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A Tribute to Kate Wallinga and Ignorance Was Bliss: Not Enough Fish In The Sea with Corinna Bellizzi (ep. 445)

A Special Tribute Episode to Katherine “Kate” B. (Bowers) Wallinga,
May 30, 1977 ~ February 10, 2024 (age 46)

Kate Wallinga

Care More Be Better Host / Ignorance Was Bliss Guest: Corinna Bellizzi

Ignorance Was Bliss Host: Kate Wallinga (Archival Audio)
Republished with the permission of Kate Wallinga’s family.

Introduction: Corinna Bellizzi opens the episode by paying tribute to Kate Wallinga, a podcaster and storyteller who recently passed away. Bellizzi reflects on her connection with Kate, emphasizing her role as an inspiration and a significant influence in the podcast community. Kate was so many things to so many people. She inspired a thriving audience of guests and fellow podcasters (myself included). She was mother to four amazing children, and she spent almost 30 years with her life partner and husband. She served as a clinician and was an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. In short, she was one amazing woman who shone brightly, even in the darkest of times. Her optimism and willingness to be there for her community right until the end is noteworthy. We were all lucky to have her, and we’re lucky to still have her podcast to refer back to. To still hear her voice and learn with her about the people she served is a true gift.

Kate’s Podcast Host Achievements:

  • Hosted Podcast: Ignorance Was Bliss
  • Podcast Run: 2018 – January 2024
  • Episodes: 498 episodes, over 1 million listens
  • Background: Kate shared her life’s journey, her battle with health challenges, and her insights through her podcast. She passed away on February 10, 2024, at the age of 46.

Kate’s Episode Positioning and Opening Words (archival): Can algae be interesting? (Hint: Yes. Yes, it can.) Can it save the world? (Hint #2: Also yes.) Give this a listen. It matters. Kate reminisces about her recording session with Corinna, highlighting her initial intrigue about discussing algae and how it turned into an engaging and educational conversation.

Tribute Episode Discussion Points:

  1. Kate’s Impact: Bellizzi discusses how Kate’s curiosity and storytelling prowess encouraged her to open up about personal and professional experiences, particularly in health and nutrition.
  2. Omega-3 Fats: Corinna dives deep into the benefits of Omega-3s, their necessity in diets, and the science behind them. She explains the difference between Omega-3 and other fats and the health problems arising from Omega-6 heavy diets.
  3. Sustainability in the Omega-3 Industry: Bellizzi talks about the challenges of sourcing Omega-3s sustainably, touching upon overfishing and the innovative alternatives like deriving Omega-3s from algae.
  4. The Future of Nutrition: Exploring the shift from fish-derived Omega-3s to algae-based sources, Corinna explains the environmental and health benefits of this transition.

Conclusion:

Corinna invites listeners to explore Kate’s podcast, “Ignorance Was Bliss,” to further connect with her stories and contributions. She closes by thanking Kate’s family for allowing her to share this episode and paying homage to Kate’s lasting impact.

Links:

TRANSCRIPT

Corinna Bellizzi: I’m your host, Corinna Bellizzi. Today I have a special tribute to share with all of you. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve been a guest on so many podcast shows and radio shows. And one of my absolute favorites was a podcast called.

Ignorance was bliss. It’s hosted by the incredibly skilled interviewer, a creative storyteller, and the ever curious Kate Willinga. Sadly, Kate battled incredible health challenges since well before our first connection back in 2022. She sadly passed away at the young age of 46 this year on February 10th, 2024.

Ever since, I’ve been thinking about how best to pay tribute to her. So I reached out to her husband, Willem, to ask if I could share this episode and her voice on the podcasts that I host. I’m so glad that he said yes. You see, for me, Kate was an inspiration. She was so many things to so many people. She was a devoted mother, a beloved wife, a committed storyteller, and a compassionate clinician.

She shared her life through her podcast, which she got started back in 2018 and kept running up until the very end. Her last episode was published in January 2024, just weeks before she passed. She was transparent with her journey. She said the good, the bad, the sad. In her time podcasting, she recorded and released a total of 498 episodes with well over 1 million listens overall.

And with her show, she collected and share stories that explore how we each become who we are on a fundamental level. I truly loved my time with her. She inspired me to share more than I typically do. Because with her child like curiosity, I I was compelled to speak. I was compelled to really share not only the story of my passion for health and nutrition and in particular Omega threes, but also my life experience.

She got under my skin while keeping our conversation. Really, really real beyond my experience, I knew Kate to be a powerful connector and community builder. She genuinely cared about everyone. She knew she shone through the darkness and she was a beacon of light for her entire community. I know that I didn’t get enough of Kate, but I’m sure that everyone who knows her feels exactly the same way, especially her family, her four children, her husband, and all of those who are close to her.

But today, for me, this will have to be enough, and I am honored that I get to share. This episode with you today, if you enjoy our conversation, I hope you’ll check out ignorance was bliss on your favorite podcast platform. You can start by visiting her website, which I’ll be sure to link with show notes, or you can simply search for ignorance was bliss on your favorite podcast platform.

Kate Wallinga will soon soothe your ear holes and you’ll enjoy the many stories that she worked to tell without further ado. Here is Kate.

