careful preparation and presentation. Eschewing sweets, the Japanese diet focuses on lots of fish and seafood, seaweeds, fresh and pickled vegetables, and rice. Artfully presented fruit is usually the desert. The Japanese culture also has the concept of “hara hachi bu,” which means stopping when you’re just under-full, just around 80%. In this way, they’re aware of not just what they’re eating but how they’re eating, embracing beauty and mindfulness.

In the Happy Body Program, we prefer fresh ingredients as opposed to processed products and strategic food preparation in order to simplify cooking as opposed to involved, demanding recipes. By using seasonal ingredients and combining them in creative ways, we have a sense of freedom in how we eat, even though we stick mainly to healthful foods and avoid empty calories.

Image via The Happy Body
Image via The Happy Body

Happy Body practitioners also pay attention to where food comes from and how it was produced or created. Caring about how to maintain a healthy environment and sustain humane, organic practices that nurture animals or fruit and vegetables for the table is a priority.

For us, the most important word for food is knowing — knowing exactly how much to eat to lose, maintain or gain weight. Also important is where it comes from, how to prepare it simply and beautifully, and how to consume in a healthy way, for both ourselves and the planet. “What You Eat You Become” and “Food is Medicine” are our mottos. The better the quality of the food we eat, the healthier our bodies become, and so does our life. We can enjoy chocolate, potatoes, steak, and vodka as well as vegetables and fruits without obsessing or needing to be French or Japanese, always knowing how much is enough.

For more from Aniela and Jerzy, check out The Happy Body.

Grunge watercolour painting of cows grazing in a field with rura

The stories we tell: Foundational motivations can evolve with a company

A little more than two years ago, we started ButcherBox in the offices of a friend’s Cambridge creative agency. We have grown exponentially since then — we now have more than 25 employees in Harvard Square and elsewhere across the country. Proudly, we still haven’t had to take any money from venture capitalists or other institutional investors.

From the beginning, ButcherBox has been a project of passion. I will get into that more a bit below, but basically, two forces — family and health — led the groundwork for what has become the company that our amazingly loyal customers have grown to know and love.

Initially, it was a health problem my wife developed that drove me to learn more about the potential benefits of more humanely-raised meats — grass-fed beef, heritage-breed pork, free-range chicken. A few years back, she developed a thyroid issue. One of the suggestions to improve her health was to look into adding cleaner foods to our diets. Over and over again, we kept discovering grass-fed beef popping up on lists of foods it was suggested we add to our diets. We did more research on the topic and soon started eating grass-fed beef.

The other major influence that led to ButcherBox’s founding was the birth of my children. Knowing we wanted them to eat healthier from the start, I set out to find ways get quality, humanely-raised meat in a way that was affordable for a family. This led to my first involvement in a cow share and eventually to the realization that a lot of people wanted grass-fed beef and similar meats but didn’t have access to them.

These experiences are why ButcherBox exists today.

To be clear, the reasons my co-founder, Mike Filbey, and I founded ButcherBox haven’t changed. This fundamental part of our story remains solid. It is, after all, our foundation.

However, as we have grown, I have been thinking more deeply about the story that is ButcherBox, and, strangely, I have discovered that it was quite inevitable — more than I had realized — that I’d spearhead an endeavor promoting healthy, humanely-raised meat.

First, and I don’t know how better to explain this, but I have been surrounded by cattle — smiling, grazing in fields, peaceful — my entire life.

On a recent visit to my mother’s house, something struck me that I had never thought about before. You see, my mother’s home is — and has been for as far back as I can remember — decorated, floor to ceiling, with cows. There are cows on kitchen decorations, pictures of cows, and more.

I believe our home has been this way since my mother immigrated —  with my three siblings and me — from Uraguay to the United States when I was a mere six-months-old. Uruguay is one of the grass-fed beef capitals of the world, and, quite possibly, this is the inspiration for my mother’s decorative leanings. My father still lives in Uruguay, and that country has always called to me.

In some way, this has subconsciously impacted a lot of my choices. Believe it or not, I have a large painting of a cow displayed in my bedroom. It has been there since well before ButcherBox was a thing.

