Humans of Food: Copper + Cloves with Sarah Edwards
Taste defines culture. Food, like myths and stories and ancient heirlooms, are gems passed down to us from our ancestors. From the banana-leaf-wrapped goodness of the South to the meaty, seasoned curries of the North, India’s many diverse cultural lines are easily distinguished from one another by the foods they call their own. More than just a means of sustenance, food is an expression of emotion, a means of celebration, and a story waiting to be told. Welcome to TheVibe’s Humans of Food, a series in which we bring you authentic stories of people, cultures, places and thoughts, as told through the medium of food, and those who would make and consume it.
Meet Human of Food, Sarah Nicole Edwards, certified Health and Wellbeing Coach, and founder of Copper + Cloves. Having grown up in London, and moving to Bangalore about 4 years ago, Sarah aims to push forward the healthy lifestyle movement in India through the means of her delicious, plant-based recipes, using sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients, as well as cooking workshops, yoga brunches, mindfulness retreats and more!
“I found when I moved here that the concept of healthy continental food tended to be limp, pathetic salads smothered with mayo dressings and an over-emphasis on diets and calories,” Sarah says, “I wanted to show people that eating well- which to me means eating whole, minimally processed, locally grown plant-based foods- doesn’t mean counting calories or having off-limits foods.”
A passionate cook, Sarah’s food journey began at the age of 13, when she and her sister taught themselves how to cook, igniting their shared love of food. When asked about her earliest memory of food, Sarah paints a picture of a quaint English countryside, where she sat as a little girl, eating freshly-picked strawberries in an open field.
“My relationship with food has been a journey with many twists and turns,” Sarah reveals. “In my late twenties I realised how good I could feel when I ate whole, minimally processed foods, and my conscious awareness about eating and living more sustainably keeps growing and increasing,”
From her days as a student, sustaining on a (not-so-wholesome) diet of junk foods and midnight binges, to restrictive diets and a heavily monitored intake, Sarah explains that what truly aided her in her journey was simply to be mindful of what she allowed herself to put into her body.
“What has really helped me is the daily practice of mindfulness- and how this applies to eating, unsurprisingly called mindful eating.” Sarah explains, “Mindful eating lets go of rules and restrictions and focuses on following your intuition. This includes everything from being really slow and present when eating, to finding those small moments of blissful joy in flavour, to really tuning in to your hunger and fullness cues. This is how I practice eating each day.”
°Copper + Cloves
Founded in the year 2018, shortly after Sarah moved to India, Copper + Cloves is both a hub and a resource for those hoping to lead a more sustainable, eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. With a mission to guide and inspire, and to aid in whatever way possible, Copper + Cloves aims to help people find joy in cooking, and in eating whole, plant-based foods.
“Copper + Cloves is about celebrating foods, not limiting or restricting- delicious caramelised roasted vegetable traybakes thrown together with some local millets and a ton of herbs, wholesome stews full of pulses and deep flavours, and vibrant, hearty salads with tangy dressings,”
“Although Copper + Cloves is all about flavours and cooking styles from cultures outside of India, it’s also all about celebrating local produce. I’ve loved getting to know local growers and producers and cooking with the local fruits and vegetables, the amazing coffee grown in South India, and Indian grown hemp seeds.” Sarah explains, “I have found the food community so welcoming, authentic, and so committed to sustainability. I just wanted to share what I have found with everyone and pull my favourite local suppliers, growers and creators in one place.”
°Taking Stock of the Little Things
In a world ravaged by disease, the need for sustainability and for eco-forward, health-conscious practices has never been more apparent. As Sarah puts it, change begins with us, it begins at home, and in the seemingly irrelevant decisions we undertake on a daily basis.