Kate Wallinga: Hey, this is Kate. One of the first recordings that I made after my surgery was with a woman named Corinna Bellizzi. And all I knew, because I don’t research my guests before we record, is that she had a podcast and, and then we started talking and I realized, oh, she wants to talk about, Algae. Why would anybody want to talk about algae?

And some piece of my brain went, Well, here we go, because let’s be real, I’ve had some recordings in the past where I’ve just barely hung on to my attention span by the skin of my teeth. And then when we were done, I went upstairs and I told my husband, you know, I just talked for 45 minutes about algae.

And it was fantastic! It was interesting, and I learned things, and I stayed engaged, and Man, this is just the best hobby ever. Are you sure you really want to know? This is Ignorance Was Bliss.

Corinna Bellizzi: I’m Corinna Bellizzi, and I’m a natural products executive who’s spent the past 20 plus years working in the world of Omega 3s. It’s been a journey thus far, and I just keep going.

Kate Wallinga: So let’s start with what does that mean? Because I’m sure that there are people who are like, I don’t know, Omega, is that the latest variant of COVID or what?

Like what, how do you describe that for people?

Corinna Bellizzi: The Omicron variant, right? That’s what everybody’s talking about. And yeah, you know, you start to give things like an alpha variant beta. Now you’re talking Omega, which literally means last. Um, Omega threes. They are a class of fats that your body needs in order to optimally function.

And while I didn’t go to school to become an omega 3 evangelist, I kind of ended up being one, um, after graduating college and looking for a day job to get me through until I would go be Indiana Jones. And then I fell in love with, um, in the natural products industry and learning about nutrition and bringing it forward to people.

Ultimately, the reason I’ve spent the last 20 years working in the space of Omega threes has to do with one simple thing, and that’s that I know that by putting them in front of people and giving them a great product that can. ultimately be absorbed in their bodies, that their health improves. I’ve seen it time and again.

And the reason it works so well is simply because our diets have become so deficient in these particular fats that we’re out of balance. And so it’s like my contribution to the world to stay focused on this and help people see through the noise, to what the truth is with regard to their health and, um, really help them along the way.

Why

Kate Wallinga: aren’t other fats good? Like what’s the difference between an omega 3 and McDonald’s?

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I would never say other fats aren’t good except for trans fats. And if you, if we start to talk about trans fats and, and this particular class of fats, they’re man made, they’re like minded. plastic. Um, they’re really bad for you.

Like you can’t and shouldn’t consume them. But the reality is that, um, The reason that we’re out of whack is that we have a fast food lifestyle. We like foods that are shelf stable and the work that we’ve done to create shelf stable foods has ultimately reduced the Omega threes in them and increase the Omega sixes.

And so because we’ve done that, our systems fall out of balance. And when our systems are out of balance, then suddenly you have negative health cascades that erupt everything from skin disorders to out of control. Uh, weight gain, inflammation, feeling like you’ve got, um, achy joints. I mean, there’s all sorts of things that can result from that just because you’ve let your diet fall out of whack.

So it’s not something that is really rocket science, but when you get into the biochemistry of it, Everything makes sense because it’s like your body just seeks balance all the time. And if you’re putting inputs in that only give you one thing, guess what? You know, your health kind of starts to crumble.

Um, I feel like it’s one of those clear pieces that comes through if you study just about anything that relates to human health, whether it be mental health or, you know, sleep, like simple things that your body needs in order to function optimally. If you’re, you know, working all the time. And not paying attention to your spiritual self or your family life or your social life.

Suddenly you’re out of balance. You’re not as healthy. You know, you see other problems erupt. And so it’s really no mystery that when our diets fall out of whack, that we have health issues that come out of nowhere.

Kate Wallinga: So I think though that it’s not a cure all right. And so No, there’s nothing. Nothing is.

How do you know how much is enough

Corinna Bellizzi: of an omega three fat? Well, you know, it’s funny because every person, this is like we can get back to what really motivates you to take any supplement or to take on any new diet. Um, the reality is you’re typically trying to address something, right? And in the case of the fats that we consume, They’re involved in every single cell in our body.

We have these things called. cellular lipid bilayers, right? It’s the structural outer wall of every cell in our body. And if you’re not getting a balance of the right fats in your diet, the cellular membrane itself isn’t healthy. And then there’s this next piece of the puzzle too, to consider, because there’s so many, I would say somewhat irresponsible companies coming out and saying, Oh, Omega threes, they’re They’re, uh, they can help you resolve pain and inflammation.

It’s not exactly how they work. Like they’re not a drug. It’s not like you take something like an aspirin and replace it with omega 3. That’s not how it works. It’s as simple as saying that they help to resolve inflammation. They actually stimulate something called resolvins, right? And then they, Also stimulate something else called protectants.

So essentially how the omega 3s EPA and DHA, these specific classes of fats work in the body as they support this resolution of inflammation. So your body returns to its balanced state and also stimulate these protectants, which at the same time, protect your DNA from corruption and damage. So this means that when you’ve got these fats in balance in your diet, that you’re better able to regenerate your cellular systems, that you’re better able to communicate from one cell to the other to regenerate your health literally from the inside out, and so that every system in your body can get back to working the way it’s supposed to in the first place.