While the overall influence of cow-laden aesthetical decisions of my family may not be as personal as the two reasons mentioned above, I can’t deny that being surrounded by calming cattle art didn’t somehow serve as a bias towards being an advocate for more humane cattle industry practices.

This idea that there is a better way, for consumers and cattle, is also something that I have been thinking about for a lot longer than I realized.

Trying to find healthier meats for my wife and children was, without a doubt, the main catalyst for the birth of ButcherBox. But it has also been part of my business ethos, whether I realized it or not, that there is something fundamentally incorrect with how specific industries treat their products, and then how this impacts consumers relationship with those products and industries. This too is part of the founding story of ButcherBox.

Recently, I was looking over a slide deck from when I pitched my former company, CustomMade, to investors. One of the slides quickly caught my eye. I had completely forgotten about the slide, but it featured two cows. One was a cow on a feedlot; the other was a cow grazing in an open field.

We had used this slide as a way to explain what we thought about the marketplace for creatives and craftspeople. For CustomMade, we wanted to highlight how consumers in the digital age wanted to know the story behind what they were purchasing. This shift was occurring in the food industry well before ButcherBox’s founding, and we highlighted the parallels to the craft industry for CustomMade.

As we saw it, more consumers better understood that the state of feedlots was a miserable existence for the products they were purchasing, when it comes down to it, for the pleasurable experience of eating a steak. The happier cattle on the range was more in line with the overall story that makes consumers feel better about the meat they are buying.

Rediscovering the slide again made me realize how the concept product storytelling — specifically, giving customers the products that align with their beliefs — has been a priority in my business life for a long time. It took the old pitch deck to help me make the connection.

Why do I tell these stories?

Businesses — the ones that people can get passionate about — aren’t borne out of thin air. The stories of how they came into existence tell a lot about the people that built them and where they are going.

For ButcherBox, the cornerstones of our mission are health and family. This permeates all we do, from how we hire to how we treat our customers. But there are other key values built into the foundation of the company. One is making others happy, bringing joy in some way. I was reminded of this by returning to my mother’s cow-filled home. The other is that we are on a mission to improve the world. The slide deck from CustomMade brought home this part of our story.

As we grow,  more and more people will contribute to the company and they too will add their own positive influences to the ButcherBox story. That’s the only way to build something that can truly resonate.


Seeking a solution to food deserts and poor nutrition

While living in a secluded section of Vermont for a few years in college, I spent a frequent amount of time in two areas in the state, the Green Mountains and the Valley of Vermont, that are at least a 30 minutes journey — or much more depending on road conditions and weather — to the nearest grocery store. To get the food needed for a week or more, residents in this part of the state would have to plan trips in order to get the staples we take for granted in metropolitan areas.

The only reprieve from this would be the small local markets that some of the mountain hamlets might have — if they were lucky. The problem with doing all your shopping through the local provisions purveyor is that these type of small shops don’t often carry the freshest, healthiest foods.

Until recently, I didn’t know there was a name for this phenomenon — “food desert” —which is recognized by organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, a food desert is an area of the country where it is difficult to get fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods.

Food deserts are usually found in the more geographically isolated and impoverished regions of the country, and their existence has to do with the problems I saw in small Vermont mountain towns: a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. However, urban areas too can be considered food deserts if they have a higher prevalence of junk food-filled convenience stores versus places to buy fresh produce.

What I observed in Vermont isn’t an ideal example of a food desert, as this problem tends to be more significant in more rural and poor areas that get stuck in a cycle of developing unhealthy eating habits due to the lack of healthier and affordable options.

As the USDA explains, it is a “big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic.”

There is even a USDA-developed map that identifies the food deserts across the U.S.




Part of the ButcherBox mission is making sure everyone has access to healthier foods, at prices that are more palatable to a wide swath of Americans. A ButcherBox monthly subscription, which averages out to $6 per meal, is on par with what it would cost for a pound of conventional ground beef in most areas of the country.

This is something co-founders Mike Filbey and Mike Salguero — and the entire team —cares deeply about. That’s why ButcherBox believes that access to healthier meat, by shipping directly to customers, is important. ButcherBox has the potential to improve the lives of those unfortunate enough to live in a food desert, whether that is in the suburb of some major metropolitan area, out in the middle of nowhere, or even in those isolated areas of Vermont.


