We spoke with Ryan Storm, the healthy 12 year old food blogger behind Ry’s Ratings. Ryan has good taste (no pun intended) and a passion for healthy, organic, local and nut-free foods. We found out why he never waits in line at the ice cream truck, about the phone call he makes before he visits a new restaurant, and what it’s really like to be Lisa Borden’s son.
It seems that at such a young age, you eat healthier than most adults. How and when did you start to eat this way?
It all started when my family figured out my sister had a nut allergy. We already ate pretty well, but then, as my mom looked more closely at labels, she realized how bad the stuff we ate was, so then we got rid of lots more ingredients. There were many that we thought were ok, like organic sugar – now we only have raw honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar – and when we go out, even our favourite bakeries don’t use refined ingredients, and are happy to be vegan! When everything tastes so good, we have no reason to eat fake or toxic food.
Where does the food you eat come from?
The food I eat mostly comes from my garden and farmers’ markets when it’s in season. I definitely believe that the markets are the best place to shop. I do have a weakness for great sheep’s milk cheese and mustard (both of which I also get at the market!). My favourite stores in Toronto are The Healthy Butcher, Qi, and most certainly, The Big Carrot.
How do you choose which restaurants to review?
I find out about restaurants through twitter, facebook, my mom, the internet, or from people telling me about them. Then I do my research by calling them directly and asking them about their use of organic ingredients, and their commitment to using non-gmo ingredients, and their support of local and organic farms. I also ask them about accommodating vegan, gluten-free (if they aren’t exclusively vegan restaurants, of course!) and nut allergies, too. I don’t tell them who I am, because I like to go and eat there, and make sure that I like it all first. I only write positive reviews (you won’t find any negative reviews on my blog, just the honest truth!), so if I don’t like the restaurant, I don’t feel pressured to write them up at all.
If you’re at someone else’s home or at school, and somebody offers you something to eat, how do you respond?
Depending on the situation, I would look at it, and if it is a fruit or a vegetable, I would usually accept it, but otherwise, I politely decline. It’s rare that I don’t have something of my own to eat when out, just in case. If we go somewhere as a family, we like to bring lots of our own type of food, but always enough to share with everyone, hoping that they will like, and maybe incorporate more healthy food into their homes and family!
How do you deal with kids your own age who don’t understand your eating habits?
I think by now, my friends understand and respect the way that I eat and don’t tease me about it, and some even like to try things too, which is great. The other kids that don’t understand or make fun of me, just aren’t people I hang with or listen to. I know that I’m doing what’s good for me and hope that others might follow if I lead by example.
If you could have anything you wanted for dinner tonight, what would it be, and who would prepare it?
I would probably ask Doug McNish to come to my home kitchen to prepare his incredible vegan potato salad with tahini and red pepper sauce along with a huge plate of tempeh bacon, and a bottle of Mint Chlorophyll Rise Kombucha (sorry mom, I love your food too, especially your Tu-Not Casserole and Lentil Whiz).
Tell us the truth. What’s it really like to have Lisa Borden for a mom? Does she help you write your blog?
She’s the best mom in the entire world. And no, she didn’t even bribe me to say this! I have a difficult time with a few things in my life and she is always there to help me out, and make me proud of myself. She has made me confident to be myself everywhere I go, and not be afraid to think and act differently than everyone else, which I find that I do a lot!! We even wrote an article together about that in Eco Parent Magazine.
And NO! My mom does not write my blog – it’s all me, except I do get a lot of inspiration and information from my mom, and she types as I dictate my reviews (but then I have to proofread and change a lot because she makes a lot of typos and misses some stuff along the way). (Sorry again, mom!)
Does your dad like to eat the same way as you and your mom? Or does he sneak you to pizza pizza when mom’s not looking?
Ha! Like that would ever happen. Of course he eats the same way that we all do, we are a family! He is a Rob-atarian and he even gets his colleagues to go to farm-to-table and organic and vegan restaurants when he is on business trips without us.
How do you help teach your younger sister and brother to eat healthy?
I don’t really teach them, they already know just from being part of my family and my parents bringing us up like this. We all learn new things together and then adapt what we are doing. My 6 year old brother even knows to refuse treats at school and at camp without us around, and he calls the Ice Cream Truck the “chemical truck” and wonders why so many people line up for stuff from there!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
There’s a funny story there. I might want to be a musician (I play piano and love the band Phish), but my great grandfather made me promise to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or an engineer. My great grandfather just turned 100 – I love him so much. I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up, I am just being me right now.
You are a part of Me to We Style’s, Community T-Shirt Series. What does your quote mean to you?
It’s pretty simple, let’s say you are eating an ice cream cone. It might taste good on your tongue, but if you trace back the ingredients of everything in your ice cream cone to learn that it’s toxically made with dangerous ingredients that are not good for you, or even the people who made it, how can you feel good? So, I want people to love what they are eating for flavour and taste and enjoyment, but also to know what they are eating, and where it came from, and feel good about it! So, “Part of taste IS feeling good about what you eat!” (Ryan’s shirt is available now for a very limited time on Me to We Style!)
For more information on Ryan and his ratings, visit rysratings.ca. Follow him at @ry_storm, and Like him on Facebook too!