And so this is why Often you look at all the research on omega 3s and it starts to look like snake oil, like it can’t possibly work in all these ways, right? How could it help me think more clearly and also support my cardiovascular health and also help me if I have like, uh, skin outbreaks or, you know, weight gain that I didn’t expect or, you know, issues with my endocrine system.

I mean, there’s so many things that it’s involved in because it’s used in every single cell in your body. Right? And so if you’ve gone through, let’s say, a decade of consuming fried foods, fast food, you know, get your diet in a box. Think of Lunchables as your lunch. Um, go ahead and pick up a Subway sandwich and that’s your lunch and dinner because you got the foot long and couldn’t eat it in one setting.

And you’re just consuming like this every single day, then you are not actually feeding your body. The nutrition that it needs to thrive. You’re giving yourself a lot of filler foods, often grains, right? You’re giving yourself a lot of filler fats, often trans fats, shortening fats that are solid at room temperature, seed oils, like fried foods, you know, Those French fries, or even just the oil that’s included in the packaged foods that you bought off the shelf.

And so all of those things essentially are clogging up your system or getting you on this pathway that supports more of a pro inflammatory state, which is going to be more reactive. And that more reactivity with regard to inflammation means that suddenly, if you were predisposed for something like rheumatoid arthritis, guess what?

Transcribed You’re on the path, right? You’ve given yourself nothing but the stuff that helps you go there, essentially. And so, you know, it’s something where we can correct our daily practices to reduce this overconsumption of filler foods and negative fats and increase our consumption of whole foods and positive fats.

Um, You know, it’s not like I can go ahead and say all fats are bad. It’s that’s never been the story, right? We got into this language in the eighties where we said fats are bad, replace it. We’ll go ahead and call the limo lemon heads a zero sugar. It’s a zero. Fat food. We’re going to call the lemon heads that you bought at the little five and dime store, a zero fat food.

Like this is the mess that we were in for good 20 years. And so now we have to correct that. Now we have to get back into the kitchens in a different way. We have to create foods from scratch. We have to look at whole foods and we have to reduce our consumption of packaged foods, seed oils. Um, fried foods, prepared foods, frozen foods, all the things that are just considered stable.

And

Kate Wallinga: what are the downsides, you know, cause everything has its downsides. Every good thing has its downside as well. So what would you

Corinna Bellizzi: characterize as the downsides of this? The biggest downside, and this is something I’m contending with. I feel like I, um, partly a victim of my success in this way. Right.

And it’s not just me. It’s a whole industry of people that have been working in the space of Omega threes. We have. I’ve created a huge market for fish oil and omega 3s from fish oil. And the biggest downside is that there literally are not enough fish in the sea to give everybody a chance. And if Omega three is every day.

And so I was part of the, the industry of people that were working to create that marketplace. Right. And where we’ve come thus far is that our oceans are becoming more acidic. Um, part of that is. Is because they have absorbed more carbon than they’ve traditionally held, um, because there’s more carbon in the atmosphere.

The ocean itself is one of the largest carbon sinks we have. Motion of the waves, all of that helps to absorb carbon into the ocean itself. And with every bit that the ocean absorbs, it’s acidity increases. Think of, you know, your tap water when it has a really high calcium level tends to be more acidic.

Mine here, the pH is really acidic, right? And so we get to a point where the ocean itself, regardless of its temperature, which is a whole different problem, right? Climate change and all that just, but the ocean itself can get to a point where it will no longer support life. And so what we’re seeing presently is that even the species of algae, that thrive in our oceans has changed in some areas.

Um, you’ve seen this in the fish oil world because you can test the Omega threes are in a specific fish oil and find that, um, let’s say the same oil had been produced by the same manufacturer for years and years that the levels of DHA were coming down and the levels of EPA were going up. Why is this?

Right? Why is the balance shifting? Um, the balance is shifting because the species of algae that thrive in the ocean are shifting and the fish get all of their EPA and DHA from the algae they consume. And then they bioaccumulate it and they also bioaccumulate it with toxins and microplastics and all of this other junk that we’ve polluted our oceans with.

Right? And so we’ve essentially got a situation where we need to go somewhere else. for, um, the nutrition, um, rather than the ocean. And this is not because I’m a, you know, bang in the drum vegan or anything like that. I’m probably on a path towards veganism, but I’m definitely not there yet. I still like to consume, um, certain animal products and including fish.

I like to have my sushi, right? Um, But I also understand that we’ve trashed a lot of our natural world and that we need to think differently about where we’re getting our food from. So this is the big, dark underbelly of the Omega 3 and fishing industry. So that’s the dark side.

Kate Wallinga: So what is the answer there?

Like, how do you create it if you can’t go squeeze a fish?

Corinna Bellizzi: That’s a little gross, right? The wringing of the fish. I

Kate Wallinga: mean,

Corinna Bellizzi: you know. Well, so, you know, it’s actually pretty accurate insofar as how you get the oil out of them. You You typically would process sardines and anchovies for their omega 3s because they’re oily fish.

They’re low on the food chain, right? So they don’t have as high of toxins. I’m gonna put them in a centrifuge. They’re basically juiced, right? But as it stands there, we’ve made tremendous leaps in the world of algae technology. So this is the thing that The dark secret that I was never actually, it’s not that I was never told it’s it never came up.

I mean, I worked for almost a decade, um, in the space of fish oils, working to build the company that is Nordic naturals as the second command. I was in charge of, um, our sales marketing and education. So I got to spend a lot of time with researchers nerding out, going to conferences like the international society for the study of fatty acids and lipids.

