Terri Nackey of La Bella Terre

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This week in Chef Chat we're heading out of the kitchen and into the garden for a chat with Terri Nackey, an "eco-ista" and founder of La Bella Terre, a formulator, manufacturer, and distributor of botanically-based products. Nackey, who also teaches classes in seasonal organic cooking, will be sharing her line of botanically scented sugars and discussing the benefits of eating locally grown food.

Nackey left the corporate world in 1986 to persue a career as a massage therapist. Since, she's attended the South West School of Healing Arts to study holistic nutrition and explored everything from master gardening and aromatherapy to molecular biology and of course, the culinary arts.

"I'm a culinarian as well; I love good food. What goes in the body, goes on the body," says Nackey.

Get the rest of Nackey's story after the jump.

Grandma's garden 

Where I can tell you it originates from, truly, is my grandmother's garden. We were picking strawberry colored rhubarb when I was about four and I don't remember my life before that. I'll never forget when we picked the rhubarb and then we went across the street to Mozie's house to go get the little Irish new potatoes--out of a barrel and we had all these little baskets...we went back to my grandma's and we literally started cooking and when I ate dinner that night I just went, "Oh Grandma, what are we going to do tomorrow?" And she said, "Well, I don't know yet but it will be all good ingredients."

In the blood

My name Terri means harvester. In old Greek it means harvest. So I suppose, that's my thing. I don't like bugs and I don't know how I ended up... I loved my Chanel counter girl when I went through my preppy phase to you know what I kind of really don't care if I have manicured nails anymore. It's just all about good soil equals good food.

From soil to sugar

I tell people, "If you're going to have heroin, you may as well have the best stuff." And what I mean by that is, sugar gets a bad rap but the kind of sugar that's in the base of my product is a sugar cane that's been naturally processed so there are still trace minerals that are left in my product. It's an organic origin and then what I do is I add botanicals. I'm using the product from the trees, the product from the fruit and that's how there are such magical scents.

A school of thumb

I feel I have something important to say and it really is about what the benefits are of the plants in our lives. There's something magical between the DNA of the human body and the RNA of plant cells and how they work together...and I'll tell you, the easiest way to understand this is when we bring something into our body that has been altered, it comes in the brain goes "Hmm I don't recognize this, I better go store it for later use," and that's why we have so much inflammatory disease, heart disease. So the purer, the more refined, the closer to the whole food, the better.

Check back tomorrow to hear what Terri has to say about organic cooking and Mother Nature's hints in what and how we should be eating.

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