“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question hopefully every kid is asked early on in their life by someone who is genuinely interested in encouraging whatever their response may be. For the past 30 years, the typical response from young boys have been the ever popular police officer, firefighter, doctor or some other noble profession. When young girls are asked this question, you typically hear a teacher or a nurse. Ask a young kid today what they would like to be when they are older, and you may hear anything from a furry , reality TV star or a YouTube sensation. In a world where anyone (for the most part) can be whatever they want, what would your response be to the young kid full of hope if they said they wanted to teach the world how to treat and possibly cure terminal illness by simply helping people incorporate a plant into their body?
This is pretty close to the story of Missy, a personal chef who turned to food, when life didn’t go exactly how she planned. In this interview, the owner of Hippie Sugar shares with us how she began to eat, how she began to eat differently, and what led her to turn her passion for food into her mission to make life better for those in need of her culinary infused creations. This is the interview of how food changed her life, while improving her life, and her quest to help others.
What role has food played in your life from early on to present day?
Food has always been a focal point in my life. In my family, when we celebrate something, there’s plenty of good food. When we mourn something, there’s even more good food. I grew up in a family that eats dinner promptly at 5 every evening. Eating outside of our home, especially fast food, was a sporadic treat. My mother prepared all of our meals at home, and you best believe we cleaned our plates before being excused. Which I think leads to an unhealthy relationship with food, if you let it. The mentality of “eating it all just because there’s some left” is much like an alcoholic looks at a bottle. It becomes a disease of the mind. I would say that for the first half of my life, I had a negative relationship with food, which stemmed from a lack of understanding its purpose for the human body. I’ve had to completely retrain myself and learn how to have my stomach communicate effectively with my brain, and how to listen to my body’s natural cues for hunger. And most importantly, how to view food as fuel, and not entertainment. My profession, as well as my personal experience, has led me to a well-informed, positive, beautiful relationship with food. I enjoy spending my time sharing that with people.
How would you describe yourself to others; whether it be what you say about yourself or what others say about you?
I’m a lover of the human experience. It fascinates me. Every moment of organic joy, every teardrop, and everything in between, I try to experience to the fullest, to truly feel any given emotion down to my soul. These emotions are the essence of what makes us human, and I relish every experience. These moments are meant to be felt to the bone. I strive to find the positive aspect of any given situation, no matter how dire; I promise it’s there if you just look. I hope people think of me as a light in the darkness. Joyful, friendly, intelligent, domestic. But most importantly, genuine.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As outdated as it sounds, I always wanted to be a Betty Crocker Housewife. My mother is a perfect example of this, and I always admired my parent’s marriage (now 34 years strong!). I always felt a sense of shame when admitting these aspirations to my teacher as a kid. After all, I was a child of the 90’s, raised amidst the mentality that women can do anything, so why stay at home? We can be an astronaut, an engineer, even president! But my dreams revolved around learning how to provide a happy, beautiful home for my healthy, well-fed family. This was typically scoffed at, by my progressively feminist elders especially, and I learned eventually to keep it to myself. But I always knew I would do something with food, in or out of the home. Perhaps a TV chef, or cookbook author. And if all else failed and this dream proved unfruitful, I figured I’d build hot rods with my Daddy and be a bad ass street racer with the fastest blown ’55 Chevy 2-door hardtop this side of the Mississippi.
At one point in time, you weighed an extra 100+ lbs and by definition you were obese. What was happening in your life during these years and what was your wake-up call that you had to make a change?
I was always the chubby girl, as long as I can remember. I played softball and was later on the dance team in High School, so I was always active, but always on the heavy side. But I got married right out of H.S. and entered a tumultuous, physically abusive marriage that lasted nearly 10 years. I attained my housewife status, the job I always wanted, and was given the opportunity and resources to learn to become the Domestic Goddess I always envisioned – to cook and bake everything from scratch, but at an extreme cost. The process of trying to let go of that dream and escape such a destructive reality really sent me over the edge emotionally. I dove into food, searching for comfort from the sting of the painful realization that I was a failure at maintaining the nuclear family I’d always dreamed of. My life crashed. I ate my way from “charmingly chubby” to morbidly obese. I would literally eat myself sick at practically every meal, in a sad attempt to numb the pain. This is a lonely state of being for anyone to find themselves in. It’s a fairly easy situation to get in to, and seemingly impossible to get yourself out of.
How did you feel about yourself when you were overweight and what was the conversation you had with yourself to start getting you on the right track with your diet?
