Every Sunday from 10am to 4pm, Jocelyn Ramirez holds court at Smorgasburg LA, downtown’s weekly market for food, drink and shopping. She’s selling superfood smoothies—and sustainability.
For Jocelyn—alumna and former Woodbury professor and academic advisor, artist/designer, vegan chef, yoga instructor, advocate for healthy food and a healthy planet—necessity is the mother of entrepreneurship. Jocelyn’s is decidedly not your typical MBA story; her path to business fulfillment has much more to do with a holistic view of, well, everything.
At Woodbury, she received a BFA in Fashion Design, studied Graphic Design and went on to earn an MBA in Marketing. While on the faculty, she was a ubiquitous presence on campus, teaching courses as diverse as Social Justice and Civic Engagement, Leadership in Community Building, and Jewelry Design, along with transitional courses for new Architecture and Fashion Design students.
But that’s not all. In 2015, Jocelyn founded Todo Verde, which she describes as “a mobile space inspired by Latino American flavors that provide healthy and delicious savory plant-based dishes, agua fresca, and superfood smoothies to the East Los Angeles community and beyond.” She’s definitely not winging it in the kitchen; she trained at PLANTLAB®, Matthew Kenney’s famed Culinary Institute in Venice. Todo Verde may not be mobile for much longer. Thanks to a recent Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, Jocelyn’s juggernaut is looking to lay down roots on the Eastside of L.A. in early 2019.
“Todo Verde was a concept and idea before it became a business,” she says. “I recognized the lack of healthy food in some communities, especially in southeast L.A. So many people had lost touch with native ingredients and ancestral diets, and their health was suffering as a result. That was certainly the case in my family.”
As Jocelyn explains, sustainability is integral to Todo Verde’s mission—sourcing ingredients from local vendors, using compostable plant-based and recycled packaging for products, and relying on sustainable food sources themselves. “Plant-based food is one of the best ways to keep a sustainable planet,” she says. “It’s how people can minimize their carbon footprint along with addressing fundamental health issues.”
In her view, sustainability is more lifestyle than diet. “How to grow and make this food is really a new form of activism,” she suggests. “Change happens when it feels like an integrated part of a larger movement.” That’s why Jocelyn has partnered with local nonprofit organizations to offer workshops featuring healthy food demonstrations, social media strategies, and conversations that critique the industrial food system and traditional foodways. She currently sits on the Leadership Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
For Jocelyn and Todo Verde, healthful, sustainable food is both a means and an end. “I want to be able to create spaces that embody this nostalgic feeling of home, that attract people who love their grandmother’s cooking, but who also want that feeling of now,” she says. That’s when the designer in her comes to the fore. “I look at food as art—I’ve actually got an artist on staff. How can you make food as visually appealing as the taste? There’s an entry point there, because the atmosphere is great and the food is special. It fills that gap – people feel, ‘this place is for us.”