Don’t let scientists name things, but you know, whatever. It is what it is. Um, they, um, they, um. It just never came up that where the algae, where the fish were getting all their omega 3s, EPA and DHA were, were from the algae itself that they consumed. I assumed, like, um, humans or like other mammals, that the fish actually, Consumed the omega three and an alpha linoleic acid form, which is how it grows in flax oil or other plant based stuff like walnuts, right?

I assumed that they got it that way and that they had metabolic pathways that enabled them to turn that ALA into EPA and DHA. And I assume that because of what I knew about phytochemistry and humans and how our biology works. Right. Um, but since it wasn’t the case, since it was never the case, um, you know, we really could have been going to algae all along.

And this is something that, um, That the, the world of formula makers for infant nutrition, they understood early on they’ve been going to DHA from algal sources for a long, long time. And so they just take that DHA from that algae because it tends to be less fishy, doesn’t have as fishy of a flavor. Um, and then adding it to formulas for infant nutrition, um, to help the support their little baby brains because half the fat in our brain and eyes is comprised of DHA.

So if we don’t get enough, especially in those formative years, we have all sorts of learning disabilities and problems that can erupt. so we can be get going to the algae itself. And until recently we didn’t really have a really reliable source of EPA, which is the other fatty acid that is really critical from Omega threes that you would see in fish.

And so now we have the ability to do that. We have the ability to extract both EPA and DHA alkyl strains. Um, And with, in the case of Orlo Nutrition, which is the brand that I helped to create with Vaxa Technologies, um, for Vaxa Technologies, it’s their, their oil. They grow it in Iceland. We’ve been able to isolate.

EPA and the polar lipid form. So it’s an omega three in the polar lipid form and also combine with DHA so that you get a full spectrum of the fatty acids that your body needs. And this algal base that is more absorbable than what you would find From fish oil or krill oil. So the argument for a long time was go to the fish because the plant source bases aren’t as absorbable.

That was true of terrestrial plants like walnuts, flax seeds, all that jazz. They, they’re in the alpha linoleic acid form. It takes a lot of work for our bodies to actually downregulate them into EPA and DHA. So that was why we had to go fish, fish, fish, right? Well, now we can go algae, algae, algae, cut out the middle fish, let our oceans rest, let their populations replenish, and look to other sources of animal nutrition, look to other sources of protein, look to other sources for omega 3s, including algae.

This sounds expensive. I laugh because, um, it is actually amazing how, how by comparison it really isn’t. You know, you think about that because, you know, if you’re going to go and take a trawling vessel or a fishing vessel out to go catch fish, now you have, you have a fishing boat, you have people on it, you have nets that you’re using to capture the fish.

Half of the plastic waste in our oceans is abandoned fishing gear or lost fishing gear. So there’s a tax, there’s a cost on the environment, right? Um, In addition to that, you have all the carbon that you’ve expended, you, you know, operating your fishing vessels to get out there. And then you have to bring the fish back to port.

And typically it’s flash frozen on the vessel, right? Then you have to transport the fish to a manufacturing facility. And often it’s going from somewhere like South America, um, probably Peru because the Peru Anchoveta is one of the largest fishing areas. Um, so they ship that to Let’s just say Scandinavia, Norway, somewhere like that, right?

Run the processing there, run through molecular distillation. They have to distill the oil to purify it and to isolate the EPA and DHA compounds, right? And then you have to also then re esterify it, which means. They’ve broken it down into constituent pieces like EPA and DHA, but now as all these free fatty acids floating around, they’re not as absorbable in your body.

And so they have to actually use enzymes to put the glycerol backbone back to make it back in this, what they call a re esterified triglyceride. So it’s a really complicated process overall. And it’s also expensive in that you don’t end up with a yield that is the same as your inputs. There’s always a loss, right?

There’s loss with the pollutants. There’s loss because some of it isn’t as fresh as you want it to be. And so they’ve developed ways to remove the more rancid components from it so that it’s not going to be fishies, that won’t have a fishy flavor. Then there’s an addition of flavors or colorants and things along these lines to make it more palatable.

All of that to be said that in the end, you know, you’re looking at a high quality fish oil still costing you about a dollar a day. And so because we’re not going to these open ocean environments, because we’re not having to fish the fish and then flash freeze it and ship it all over the world and do all these things, because we’re able to grow algae at our facility in Iceland.

Right. Using only green energy, using led lights and a closed system with artificial intelligence used to optimize growing conditions. We can double the weight of the algae every couple of days. We can optimize it for the levels of omega three, or we can target other nutrients that we’re hoping to capitalize on.

Like with spirulina, we’re not targeting omega three, but we’re also able to target things like Transcribed by https: otter. ai Vitamin B composition and proteins and things like that. So there’s different species that we work with. And ultimately at the end of the day, now we have a product that’s grown with pristine water without the uses of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, because it’s a closed system, not an open pond where we’re able to only really work with something that’s in its purest possible state.

And then minimally process it. And all of the output can ultimately be used, whether it be the proteins isolated for protein or the omegas isolated for their omega constituents and in the polar lipid form so that they’re more absorbable by tissues. You don’t have to consume quite as much. And ultimately, what we’ve developed are two products in the omega three space, one of which is more focused on D.

