My Plant Life with Oliver English

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Tell us who you are and what you do.

Hey! My name is Oliver English – I’m a filmmaker, chef, and food advocate. I’m the co-founder and CEO of Common Table Creative, a production & hospitality company specializing in telling stories about the future of sustainable food and fashion. We create short-form films and documentaries! Personally and professionally, I’m on a mission to bring people together and to grow a more just and regenerative world – starting with food.

Tell us about some of your favorite plants. How do you incorporate them into your life?

So many to count! A joyous and difficult question to answer. Overall plants have such a profound and interconnected impact on our bodies and the world around us. My favorites would be the plants that are grown holistically as part of an ecosystem – benefiting it over the long term. Those are generally the plants that are the most healthy for us as well!

When it comes to cooking, I would have to say a few of my favorites include rosemary, thyme, and basil for the herb section. I love dark leafy greens like swiss chard and variations of Kale to add to every dish as a nutrient, dense power-packed addition – even adding a bunch or two of each to a pasta dish to balance it all out. Love simple and super versatile veggies like carrots, cauliflower, and eggplant as well!

I also love the pollinator flowers like sunflowers, nasturtium, and lavender. I especially love perennial plants – meaning plants that keep fruiting year after year, instead of having one growing cycle. These types of plants are significantly better for or soils, ecosystems, and our bodies. So think any tree or bush type crops – avocados, blueberries, and asparagus.

Tell us your philosophy on “wellness” and what it means to you

I’ve really come to appreciate that wellness is about supporting a holistic approach, rather than looking at diet or exercise in a silo, for example.

So holistic wellness is eating as many plants as possible, drinking lots of water, and staying away from booze – though I have been into boozy kombuchas lately! It’s about a daily routine – reading, journaling, and meditation. It is about moving my body every day – sometimes that’s yoga, or surfing or weight training, or sometimes just a good long walk on the beach. It is spending time in nature – hiking or swimming in the ocean or even sitting under a tree. It is about the quality time we spend with our family and friends and loved ones. And in the past year or so I’ve realized that wellness about letting go and doing things that make you feel free and like a little kid again – for me that means cooking, rollerblading, and hitting up the silent beach disco in Venice every week!!

Above all, it’s about a deep humility that every day is different and even when I try to do all of the above – there are still difficult days.  It is so important to take time for ourselves and fill up our cups so that we can continue to bring our best selves to the world, in our relationships and businesses.

Do you have any sustainable practices? If so, please share!

In the past few years, working on various film projects related to the future of food – we have had the opportunity to film with and learn from some of the worlds leading climate scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, educators, and doctors – about the biggest impact we as individuals can have – both on the environment and on our own health. Those experiences have inspired me to include several of the most impactful, sustainable practices into my daily life. Even undertaking one of these daily activities will have a huge impact!

  1. Eating less or no red meat – red meat is by far the most taxing food on our environment – if you were to normalize the environmental impacts of different foods it would be (Plants =1, Nonbeef meat items =2 and read meet =10 – 100)
  2. Put plants at the center of my plate – way less environmentally taxing and better for you!
  3. Support farmers markets and food is grown locally and in season – fewer emissions to transport and support the local economy
  4. Support healthy farming practices that work with nature – whether at the farmers market or grocery store, support Organic, Regenerative, Permaculture, and other systems that honor nature and enhance ecosystems over time.
  5. Composting! There is really no such thing as waste – so turning all of our food scraps back into healthy soils for the garden has a powerful practice!!

What’s one thing you do to keep your immune system strong and resilient?

Whole food plants – that is the foundation of a strong immune system. The darker the pigmentation of fruits and vegetables the better – it means they were grown in healthy soils and is going to be the best for both you and the environment. By putting whole food plants at the center of your plate – as much as possible – you are automatically phasing out some of the less healthy, less desirable foods. I also try and vary the plants as much as possible – different plants that come into season is a great way to do this. Including variety and diversity in the plants and seasons is key – the more diversity the better!

How have you been handling things since the pandemic began? Do you have any tips for staying sane during this time?

Its been quite a ride for sure. And like everyone, I think ive had some good days and some darker ones. Trying to stay positive and focus on holistic wellness has been the key. My daily morning routine has been key to staying in a healthy headspace – most of the time!. For me, that means daily journaling, reading, meditation, and movement. Sometimes it means a good glass of wine with a few (socially distant)  friends in the front garden. Ive really tried to listen to my body and not be too hard on myself – which is an ongoing journey in it of itself. 🙂

What’s the thing you’re looking forward to most once the stay at home order has been lifted?

Travelin back east to see my family and spending some time in coastal Maine, one of my favorite happy places in the world. Traveling generally has always been incredible, but I think it will take on a new sense of excitement and beauty having been grounded for so long.

Your go-to easy recipe?

Some Variation or RBV as I call it – of Rice, Beans, and Veg. It’s healthy, simple & delicious, and stores well in the fridge for days. Depending on the season or what is local ill incorporate brown rice, basmati, Quinoa, different types of beans, and all kinds of vegetables – and sometimes some guac or hot sauce.

Your favorite place to travel and why

Turkey – it is still so untouched by western culture and brands. It feels a little dangerous sometimes and yes has this a beautiful mixture of Muslim and European backgrounds. From a food perspective, architecturally. We’ve got some family friends who live there so have been able to see the country from locals’ perspective – which is anyways the best way to experience new people, culture and place.

What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am an avid student of politics and international relations. I believe that in order to address the mounting health, environmental, and overall societal challenges our world faces, we need to cooperate and innovate on a global scale. It’s fascinating to see and experience how cultures and peoples from all over the world interact with each other – we are all a part of the same plant, the same ecosystem, and ultimately interdependent from one another. Celebrating that truth will be a big part of us creating a healthier, more regenerative world we must grow together.

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