Your sense of self when you’re that overweight is a bit enigmatic. On average, day-to-day, you feel pretty middle of the road, although you’re easily influenced one way or the other by the smallest things. A simple compliment can send you soaring, but an offensive comment can send you reeling. Personally, I was extremely dependent on what others thought of me. I had no sense of pride in my life. I felt like a failure in everything I did. I longed to respect myself as a woman. After all, I had made a monumental change by leaving an abusive marriage. But my confidence was shot. I wanted to be healthy. I watched my dad go through the perils of heart disease (though it was stress-related, not weight), and I knew I wanted to avoid that fate.
I will never forget the day I started my weight loss journey. I saw a picture of myself in a Wonder Woman costume (a day that I felt like I looked pretty good), and it made me cry. It sounds cliché, but I honestly didn’t recognize myself. I was so tired of being out of control of every aspect of my life. I decided if my weight and my health was the only thing in my life that I *could* control, I would. I stood in front of my mirror and really looked at myself, challenging myself not to cry. If I didn’t cry and could truly love the girl I saw, then maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But oh man, did I cry. From the depths of my soul. It wasn’t an issue of vanity or a just a desire to look good. I was a broken, shattered shell of a woman that had completely lost touch of who I was. I found the necessary fuel to fight that day, like I had cried tears of gasoline. I was intimidated by the long road ahead, but the self-confidence, self-respect, and self-control I would gain would prove to be invaluably beautiful and well worth the struggle. And it all started with what I put in (and what malicious, self-destructive words came out of) my mouth.
So how did you lose 100+ lbs in a manner you’ve been able to keep the weight off, and what has this change meant to your overall quality of life?
How I actually lost the weight is fairly simple, at least in theory (the execution is inarguably torture at times). I spent the first 3 months or so just retraining my body to eat until I was no longer hungry, rather than until I was full. I had to literally shrink my stomach after years of stretching it by eating myself into oblivion. That was the hardest part: walking away still hungry for so long. I’ve always avoided fast food and eaten fresh and from scratch. My problem wasn’t with content, it was portions. But after that finally subsided and I learned self-control, the rest came fairly easily and my quality of life drastically changed. My world no longer revolved around food and constant hunger. The more I lost, the more desire I had to get up and move. I started dancing all the time again. I found the song in my heart again. And finding that daily sense of accomplishment in my achievement has really helped keep me motivated to maintain. I never dieted or tried anything crazy because I wanted to truly change my life and my health. This mentality is the key to successful, long term weight loss and subsequent maintenance.
Cannabis, cooking, and medicine… depending on who you ask and what they believe, none of those things bare any relation to each other. As a personal chef, you’ve made the decision to marry these things into your everyday business. How did this come about and why?
My decision to change my health was heavily influenced by the decline of the health of those around me. I watched as close friends and family members go through painful, sometimes terminal diagnoses and felt helpless. Then I realized that food, when utilized properly, is in itself medicine. My initial reaction to seeing those I care for in pain is to cook them comforting food. While calorie-laden food is indeed healing to the soul, it’s hardly healing to a sickly body. I had some experience in cooking recreationally with Cannabis, but my desire to know more about the plant’s healing properties grew as I watched traditional pharmaceuticals fail my loved ones time and again. It’s hard to feel helpless, yet want so desperately to help. So I decided to use the skills in the kitchen that I already possessed. The marriage of my knowledge of food with my burgeoning knowledge of the different properties of the Cannabis plant enabled me to discover my passion as well as do my little part in positively contributing to the human experience, and change my little corner of the world.
You being someone who is under the age of 40 have no doubt heard many opinions, some stated as fact, about the herb you cook with for your clients. What is your view on the conversation being had around a key ingredient of your business?
Personally, I’m relieved to finally see a change in attitude in the public forum about the medicinal benefits of using the whole Cannabis plant to treat a range of ailments. It’s a difficult conversation to initiate with many, given its current classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Especially in those 40 and over, there’s a fear that’s been instilled in the minds of the uninformed. Programs like D.A.R.E. have aided in the brainwashing of the so- called millennial generation. We’re all so grossly misinformed. We’ve been trained to trust drug dealers with white coats and plaques on the walls, and condemn drug dealers on the street. I think this conversation is long overdue, and absolutely necessary if we expect to eradicate cancer and other terminal illnesses. A certain amount of fearlessness and finesse is definitely required when approaching someone with differing beliefs about it, but it’s time to talk and take action.
If any, what responsibility do you believe those who use the plant recreationally have on the perception others may have and how this either helps or hurts the cause in making sure a mature conversation is being had by all who have an opinion they’d like to share on this highly debated topic?