H. A. The other of which is a balance of EPA and DHA, um, and each delivers between 260 milligrams and 350 of EPA and DHA combined a day. So, um, It can compete with a fish oil. It might look weaker in its potency, but if it’s three times more absorbable than the fish oil, it can go head to head, have as strong of an effect, even at that lower dose.

Kate Wallinga: Do you get people who sort of brush you off as this is another MLM, this is another scheme that kind of, you know what I’m saying? Like, you know, this is another essential oil nonsense.

Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah, not so much, but I think that’s because there’s just such a, um, significant body of research behind omega 3s that it’s, this isn’t woo woo science.

It’s real science, double blind, placebo controlled clinical studies performed in healthy and unhealthy populations for all sorts of targeted means. Um, some studies are multi, multi year, you know, decades, even long, like the Framingham study. Um, Um, really looking at what fatty acid composition does to your diet and health longterm, um, you can verify the levels of EPA and DHA you absorb by taking a simple blood spot test that costs about 50 and see how you’re faring and whether or not you need to consume more.

And so, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s not an MLM. We’re not in the world of MLM. Um, this isn’t a, Hey, you know, let me bring you into my pyramid scheme and sell the product. It’s um, Right now it’s a direct to consumer effort because we’re working to create something new, bring it to market. Um, first run was, you know, really a pilot batch and we’re nearing the end of that.

Now we have our full scale production run that’s on its way into our fulfillment center in Texas so that we can ship via ground to any spot in the United States and roughly three days without having to ship via air. And this is like built into the ethos of the company. We’re working to be the world’s first, you know, carbon neutral, if not carbon negative, um, Omega three and supplement brand.

There are elements of course, that you are guaranteed to expend carbon like transportation, um, but carbon offsets are incurred. And then we also are. building a product line with a lot of circular principles in mind. So we only sell our omegas, for example, in a refillable glass bottle that’s made from mirror on violet glass.

It’s a very expensive glass bottle, but the reality for us is that it’s worth it to make the initial investment with the first bottle because people just refill it, refill it, refill it. It’s a very durable glass. It’s black. And so it doesn’t let light through. I mean, if you hold it up to a very bright light, you can see it’s got a slight violet hue, but that means that the omegas inside are really best preserved to the point where I’d feel comfortable telling anyone they can leave it on their bathroom counter.

And not worry about it. The seal is good. So it’s not going to get moisture inside, right? As long as they screw the cap on and the visible light isn’t going to hurt it. And the soft gels themselves are dark. So the oils inside are really protected. They won’t get fishy on you. They don’t taste bad and they definitely don’t repeat back up.

So I even take mine with hot coffee and I never worry about it.

Kate Wallinga: You can offset the. the omega 3s with coffee and it’s all good.

Corinna Bellizzi: No, I, I’m a coffee. I mean, I might be as much of a coffee evangelist as I am for omega 3s. So, um, there’s a ton of research on coffee specifically for things like Alzheimer’s and, you know, it’s got some beneficial components in it.

Just don’t mix it with milk.

Kate Wallinga: Guaranteed people are standing up and cheering. right now. Like you can have my coffee when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Corinna Bellizzi: And they might be upset though, that I said, don’t take it with milk. I mean, just, it’s the reality that, um, when you take coffee and you blend it with specifically dairy milk, it negates a lot of the positive benefits because the dairy milk binds up with those constituents.

So use nut milks. You’re fine. Or drink it black. It’s hard to milk an almond though, really. Yeah. Yeah. I’m, I’ve become a fan of oat milk, um, even though I don’t really like oats that much. So it’s, it’s got a creamy texture. It’s a good replacement in my mind, but it’s not the same as milk. I, I used to love drinking milk, but I learned I’m mildly allergic.

and knowledge is power. So I’ve stopped consuming dairy products.

Kate Wallinga: I mean, knowledge is power, but also sometimes it’s really, really sad. So, you know, with

Corinna Bellizzi: the name of your podcast, I thought about that too. Well,

Kate Wallinga: you know, right. No longer blissful. I know it’s, it’s a, it’s, it’s a dangerous thing. It is. So that’s your professional life.

Does this fit with your personal life? Does this mesh in well with your lifestyle or did you have to make major changes? Well, you know,

Corinna Bellizzi: I am, I’m a hippie kid at heart. You know, I was born on a hippie commune in Ashland, Oregon, or what most would call one. It was two households side by side that shared a lot of resources.

And, you know, we had like, uh, basically micro farm in the back. And so I was like climbing on horses at three years old and being tossed from them without a lot of adult supervision, more like the kids raising the kids kind of mayhem. Um, but you know, that was life on a relative farm. Right? And so I, I’ve always been kind of closely connected to the foods and to the nutrition that I had in my life.

Um, so I, it feels like no accident in a way that I ended up being in the natural products industry and feeling like it was a home for me. But, um, the space that I’m actually most excited about now is the fact that I’ve You know, really leaned hard into this world of sustainability of working to build regenerative businesses that give back more than they take of thinking about creating systems that can be more circular and that can prove to the world that capitalism.

Doesn’t have to be made the way it has been that we can start to actually really think about the systems and the way we build things to create responsible products and to ultimately work to educate the marketplace about elegant ways to do that. And, you know, when you, when you have the liberty of creating something from the bottom up and the support of, of, visionary team of leaders who say, yes, let’s push the envelope.

