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Founder Spotlight: Dina

G: Who are you and what’s your background?

D: My name is Dina. I moved from New York City to Melbourne in 2015 and haven’t left since!

My background is in teaching meditation and movement for many years. I am also trained as an end-of-life doula, where I educate the community on death positivity and provide practical tools and techniques to navigate uncertainty in life. I believe this passion for self-awareness through every stage of life has inevitably influenced how I eat and view food.

I love cooking, learning about interior design, doing my home yoga practice and singing in my downtime. Being in nature is my happy place; I especially connect with the forest landscapes in Victoria and the desert landscapes in southern California (where I grew up). Some of my new hobbies are learning about the magic of keeping bees and creating a medicinal herbal garden.

G: Why did you get into the olive oil industry?

D: Being a part of Goldi is a direct product of my personal experience learning about the healing power of food, cooking and healthy eating.

After years of living in big cities like New York City and Los Angeles, I moved to Australia. In this transition, I noticed more allergic reactions to food and chronic digestive issues. In trying to resolve these issues, I understood the only real “cure” was to educate myself on the source of my food so that it could inform my decisions on what, how and when to eat. It resulted in me getting more in touch with my body and learning to eat intuitively and calmly, rather than as a coping mechanism or afterthought.

The result involved a lot of slowing down - including eating and cooking distraction-free - to get back in touch with how I was nourishing myself. I went from cooking less than 20% of my meals and feeling sick most of the time to eating over 90% of home-cooked meals, getting educated about the role the microbiota plays in having a healthy mind and body and experiencing more joy in my life because of decreased discomfort.

When my sister-in-law, Janine, asked me if I’d like to collaborate on Goldi, it was a no-brainer as I was already making a conscious change to using high-quality staple ingredients (like olive oil) in my everyday cooking.

G: What is the most exciting thing about food?

D: What inspires me most about food is how healing it can be, including some of the medicinal properties that various plants have and how plants have been used throughout history.

I also find using local, high-quality ingredients to create simple, nourishing food incredibly inspiring. Cooking my meals with the best ingredients enhances the flavours of my cooking and makes the simples dishes stand out. It also feels empowering to know that I have played a part in most of the process of the dish, knowing exactly how it was prepared. This gives me more appreciation for my food and where it comes from.

G: What’s your favourite Goldi product and why?

D: It is hard to choose just one! I absolutely love the Punchy olive oil. Truthfully, I use it for everything. I love its hearty flavour and freshness. It gives all of my meals a more distinct taste and brings out the flavours of anything I put it on.

G: What makes you so passionate about food?

D: It is a way for me to have more sovereignty. It gives me a way to opt out of the industrial-agricultural complex that has become so harmful to our societies, guts and humanity’s relationship to nature.

To me, the topic of food has become more of a social justice issue in many ways. For this reason, I am very passionate about empowering others to learn about where their food comes from, as I feel this is one of the ways to become more connected to nature and its cycles. With knowledge, people can then be more conscious of their food choices.

G: What impact has healthy eating had on your life?

D: Ultimately, it has allowed me to have more energy and balance in my body. I now have more love for food and self-love due to giving my body nutrient-rich, bioavailable ingredients.

Choosing to eat healthier and cook my meals at home meant that I had to reshape my lifestyle and context, which I previously had around food. I now have a slower pace in my life, where I consider the time and effort required to make and cook my food without rushing.

My partner and I now shop primarily at farmer’s markets and are shifting to growing more of our own food. Overall we have more appreciation for food and nature due to eating healthier and knowing where our food comes from.

G: Who are some people that inspire you?

D: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan opened my eyes to how the food industry works. I think he is an excellent orator and expresses his ideas sensically.

I love Samit Nosrat’s approach to food and cooking and find her intuitive construction of recipes enlightening.

Finally, my ancestors are a massive inspiration to me. Turning to recipes from my ancestral countries and traditions has allowed me to get more in touch with my roots and provided an ability to understand my body on a deeper level. This has been incredibly informative and healing.

G: What’s your favourite meal to cook at home?

D: I love cooking fesenjan, a traditional Persian dish (in some ways, it's like a curry when served with tahdig or basmati saffron rice). The main ingredients are pomegranate molasses (one of my favourites), walnuts, lots of aromatic spices, and olive oil as a base (Goldi’s Punchy EVOO, of course). I can never get sick of the unique, satisfying, umami twirl of flavours. This dish is really like a dance party in my mouth.

G: What are some inspirational resources that have profoundly impacted how you view cooking and food?

  • D: Kiss the Ground - I love the message of this film. It gave me hope and was very inspiring in terms of growing my food and learning more about soil health.
  • Retrosuburbia by David Holmgren - I think David Holmgren is a genius in the simplicity and integration of permaculture as an alternative model of living, which includes an approach to food that encourages s greater awareness of the environment.
  • Any text by Yotam Ottolenghi - The recipes have such a beautiful balance of flavours and creativity.
  • Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid - I love the storytelling in this book. It brings me closer to the ways of my ancestors (as I was born in Azerbaijan and have Armenian heritage, both formerly part of the Persian Empire).
  • The Chef’s Table series on Netflix - I appreciate the cinematography and the storytelling of this series. It also made me want to cook more!
  • Kurzgesagt - In A Nutshell YouTube channel - This channel has excellent information compiled in beautiful animations, including topics related to human civilisation, agriculture and food.

G: What impact do you hope Goldi makes on peoples’ lives?

D: I hope Goldi products inspire people to cook more at home and provides a deeper connection to and responsibility for their well-being.

I also hope Goldi inspires people to learn more about where their food comes from. As a result, people might choose to support local and environmentally minded producers.

G: How do you incorporate Goldi products into your life?

D: I literally use Goldi olive oil in most of my meals. I even started putting it on my skin during the dry summer months!

Every night when I make a salad, the base of most of my dressings include one of our oils and Aceto balsamic vinegar.

G: What does a day in your kitchen look like?

D: For breakfast, I usually have oatmeal, or if I am in the mood for something savoury - I make buckwheat drizzled with Goldi EVOO and pink salt flakes.

My partner and I cook together for dinner and usually make something more unique with fresh ingredients we’ve just gotten from the market. We also make a salad or roasted veggies with ingredients from our garden on most occasions.

G: Why should consumers support women-led businesses?

D: Women-led businesses are important because they give a platform to women in industries that are traditionally male-dominated. They allow an alternative narrative to be presented to the public and allow women’s voices to be heard. This allows more women everywhere to feel that they are not merely an under-represented minority.

Consumers should support women-led businesses because it supports equality in society as a whole.

G: If you could give a piece of advice to people today about food or healthy eating, what would it be?

D: Learn where your food comes from and how it is prepared. Support local producers and companies. Next time you buy food or order takeout (or, truthfully, any product), ask yourself if it has been made with love and how much of an environmental impact the food on your plate has had.

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Goldi acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live and work. Our groves in Victoria in the Shepparton region sit on the land of the Yorta Yorta people, and in the Limestone Coast in South Australia, we operate on the land of the Ngarrindjeri and Booandik people. Goldi is committed to supporting these communities for our business operating on these lands.