I think the idea of the “stupid stoner” is extremely outdated, but good luck fighting that stereotype. I decided in my line of work, I could either deny the “hippie” persona, or learn to embrace it, which I have (as evidenced by my company name, Hippie Sugar, as well as my trademark baked good, Hippie Cakes.) I think responsible recreational use of Cannabis is more common among fully functioning, intelligent adults than most people realize. Is there abuse of THC? Absolutely. Just as there’s alcohol abuse or prescription drug abuse. People abuse junk food and shopping and gambling – the list goes on. People will always find a way to take something positive and put a negative spin on it or abuse it. Recreational *users* aren’t the problem with the perception of this movement. Recreational*abusers* are. I’ve noticed that just a slight variation in vernacular makes a huge difference in someone’s perception of the plant. “Cannabis” implies the plant’s medicinal qualities, whereas “Marijuana” conjures up images of Shaggy and Willie Nelson puffing a joint. Therefore, I choose to mainly refer to the plant as Cannabis. I think it’s vital to the cause that all of us in support (recreational users especially) represent the issue intelligently, if we expect to be taken seriously in a public forum by those opposed to our opinions. We are in the middle of a revolution; we should all be working together to change the negative stigma attached to our cause by representing ourselves, and this issue, tactfully and intelligently.
For those who may be under the impression that the Cannabis plant has no medicinal value, what has your personal experience been, or what results have you witnessed using this plant, and how do you use it specifically?
The power of the Cannabis plant to effectively treat a plethora of ailments is finally being documented by science, and that information is slowly being digested by the masses. I have dealt with many desperate people with terminal diagnoses that are, understandably, willing to try anything even slightly promising to treat themselves, or at very least, alleviate their often painful symptoms. I’ve treated both humans and dogs with Lung Cancer, Colo-Rectal Cancer, Leukemia, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy, just to name a few, using both CBD, and THC (CBD has no psychoactive effects and is the main component thought to treat/ cure most ailments.) I use different ratios of CBD to Organic cold-pressed Coconut oil, as well as THC (usually in the form of BHO or live extracted concentrates) to treat cancerous tumors, seizures, tremors, etc. depending on the strain of plant used and the illness/ symptom being targeted.
I had a client with a dog that was her life companion with a mysterious illness that the Vet couldn’t identify, but it was preventing her dog from eating. My client was forced to watch her faithful companion spend her last days unable to eat or move. With the help of THC, I was able to provide a peaceful last chapter to her beloved pet’s life, virtually free of suffering. I’ve seen 80% shrinkage in a tumor in one client’s cancerous lung, which the Doctor himself admitted could only logically be attributed to 4 months of my CBD/ coconut oil treatment. I had a friend with a Colo-Rectal tumor the size of a baseball which made it extremely difficult to function and uncomfortable to move. I created a coconut oil- based THC infused topical salve to help numb the pain in the interim between his diagnosis and removal. At our follow up meeting a week after giving him this salve, he had tears of gratitude streaming down his face. He said the relief he experienced from the salve was incomparable to the numbing cream the Dr. had prescribed him (and smelled much better, as well as being non-toxic.)
I’ve seen an Epileptic go weeks without seizures using both my CBD oil and my THC oil. I’ve helped a client with Lung Cancer regain his appetite after a dangerous spell from the prescribed radiation treatment. When given access to the full plant and Coconut Oil, I can treat the symptoms of virtually any illness, as well as the ill after effects of their commercial pharmaceutical treatments. I holistically treat the things your Dr. has you convinced that only dangerous, expensive pharmaceuticals can treat, and at a fraction of the cost. And my preferred method of delivery is through oral consumption, like being wrapped up in tasty, healthy treats. Smoking is definitely not the only viable option to deliver THC to the system, and is definitely my least recommended method to those that are already suffering.
How did you acquire the knowledge necessary to be able to use this plant as medicine for those who would rather use a plant to treat conditions they would rather not treat with pharmaceutical drugs for a number of reasons?
It’s unfortunate that the legal status of Cannabis stands where it does because it has forced me, and others like me, to have to relocate out of state in order to be able to use the whole plant, from harvest to finished product, in any form I see fit for my clients. I was fortunate to have met with someone during my experimental phase with both the financial freedom, and the faith in my abilities to be able to give me free reign to learn and grow my knowledge through hands-on experience. Once I was given access to the full plant at harvest, I was able to learn different targeted extraction techniques with fresh material and have complete control over the quality of the end product, as well as knowledge of potency. This was necessary to develop perfect recipes to reach targeted outcomes.
