Don’t self-diagnose. If you are not feeling well, seek out a medical professional that can diagnose your problem and don’t give up until you feel 100%. If you sense that you feel bloated and tired after you have a pizza, and you have symptoms of gluten sensitivity, get tested for celiac. I have met many people who did not feel well most of their life until they got diagnosed and followed a strict gluten free diet.
Asa part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Bartolucci.
Carla is the founder of Jovial Foods, Inc. and has been involved in the organic food industry for more than twenty years. She carries a strong passion for cooking and has deep roots in Italy where she lives on a small farm with her Italian-born husband and their children. Carla hosts culinary getaways in a beautiful villa in Tuscany where she leads classes in traditional Italian cooking and bread baking using einkorn and gluten free ingredients. She published her first cookbook in 2014, Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat, composed of 100 recipes using the ancient grain einkorn and is currently working on her second.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
After losing both parents to cancer by my mid-twenties, my Italian-born husband and I wanted to work in the emerging organic food industry to make organic foods available to more people so we began importing an organic Italian food brand called bionaturae. A few years later, we started a family and my first child suffered from food intolerances from early on. When she turned 7, she was very sick, with frequent bronchitis, asthma, skin rashes, diarrahea, swollen lymph nodes, and her hair was falling out. She was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, not celiac disease, and we began searching as far back as we could to an ancient wheat that was not tampered with by modern agricultural practices like hybridization. When we discovered einkorn wheat, and began feeding it to Giulia, she flourished, and so we started the jovial brand and began selling einkorn products, as well as the highest quality gluten and allergen-free foods we could make.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The most interesting story is how I had never heard about einkorn, even though I was interested in ancient grains, and when the moment was right, the discovery and development evolved very quickly. One thing led to another very quickly, and within a month of the first time I heard of einkorn, we were planting our first 50 acres. The main lesson I have learned in my life is, everything unfolds at the right time, even though you might long for things to happen faster. When it’s the right time, things just unfold with little effort and unexpected surprises. You just have to keep the faith.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake I made was thinking I could start a business with a small loan, not realizing it would grow so quickly. We were able to maintain growth at a steady pace, and stretch our initial investment to today, but the lesson I learned is owning a successful business does not necessarily make you rich. If you are going to hold onto your business longterm, you need to invest your profits back into the business each year, as well as work hard.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My brother Mike was working as a bricklayer when I got the idea to start my business. He is very frugal and had saved every dollar he had earned since he was 16. I had nothing, but when I told him of my idea, he believed in me and loaned me the money to get started. He has supported me in many ways, always there for whatever I needed, and never doubting that I would be successful. We’ve worked together for 26 years at the business now.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
The jovial brand is for all people seeking wellness through a dietary change. It is our goal to create foods that are safe but more importantly, of high quality, organic, allergen-free and delicious. We respect the process of finding the foods that heal by supporting people on that journey. We are committed to organic farming, as well as making foods with no additives. We have become the largest growers of einkorn in the world, a grain that was on the brink of instinction, so that is helping to preserve the world’s biodiversity. We are committed to the environment, and use as little plastic as possible in our packing. We are also proud that our headquarters is powered 100% by solar.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Number One- Don’t self-diagnose. If you are not feeling well, seek out a medical professional that can diagnose your problem and don’t give up until you feel 100%. If you sense that you feel bloated and tired after you have a pizza, and you have symptoms of gluten sensitivity, get tested for celiac. I have met many people who did not feel well most of their life until they got diagnosed and followed a strict gluten free diet.
Number Two- Don’t follow a trendy diet unless you have a reason that is more than just weight loss. Finding the right foods for your body will inevitably lead to the weight that is right for you. Restrictive diets can lead to serious imbalances.
Number Three- Eat seasonally. I have lived in Italy for over 30 years, and I am convinced one of the best dietary recommendations I can give is to eat seasonally. Eat asparags for the month they are in season until you can’t stand them anymore, then forget about them until the following year. This creates a natural rotation in your diet, which can prevent and control intolerances, and it makes the seasons a celebration.
Number Four- Unclutter your mind on a daily basis. Cell phones offer a world of information and communication, but they also inhibit true relaxation. Many of us relax while looking at our phones, but the reality is our minds are not relaxing while we scroll through feeds. Get outside once a day, even for just 10 minutes, and breathe.
Number Five- Go to bed at a reasonable hour, and if you do go to bed late, make it the exception. Sleep is so important for good health, and with so much screen time, it’s getting harder and harder to get a good night’s rest. Sleep boosts your immunity, and lack of sleep can contribute to chronic illness.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would enhance standard medical care with a more integrative approach, combining MDs with naturopaths, acupuncturists, energy healers and dietitians. Most adults are not optimally healthy, and I believe correcting imbalances longterm is difficult to achieve with prescription drugs alone. To be optimally well, we need to develop a more integrative healthcare system.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Starting a business would be hard, but I would make it through and develop the thriving company with a true mission that I had dreamed of.
- Something really great always follows something really bad.
- Feeling guilty because I was a working mom with children was a waste of time.
- Even if your children turn on you as they get older, and everything you do seems meaningless, it’s only a phase that will pass.
- Don’t let your work be your life. Relax and have fun too.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
I live on a farm in a small town above the city and I can see the pollution that surrounds the city. By making simple choices each day, I think we can all do a lot to clean up the environment. Small sacrifices by everyone can make a world of difference.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Follow us on Instagram to learn about the company, our products and my life in Italy! https://www.instagram.com/jovialfoods/
Thank you for these fantastic insights!