I mean, I feel like I’ve been blessed with this. I started first, you know, perhaps partly be out of rebellion for being in graduate school. I, after 20 years of being in sales and marketing leadership, I chose to go to get my MBA at Santa Clara university. I thought as I was doing that, Oh, I’m going to fill gaps in my knowledge about how the finances of companies work.

And maybe I’ll decide that I didn’t belong in the natural products industry and I’m going to go work in a tech company or do something different. And all that did for me was really seal the deal and ratify that I feel like a lot of our economic systems aren’t set up to help smaller businesses succeed.

I also feel like they aren’t set up to support circularity. And so there’s some elements of how we’re building businesses that isn’t really. mindful. It’s, it’s kind of specifically built not to be mindful of where resources come from and how they have an effect on one another of, um, social impact of the choices you make from a sourcing perspective of the, um, ability therefore that a community might have to actually engage in sustainable practices because they might feel like, oh, well, my only choice is to just sell off my land for timber because I need to put food on my table and this is an immediate need and I can’t do anything else.

I mean, we’ve built so many systems for so long that are focused on this extractive principle that it’s, it’s mind numbing. And so. As I was going through graduate school and as I was taking all these classes and reading all these case studies, I’m hearing about all these wild success stories and how few of them were actually geared at trying to make a more positive impact.

I decided to launch my first podcast, which is called Care More, Be Better. It’s an invitation to care more so we can create a better world. And so I purely cover topics of social impact and sustainability there. It became this passion project that was just like engulfing my life in a way. And then in the midst of that.

This opportunity came up, I’d already been focusing in the algae space because I didn’t want to continue to contribute to extracting from our ocean resources. I’m a scuba diver. I’ve been diving for more than 20 years now. I’ve seen the health of our oceans change and the dive spots I’ve enjoyed going to.

From the Monterey Bay down to Santa Barbara’s Channel Islands to Hawaii. I’ve seen the incidence of plastics increase. I’ve seen sea turtles with massive tumors on their necks suddenly erupt and just seem to be commonplace now. And so, you know, I feel like this role with this company and building out this, um, concept and this, um, This new marketplace is essentially kind of this culmination of everything I’ve been working towards from a personal and professional perspective for the last, for my life.

So it feels like it’s where I’m supposed to be living and breathing and working right now. So much so that I made the choice to sunset another project I was working on because I just had to make more space and time for this one.

Kate Wallinga: And I mean, which is fundamentally adulting, that’s the worst, is when you find all these projects and you have to find the right one for you, but it sounds like you found it.

found what feels right.

Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. Well, it feels that way. Um, but at the same time, I was enticed to write a book about some of my, um, personal, uh, challenges in my tween years. And I started writing it and then I said, you know, I think I need to spend more time on this. So, uh, it was a question of whether I was going to make some of it fictional or do a nonfiction.

And then enough questions were up in the air that I felt like this. this isn’t ready to be baked into a cake quite yet. So I think sometimes we have to make those choices and listen to what the world is telling us, because sometimes it’s not just coming from our inside. It feels like it’s coming from the world.

And I think that’s a hard thing

Kate Wallinga: because we The phrase I use is that we should all over ourselves a lot. We spend a lot of time to tell ourselves, like, I should do this. Or I started a project where I said I was going to do a thing. So I should do that thing. But the answer is.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, yeah. And I mean, I got this question as I was going to graduate school because many people were, um, like, you know, you’re top of your game.

You’ve built some multinational companies like Nordic Naturals. You’ve, you know, worked on these really incredible projects. Why do you need an MBA? You don’t need one. I mean, I didn’t need to go to school to get my MBA. I didn’t need to spend a ridiculous sum of my savings and honestly, my kid’s college fund for a bit of, to, um, what experiment think, um, noodle different ideas.

I got the question several times, like, well, what are you planning to do with it? And, um, my response to that was, I think the same as it is today, which is really just that education isn’t always about a destination. And You know, when I’m thinking I somewhere in there, I was probably working to prove something to myself, right?

Like, okay, I kind of cheesed out on some of the academic pursuits I might’ve gone forward with when I was in undergrad, because I was so afraid of maths. Right? Then I ended up going to Santa Clara University, which I later learned is one of the more quant heavy, um, programs in the country. And I had to learn calculus like this is not something I wanted to do, but it caused me to really stretch my brain and think in new ways.

And even if it was uncomfortable in that discomfort, I was forging relationships with people I might otherwise never have met. and gaining a new sort of confidence because I suddenly was able to demonstrate that I could do well on tests, which is something I was never really good at that, you know, I could, you know, hold my weight, um, even with some of the smartest quant oriented students in my class and learn something and, you know, 10 weeks time that I thought I was not even be possible.

So I think it’s always a good thing to stretch. And if you want academic pursuit, my feeling is you should, you should go for it. I’m still considering now going back for my PhD. We’ll see if that ever happens.

Kate Wallinga: I mean, my husband’s a math teacher and he gets a fair amount of, when are we going to use this?

