By Kella Rodiek The Daily Republic, Mitchell, S.D.
Mitchell native Teri Rose believes in the power of prevention.
Rose, a master of science and licensed nutritionist, knows the importance of eating with perspective and purpose. And she believes in the power of produce.
Her Minneapolis-based business, Perfectly Produce, was born of these beliefs, and it has become the platform by which she lives out her passion. Through an intense dedication to health and well-being, Rose has developed a weight loss program and nutrition service that she hopes will revolutionize modern health care.
She was recently featured on the cover of HERLIFE magazine and was named by Minnesota Monthly magazine as Best Nutritionist in the Twin Cities in 2011, only a year after starting her business.
Despite her notable success, Rose says her heart has never left Mitchell. She explained that the community was critical to her career, and that the style of her upbringing continues to directly influence her work day after day.
'Preventative power' Rose, a 1990 graduate of Mitchell High School, recalls a "forced frugality" that was simply the norm during her childhood.
"A lot of our parents were second-generation immigrants and they did things -- the right things -- because it was frugal and wise at the time, rather than basing actions off of what's trendy," she said. "And I'm really proud that I was exposed to that type of mentality where you just did the basics."
She connected this to a grad school assignment while attending Bastyr University in Seattle, where students were asked to share childhood home remedies. Upon asking her mother, Carol Smith, for examples, Rose discovered very few remedies were needed.
"I didn't recall taking medicine, and I never really got sick," Rose said, "But I've learned today about the preventative power that was in my mother's everyday home cooked meals."
As a young girl, Rose didn't like getting forced to help prepare these meals. She resisted "with all her might," but now is extremely grateful.
"We're seeing all these new studies coming out about kids who come back from college wishing they were better prepared with basic-living skills. And even some of the clients that I work with, women in their mid-40s and 50s, feel so helpless in the kitchen," Rose said.
Appreciation for food production, influence The agricultural roots of the Mitchell community also had a dramatic impact on Rose, who said that knowing first-hand the families involved in food production gives her an immense appreciation for the practice. Through her business, she tries to integrate Mitchell's culture and ideals toward food.
"I remember going to my grandparents' farm, and they used every part of the animal, and that's something I try to incorporate," Rose said, giving the example of making homemade bone stock, or broth. "This allows us to increase the quality of our diet while bringing down the budget."
Rose tipped her hat to the Mitchell education system as well.
"My cross country coach got me interested in how food translates into the way your body performs and why nutrition has a direct influence on us. Suddenly it has more of a purpose than just how you feed yourself; you want to manipulate how you can run or how you feel," she said.
Home-economics class was another in which Rose said valuable life skills were taught, noting that Mitchell teachers excelled at helping students understand how those skills would be used later on in life.
Getting started After college, Rose recognized a desire to start her own business, but needed to find a way to put the pieces together.
This journey sent her to Chicago, where managing a Starbucks fueled her business hunger, and jobs in ad sales and publishing exposed her to hunger of another kind. She worked with Kraft Foods and participated in research that focused on the mealtime obstacles and struggles faced by families.
This propelled her to pursue nutrition more intensely and eventually to write and develop her very own weight loss and wellness program.
Her educationally driven program teaches clients the purpose behind their food, as well as how to actually prepare healthy meals.
"When people have those skills, we've got a better chance at sustainable health changes," Rose said, "Because not only is making the right choices hurdle number one, but knowing how and why to make those choices is hurdle number two."
She said the objectives of her company are, first and foremost, to increase diet quality through the use of whole foods and produce.
"Singlehandedly, if there's one nutritional change that I'd want people to make, it would be to increase their servings of produce ... especially the variety," she said. "That's where the magic happens. That's what supplements can't mimic."
Rose has learned that when people focus more on the good things they can add to their diet, the things they shouldn't eat often get naturally displaced.
The lifestyle and behavioral component of her program educates clients on the importance of stress management, physical activity and how to form new dietary patterns.
"We help people override the 'reward' system of instant gratification and find patterns that support their health goals rather than derail them," she said.
Rose said that Perfectly Produce is able to provide comprehensive education on the purpose of foods. The business includes herself, two physical trainers, a therapist and a culinary instructor.
She explained that her graduate training program emphasized the therapeutic benefits of whole foods, which is something she tries to provide her clients.
"Not only did we learn what Vitamin A was," she said, "we learned why the Vitamin A found in squash, for instance, is more therapeutic than taking it in a supplement ... or why an orange is better the way it's packaged compared to taking Vitamin C itself."
CARE Her program, called CARE, began as strictly Web-based, but she later added an in-person version, which allows for increased accountability and greater personalization.
With modest beginnings spurred on by a hope to reach and improve the health of the people she grew up with -- family, neighbors, friends in the Mitchell area -- Rose is ambitiously reaching forward with her company goals.
Through CARE, she hopes to show effectiveness in long-term weight loss and dietary patterns for greater than 12 months.
"Once we do that, I want to get CARE to the point where it can be covered by insurance companies, so they can provide it to the insured and reduce health care costs," Rose said.
In continuing to lay the groundwork, she has been collaborating with a health clinic in the Twin Cities to hopefully integrate the program on a clinical level and, according to Rose, there is even a national gym chain that is interested in providing her services to its members.
She explained that competing with well-known companies like Weight Watchers and Slimgenics, as well as the multitude of free fitness and weight loss blogs, presents a challenge, but she believes wholeheartedly in the ability of her company to stand out and make a difference.
"Ours is still a true educationally-driven program versus something like Weight Watchers where you're just taught to count points."
And, she said they have the edge over the sea of blogs when it comes to marketing to insurance companies, because her care comes through a private and trusted platform directed by a licensed professional.
Comparing her program to the new trend of telecare, Rose explained that technology is critical for cost effectiveness and reaching large groups of people, but that it's not the only way her clients save money.
"Our program pays off through decreased medical costs in the long term ... and when you eat the right amount and control portions, it becomes easier to afford better quality foods," she said. "But it's also teaching people that frozen produce is just as nutritious, so they can take advantage of savings that way, as well as by incorporating plant-based protein sources, which are cheaper than meat," Rose said, pointing out that it all comes back to the frugality mentality she grew up on.