We were happy to stumble upon forager and activist, Indy Officinalis on Instagram recently and had to learn more about her passion for all things ‘shroom-related.
While we’ve spoken with many farmers and food activists over the years, we find Indy’s take on serving the homeless and food insecure with vine-ready produce incredibly interesting…
Name: Indy Officinalis
Location: Los Angeles, CA
My passion: Educating and empowering the houseless and local BIPOC community of Los Angeles to grow their own food.
How did you get into farming and foraging? When I first learned about holistic health as a teenager, I was excited to begin a more intentional relationship with food. I took a trip to my local health food store to buy all of this natural and organic produce, but I discovered that organic produce was incredibly unaffordable for me, and left the store with only a few packets of seeds; which is what I could afford. I also left with a determination to turn my $4 purchase into a big basket of vibrant vegetables.
After growing my first plants in small pots at home, I began volunteering on farms across the United States, learning about sustainable agriculture, becoming certified in Permaculture Practices, and studying herbal medicine.
So many of us are ‘hooked’ on a food system that disconnects us from our food’s origins. Can you relate? I think our society is really aimed toward accommodating the overworked citizen and, as a result, fast food or convenience food products are packaged and distributed in a way that allows us to get back to our lives quickly, without taking much time to treat meals as a ritual.
It’s also a challenge for the unhoused population that I work with where there is little access to refrigeration or food storage, so they tend to rely on foods with a longer shelf life. This is why gardening has been so influential in my community. By growing produce that can be eaten right off the vine (like cherry tomatoes or cucumbers) that have a high nutritional value and actually taste like a comforting and culturally relevant snack, we can actively combat our broken food system.
What do you think is important – and practical – for more of us to do on this matter? Creating space in our daily routines to treat our food as sacred, to honor its source and appreciate its journey to our plate is one of the simplest actions we can take. If we can all try to get closer to our food source by one degree, then we can begin the process of healing the land and our communities.
+ If you currently shop at a grocery store, I recommend trying to buy produce from a farmers market once a week to support local food chains.
+ If you currently eat fast food for one meal, try food prepping so you can have an easy-to-grab pre made meal or snack during the week.
It’s important to start with small steps and be patient with yourself. At the end of the day, whatever your meal might be or its source, try to honor the farm workers and laborers who contribute to your sustenance.
reacquainting ourselves with the source of our food helps us reconnect with nature overall. Why is that so key? Even though the phrase “you are what you eat” has been used to support diet culture, I think there is some truth in the intention of those words. I like to reappropriate this adage to mean that we are the culmination of the strength of our community—the resilience of our farmers, the health of our soil, the abundance (or lack) of our water sources, and the impact of our natural environment.
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When we eat foods that are local and in season we are more in harmony with our surroundings. It’s similar to the difference between wearing a hat that your mother knitted versus a store bought one, the difference is more emotional.
Let’s talk about ‘shrooms! they are having a big moment in wellness. Why are you so passionate about? I’ve always loved the ephemeral nature of mushrooms. When I was in herbalism school, we studied vegetative plants and flowers, but I found mushrooms to be a bit more elusive. Mushrooms allow us to read the environment and learn about the ecology of soil and trees just by the existence of a single species of mushroom.
In wellness, mushrooms are fascinating because there are so many ways they positively impact our lives — and we are still learning more. I especially love how versatile mushrooms are, it makes them a lot easier to incorporate them into meals.
Any favorite ‘shroom products or Recipes? I love the Origins Mega Mushroom Treatment Lotion and Soothing Hydra-Mist. I use them both every day. They’re both made with one of my favorite mushrooms, reishi.
Recipe wise, I love making vegan fondue, with fresh vegetables from the garden and mushrooms from the forest for dipping. I blend carrots and squash from my garden to create a tasty vegan cheese.
Clean eating and clean beauty are so connected. What are a few of your favorite clean beauty habits?Having a very steady, skincare ritual and routine has helped me connect with my with body. It’s a moment I can show myself some self-love.I follow the same thing daily as it has the best effect on my skin.
I always drink a cup of lemon water when I wake up, and then wash my face with Origins Perfect World Antioxidant Cleanser with White Tea followed by Mega Mushroom Treatment Lotion and a moisturizer. Once or twice a week I use the Modern Friction Face Wash to exfoliate my skin. If I’m in a rush to get to the garden, I love the Mega Mushroom Micellar Cleanser since its no-rinse.
I also love hot yoga! It’s a great way to nourish yourself.
Why do you think foraging draws so many poets and artists? Many people consider the act of foraging itself to be an art. I think that being able to go outside with a task that is fluid and where the journey is the greatest part of the adventure, is what feels reminiscent to other art media.
Favorite foraged meal lately? I love sautéed chanterelles with black pepper and smoked sea salt.