And the answer. You may not, like you may never be asked to solve an algebraic equation or a calculus problem. That, that, that specifically isn’t what the class is about. Sometimes it’s about problem solving or thinking or stretching your mind in ways that you didn’t think you could. And that has nothing to do with the numbers and has everything to do

Corinna Bellizzi: with the brain.

Well, and it’s, it’s something I’m starting to learn more about, which is this whole concept of relational leadership or relational understanding. So like, if we think about a challenge that we’re working to, to get through, um, sometimes you just see cause effect or cause and planned effect, right? But you don’t necessarily see what the unintended consequences might be.

And so I feel like by exercising that part of my brain more that my analytical self was kind of triggered to. Think more deeply about the cascade of potential negative effects or positive effects that could come from any decision you might make, and that’s not to put you in the position of analysis, paralysis or anything like that, because that can also happen.

It’s just to enable you to pause now and then to slow down. Think something through before you act. I feel like I’m better poised to do that now. And it feels to me like a lot of the challenges we, we find ourselves facing today are partly the consequence of not thinking about what the consequences will be from our actions, right?

Like just burn all the fossil fuels that we have. And what’s the consequence from that? Now we’re starting to look at where we get all of our rare earth minerals. And we’re talking about, and I’m not saying we as in me, but it’s more like the Royal way. People in general are talking about doing things like melting permafrost to get at rare earth minerals and big money is behind those efforts.

I recently saw an article that wants to drill into our seabeds. And then the debates around that relate to the noise and its effect on sea life. And so that’s something I start to then really want to champion is like, Hey, you know, maybe driving electric cars isn’t necessarily the end all be all solution.

And if we just put our thinking into it, if we were just really start to look at what resources are required for some of these efforts. We might be able to come up with better solutions. And if we do come up with better solutions that can perhaps store energy more efficiently and also be smaller, that don’t require all these crazy rare earth minerals that are hard to get to, then we could create some new technology.

And so I feel like we really just need to, as a populace, as people think through a little bit more what the. relationship is from from resource to consumption and how we can take, uh, whether it be business, regulatory, or even personal choices, how he might shift our, our use of those resources.

Kate Wallinga: When you, you, you brought up an interesting point, a minute ago, and you talked about the law of unintended consequences.

I think a lot of people hear that. And if they’re with the phrase they think of negative. consequences that I’m going to do a thing and here come consequences that I had no idea were going to happen and they’re bad. And that can happen. It can be good. You know, but that’s what I’m saying is that sometimes the unincumbent consequence you don’t even see, not you personally, but you as a human don’t see because you’re looking for the best.

The, the piano that’s about to drop on your head as you walk down the sidewalk, when the reality is sometimes the consequences are positive, then you have to be prepared for both directions. Like I think when people walk in with an expectation, whether that is I will get what I want or something bad will happen, you never even see the positive that comes out of it.

Corinna Bellizzi: Oh, I, I definitely agree with that. And there’s one. It’s I think relates to this and that is this whole thought of paying it forward, right? Like how we react to things I think is, is really critically important. You know, I’ve been in a car just going to a toll bridge and this is back in the days when people will still pay cash on those things.

These days that’s not really the case. It’s like everything’s automated, right? But somebody paid my, my bridge fare. You know, and the, the intended consequence was that person just wanted to have a random act of kindness and put it into the world. The things that resulted from that were positive, like my day was better.

I treated other people better. You know, these are just the simple little shifts that we can make in our day to day. And if you’re looking at the algae example, just like what I’ve been doing in my work If we can grow algae photosynthetically, we can sequester carbon. We can produce oxygen as a by product and we can feed humans and fish and people and dogs and, you know, create different types of nutrition sources that are positive so that you can actually create.

a cascade of benefits beyond the now. And so this is, this whole thinking is, is shifting us from this cradle to grave or cradle to garbage, right? To more of a cradle to cradle perspective. Like how can you breathe new life into something? There’s some really interesting work being done in the arts with people using reclaimed items to create art.

Art pieces and installations that can get people thinking about these things. But there are also ways to integrate these things into the products that we would create a really great example. And I know this isn’t a video podcast, but I just want to show you, um, this company, um, led by Scott Fulbright. He was an algae researcher.

So it just comes from the world of algae on the topic. He was thinking through, um, uh, he was just Um, and he’s, he’s, he’s pondering life as he’s shopping the greeting card aisle for a card for his grandmother for her birthday. And he’s looking at it going, huh? You know, and he’s an algae researcher. He’s getting his PhD at a Colorado university, Colorado state.

I think, right. Um, I might be getting that wrong. So don’t hold me to it. But he’s in Colorado. He’s there and he’s like, what is ink made from? Huh? Could ink be made from algae? And so he creates this company called Living Ink. And the initial prototype product that he created was actually an algae ink that was green, that you could literally send to somebody in the mail and they could put it on their window sill and a message would gradually come up because it was exposed to sunlight.

And so on day one, it just had an owl on day two, it was a happy birthday. And on day three, it would say, hope you have a great year or something to that effect. Well, now that has become still the same company living in technologies, but they only produce black ink. We use it on our packaging materials, which are made from.

A hundred percent post consumer recycled papers. So the paper is already seeing its second, third, or even fourth life because of the recyclability of paper. And now we’re using waste stream algae that makes, is made into an ink that’s used for human nutrition. Now that’s an ink, um, it’s sequestered carbon, right?