“To me, it’s clear that the current situation is an invitation to change. It’s an invitation to rethink our ‘it-can-wait’ feeling about prioritising our health and a dismissive attitude to our environment.” Sarah explains. “We’ve all participated, consciously or unconsciously, in the systems, policies, behaviours and mindsets that created the perfect storm for this pandemic to take hold. I don’t think we should hold judgement or single specific people or countries out to place blame – but rather just increase our own awareness around where we could make a change, and then start small,”
With a host of workshops, mindfulness retreats, yoga sessions and more, Copper + Cloves aims to revolutionise not only how we eat, but also how we live. When asked what advice she’d give to someone hoping to lead a healthier, and more eco-forward lifestyle, Sarah emphasises the importance of the little things.
“Start small! As a Health Coach, this is what I advise all of my clients.” Sarah says, “Don’t try and change everything at once and don’t create a dichotomous narrative of being ‘good’ or being ‘naughty/bad/sinful’. Do a 5-minute meditation, do 10 jumping jacks, eat one extra serving of vegetables, buy a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. Small, small changes shift things in a big way over time. No self-judgement along the way!”
The future is bright for Sarah and Copper + Cloves, with the opening of their first-ever café, a farm-to-table plant-based concept full of flavour packed delicious food in partnership with trusted supplier The Organic World. We can’t wait to get a taste!
Q: What’s on your Spotify/Apple Music playlist right now?
A: My weekly dance class instructor makes a playlist and it keeps me going through the week- it is a mixture of early 2000s pop and R&B, current pop, Bollywood and remixes and I love it, it’s so fun! She’s amazing.
Q: What have you been binge-watching while in isolation?
A: I’m not really a binge-watcher but I loved The English Game, it is the story of how football became a national sport in Victorian Britain and it’s a heart-warming story, if a little cliché. But I’m a football fan, and I loved seeing the old-fashioned British scenes.
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: I just read American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins- shocking story of South and Central-American migrants trying to reach North America to escape violence and poverty. It was a really disturbing account of the dangers of the migration route and it was pretty haunting.
Q: What is your ‘Last Supper’ meal?
A: I’ve been waiting for so long for someone to ask me this question! I would start with some really caramelised mushrooms and leeks sautéed with thyme and my new favourite thing in the world, vegan mozzarella made by an amazing producer in Bangalore, Angelo’s vegan cheese. It’s amazing. All piled up on some freshly baked sourdough.
Then for main course some homemade crispy ragi dosa with gunpowder podi and an array of amazing chutneys.
For dessert, it would have to be something chocolate- some kind of dark chocolate and orange tart.
Q: What is your go-to midnight snack?
A: Sorry to be boring but I never eat at midnight. It’s really not great for your circadian rhythms to eat late at night. I like to finish eating earlier and leave at least 3 hours before sleeping for a really good night’s sleep!
Q: Favourite comfort food?
A: Right now it would be some kind of delicious dip – like freshly made guac or spicy hummus- with dosa chips- which is simply leftover dosas cut up into triangles and baked for literally 5minutes in the oven with a bit of salt and chilli powder.
Q: What is your favourite meal, to cook and to eat?
A: My favourite meal to cook is a big Moroccan style chana stew. I love the slow and unfussy process of it- toasting the spices, caramelising the onions, slow-cooking the tomatoes and chana for hours. Served with some fresh sourdough and some lightly dressed leaves. My favourite meal to eat is a Sri Lankan feast cooked up my aunt.
Q: Cat person or dog person?
Q: Favourite ingredient to cook with?
A: Right now, I’m loving preserved lemons. Over lockdown, I got really into fermenting and preserving things- and these are so easy to make – just lemons and salt fermented at room temperature for weeks. They taste so good blended up into North African style stews and pastes- chermoula (a blend of preserved lemons and spices ) marinated brinjals is one of my favourite go-to easy-yet impressive dishes. But I go through phases with different ingredients!
Q: Cuisine you have always wanted to try cooking?
A: I feel Malaysian or Indonesian, I love the style of food and flavours!
Q: Cold pizza or hot pizza?
A: Cold pizza is surprisingly good but a freshly baked pizza out of the wood-fired oven is just unbeatable.
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