I’ve always been interested in “Kitchen Science”; the “how and why” of cooking and baking from scratch, which is necessary to be able to develop your own recipes, especially when baking. I acquired this knowledge in my early days as a home cook, and found it to be highly transferable to the Cannabis realm, as well as being extremely useful during the “Trial and Error” stage of my learning process with the plant (with very little “error” to speak of). After developing my ratios and recipes, it was time to begin live testing. I started by treating terminally ill dogs and testing their reactions, with great success. Then I began treating close friends and family (some of which were terminal) with astonishing success. The recipes I developed required very little tweaking, as most of it was common sense for a chef (and my early days experimenting with recreational “canna-butter” helped). I feel like there was a divine element playing a role in my meeting with my initial client, enabling me to develop knowledge and experience, and to bring them the treatment they were seeking. The ability to experiment and grow without fear of legality and without financial restraints is something I’ll be forever grateful for, and the knowledge I gained is immeasurably valuable for both my business and my personal life.
How would you like to see this plant, as a medicine or otherwise, be viewed or discussed going forward to make sure we are framing up the conversation about this plant in the correct way?
I hope that moving forward, we collectively choose, as a community supportive of full plant legalization, to speak factually, statistically, and intelligently, rather than based on our opinions. I would like to at least see the Cannabis plant given the same respect as other holistic herbal treatments. Many heart patients, for example, take things like extraction of St. John’s Wort as a daily supplement for heart health. The singular CBD extraction from the Cannabis plant is no different as far as innocently aiding health with no side effects. Extractions from many healing plants have become a widely accepted, viable alternative to pharmaceuticals by Middle America. But something rarely discussed is how many of the herbal supplements we take, even household plants and some of the fruits and vegetables we eat, have psychoactive properties when used in various forms besides those marketed. Does that cause us to question their effectiveness or bar their legality? No, it doesn’t. So why is Cannabis so different?
A common counter-argument with those opposed to the legalization of the full Cannabis plant has to do with its likelihood of being abused. I like to compare prescription Opiates with Cannabis when dealing intelligently with skeptics. An estimated 2.1 million Americans were addicted to prescription pain medication in 2012, and the number of Overdose deaths has more than quadrupled since 1999 (National Institute of Drug Abuse). I’m sure we all know at least one person in our lives who has battled such an addiction, and perhaps had their life taken by it. Do you know how many people have overdosed on Cannabis, even when concentrated and used recreationally? ZERO. EVER. That’s because it’s practically physically impossible. Let me put it to you like this:
drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical, are lab tested and given what’s called an LD-50 rating, which refers to the dosage amount that 50% of test animals given a drug will die, due to drug induced toxicity (overdose). Researchers have attempted several times to determine the LD-50 rating of Cannabis, and failed. Quite simply, researchers have been unable to give test animals enough Cannabis to cause overdose.
It’s estimated that Cannabis’ LD-50 rating is in the neighborhood of 1:20,000 to 1:40,000 (or 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC contained in one joint.) That means the average person would have to consume about 1,500 lbs. within 15 minutes to induce overdose. Even when consuming “Dabs” recreationally, which are typically 3-4 times stronger than Cannabis flowers, it would still require hundreds of lbs. to be consumed within 15 minutes to prove fatal. Pretty impossible.
And that’s just recreationally speaking of THC, only 1 component of a highly versatile plant. CBD creates absolutely zero psychoactive effects, with no negative side effects whatsoever on a molecular level. The same cannot be said about alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs. Given this information, why is the Federal Government still prohibiting progress using this plant? Well, nobody likes to admit they’re wrong.
Depending on what state you live in, the possession, use, or consumption, no matter the reason, remains illegal, thus making your business in direct conflict with state law. What do you say to those who would like to understand why cannabis is something you choose to be a part of your culinary business?
Cannabis is still illegal in the majority of the United States, especially on a recreational level. Given that, I have chosen for the time being to base my business in Oklahoma in the Cherokee Nation (I’m registered Cherokee) because CBD is now legal across the board here. So whole plant possession is still illegal, making home extraction impossible at this time. But I AM legally able to purchase ready-made CBD oil and educate clients on its benefits, as well as cook with it, create daily supplements, and so on. So pain relief, appetite inducement, and any other treatment involving THC is out of the realm of legal possibility for me in this state at this time.
But my desire to help those suffering has led me to many new, beautiful places before, and given the right client (and legal parameters) I’d be willing to go just about anywhere in order to utilize my extensive knowledge. I don’t partake personally of THC, and I think that’s important to make clear to my clients. My drive and desire to do what I do is driven by my desire to help make a difference in someone’s life with what has been made naturally and readily available on this Earth. My dream is to someday live and work anywhere I choose in this country and use the whole Cannabis plant, as well as my culinary skills, to save the world.