The carbon is now on the paper and that’s something that I am comfortable then composting in my garden to use as my weed fabric instead of. The stuff that you would buy from the store. And that means I’m, I feel safe using it on my strawberries and, you know, then it’s got yet another life. It’s not just being put into the recycle bin and hopefully recycled paper products are pretty much recycled these days, but if they get covered in other trash, they don’t tend to be, and then they just become garbage.

This is one of the problems of our recycling system, but, um, You know, that’s a whole different topic for another day, right?

Kate Wallinga: It’s true. I mean, it’s funny, just the past several months, I’ve been back and forth between Massachusetts and New York and the way just between those two states, the way recycling is treated differently and the way people have a different mindset if they started recycling in the 80s or 90s versus if it’s been their whole lives.

That kind of thing, it’s fascinating to me. Just how people take certain things for granted. And you know, my Kids are comfortable now in our house understanding like we have two recycle bins in our backyard and one trash bin and When my kids see neighbors who only set out a trash bin, they’re like, do you think we should make sure they know?

It’s recycling day, you know that kind of mindset and it’s like, oh, no, I’m pretty sure they know Like it’s, and it’s not, there’s only so far that it’s our business. And that, that was a question I was going to ask you is like, where do you draw the line in how much you, you know, you’ve used the word evangel, evangelist, uh, how in, where does it cross the line from evangelical to too far with any of these topics?

You mean at what point it becomes a religion? Or just too much or invasive. Just too much.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I would just say, I think I’ll go back to a conversation I once had on a podcast. I was interviewed on, Oh God, almost over a year ago now called back to basics mode. Um, and we were having a conversation about people littering on the beach.

I live in a beach town. Um, I’m in Santa Cruz County and, um, here in California. And what you’ll often see is you go to the beach and a bunch of people show up and they’ve got their lawn chairs and this, that, and the next thing, but they might suddenly start just like. It’s like they expect someone has come, is going to come and clean up after them, right?

I think it goes too far when you confront that person like it’s a problem. That’s my personal take. So how I’ve approached moments like that is say, Hey, I’m heading to the trash. Can I grab this for you? And it serves as a subtle kind of reminder that, you know, Hey, maybe there isn’t someone else here to clean up after you, but I’m not accusing them or assuming that they’re I will also say that, you know, I have a dear friend and one of my very best friends who doesn’t recycle and knowing me, this could be a little bit of a leading my daily life.

But she says simply to me, I chose not to have children. You have to, and there’s a really big point to that. Like each person adds to the problem, whether or not you intend to just by existing, you know, um, you could say you’re leading a zero waste lifestyle, which is incredibly hard to do. But, um, You know, even just going to the store to buy groceries, even if you have all your own bags, that produce arrived at the grocery store in packaging, you know, there’s nothing you can do to be completely free of this unless you really do want to go and live in the forest and be self sufficient and try to make it.

But, you know, I think we’ve gone too far when we really start to judge people. If we can, I think that’s my point through and through, it’s like that same situation on the beach. If I’m judging them for it. I have already gone too far because now I’m having a negative emotion about how they’re approaching it.

And that negative emotion is going to come through in my communication with them and the look and the glance. And then what does that do? But rise, raise a wall, a barrier between us when really I could be approaching it differently by making that simple offer. Can I take this to the trash for you?

Kate Wallinga: I don’t know. If I have the, both, attention span and capacity to reach the level of recycling and care for the earth and just good neighborship? I guess? I can’t think of the right word! But, there’s There’s a mindfulness that I want to attain, and I don’t know if I can, but since recording with Corinna, I have thought differently about things, about recycling and about fish oils and about ink than I ever thought before.

And. I’ve tried to be more careful with how I function around the house and in my life, and isn’t, isn’t that kind of the point? Magical, right? Like when you let go of your assumptions and you think and you realize there are things you can do even in the midst of doomscrolling and terror. So, Corinna, thank you so much for talking to me and You know, legitimately opening my eyes a little bit like that was magical.

And thank you guys for listening. If you haven’t seen on social media sometime over the past, I don’t know, several days, four or five, six days, I, I’m going to say a sentence that I’m still wrapping my brain around. So bear with me, but I rolled over a million downloads. That’s That’s such a big number. And thank you guys so much.

You know, every share and every download and especially every interaction that I have had with every one of you has reminded me. That I still have a relevancy in the world and that I’m not done yet, and that’s really important. That’s a super super important way to feel Because I have a lot of days when I don’t feel that way.

So thank you for that I’m also one of the featured podcasters right now on Vinny’s TiVos website. I have a podcast.com. So it’s been a, it’s been a wild week. People are paying attention and I’m, I’m shrinking and, and hiding a little bit because that’s a little bit overwhelming, but it’s so cool. So just thank you.

That’s, that’s all I got is thank you. Every time I hear from one of you, every time I know that someone is listening, even if they’re not listening for my sake, maybe especially if they’re not listening for my sake,

improves my day. And it reminds me that you don’t have to be physically able. And you don’t have to be a hearing person, and you don’t have to be who you used to be in order to still have an impact on the world. And so what you are doing, just by hitting play, it has a real life impact. You don’t have to start a podcast to reach people.

And you don’t have to climb mountains, in whatever brain way that means, in order to make somebody’s life better. So, just, uh, just, you know, you know the deal. You matter.

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