Maria Emmerich – Guiding light of the ketogenic lifestyle

Maria Emmerich is one of the people in the wellness and nutrition space whose passion for helping others achieve healthy lives we greatly admire here at ButcherBox.

Emmerich is the best-selling author of The Ketogenic Cookbook, and eight other books on health and wellness including Keto-Adapted and the soon-to-be-published Keto Restaurant Favorites. She also runs the popular blog Maria Mind Body Health, which features unique recipes that use alternative ingredients and information on how eating better can improve one’s health in a wide array of unexpected ways.

We interviewed Maria to find out more about her, ketogenic nutrition, and how grass-fed meat is a vital part of a healthy diet.

ButcherBox: What does it mean to live a ketogenic lifestyle?

Maria Emmerich: Almost every cell in our bodies can run on two fuels, glucose or fat (free fatty acids or ketones). Living a ketogenic lifestyle means you restrict carbs enough (less than 20 grams or so a day) so that you use fat as your primary fuel for your body.

BB: When did you realize the importance of being selective about the foods you consume? And how did you discover a ketogenic diet?

Maria: I have always tried to “eat the right food” since I was in high school. Back then, I followed the low-fat, whole grains thinking and it didn’t work. I got into running marathons, but I was overweight and suffered from IBS, acid reflux, and more. I knew there had to be some way to avoid these issues, so I spent the ten years researching the ketogenic lifestyle and writing books about it. Changing my diet ended my IBS and acid reflux. I also shed the extra pounds, and now I feel amazing.

BB: What has been most surprising, looking back, about the response to your books and blog posts?

Maria: I am always amazed at the support from our followers. I think the amount of time and heart that we put into helping people makes people want to support us and creates an amazing group of people all helping each other get healthy!

BB: What is your take on grass-fed meats?

Maria: In addition to a ketogenic lifestyle we also emphasize quality whole foods and chemical-free ingredients. It is important to have grass-fed meats as part of your diet because it gives you much more nutrient-dense protein without antibiotics or other chemicals in your food.

BB: What were some of the realizations that made you feel that way about grass-fed?

Maria: There are so many things wrong with cattle feedlots. The over-use of antibiotics is one, but there are also problems with cattle being fed corn because it is often GMO corn that likely contains glyphosate which can then get into the animal. I believe that some of the leaky gut that is so common today is due to these small amounts of glyphosate getting into the food supply.

BB: What differences have you noticed between eating grass-fed meat versus grain-fed?

Maria: I just love the flavor. There is nothing like a grass-fed hamburger full of rich beef flavor.

BB: What is your take on the meat industry as a whole?

Maria: Animal proteins are one of the most nutritious foods we can eat. For some reason, this is lost in the popular understanding of food. In our soon-to-be-released book Keto Restaurant Favorites, we outline how animal proteins are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. When you think of superfoods, everyone thinks of fruits and veggies. But animal proteins, especially offal (organ meats), are the real superfoods. This chart from Keto Restaurant Favorites shows the comparisons: Fullscreen capture 652017 123307 PM.bmp BB: What are your views about the dieting space in general?

Maria: There is a ton of bad information out there. Some of the food studies that exist are very flawed, and quite a few studies are actually the result of corruption. Take, for example, the focus on saturated fats and their connections to heart disease. That idea arose in large part due to studies funded by the sugar industry to take the focus off of sugar according to a recent story by the New York Times.

BB: How important is it to you to maintain authenticity while making food recommendations to others?

Maria: That is of absolute importance to us. I believe it is why we have such a strong following. People know they can trust us. We get tons of offers to promote products that contain ingredients or methods that don’t meet our standards. We could make a lot of money off of these products, but it would compromise what we stand for. Our followers know that if we approve of a food or product that we trust it enough to feed it to our sons.

BB: What has been most surprising, looking back, about the response to your books and blog posts?

Maria: I am always amazed at the support from our followers. I think the amount of time and heart that we put into helping people makes people want to support us and creates an amazing group of people all helping each other get healthy!

BB: Thank you, Maria. We here at ButcherBox are looking forward to the release of Keto Restaurant Favorites!