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I met Jessica Catalano a few years back when I was the Managing Editor at SKUNK Magazine where she was and remains their Food Columnist. I was a big fan of her beautiful book The Ganja Kitchen Revolution. I was fascinated by her concept of strain specific healing with beautiful foods whose colors alone evoke intense excitement. Having been the grateful recipient of her delectable creations, she does us cannabis enthusiasts proud with her complex and sophisticated talents. As is true with many in the fast-paced growth of the cannabis industry, Jessica has been courted hard by media and was recently filmed by VICE and that’s after she was mentioned in Vogue in a special feature about cannabis in cuisine. She teaches cannabis cooking classes and recently was part of a team that provided a fine infused meal for Snoop Dogg and his crew up at the X-Games. She’s one kick ass chick who enjoys shredding the powder in the Rocky Mountains with her husband Erik “Sexypants” Hansen, something everyone, even her parents call him. Jessica is a spiritual, animal-loving, sporty, laid back and very hardworking goddess of cannabis. We are pleased to introduce you to Jessica and her beautiful life.
LADYBUD: You make strain specific cannabis cuisine to treat various conditions. Can you tell us a little bit more about that for the uninitiated?
JESSICA CATALANO: Cannabis and I have had a long love affair since ’97 when I was introduced both to the world of smoking, and shortly after, edibles. I started experimenting with strain specific cooking and baking in 2009, but did not go public with a blog until 2010. I pioneered the idea and practice of infusing terpenes into cooking and baking via strain specific recipes to elevate the flavors in the edibles that I create. What this means is that I use specific strains in specific recipes to enhance the flavor profiles of the dishes I construct. For example, Lemon Kush can be paired with Vietnamese Spring Rolls. By doing this, the Lemon Kush will impart a lemony taste with floral and mint undertones, which deepens the flavors in this dish because of the similar taste profiles already present in the ingredients.
You are basically treating each strain as an herb with its own unique flavor profile and pairing them with dishes that have either complementary or analogous flavors. This helps patients to understand the importance of flavor profiles in the recipes they create at home for a more enjoyable experience, and that cannabis food can actually taste delicious if done correctly. But it does not stop there; strain specific cooking also teaches people how each strain will affect their bodies medically. Lemon Kush is an Indica Dominant Hybrid with a strong pain relaxing effect while also bestowing a pleasant uplifting cerebral effect. This is a perfect strain to treat anxiety, depression, muscle tension, and pain relief, as well as insomnia.
LB: Your book The Ganja Kitchen Revolution is available on Amazon and published by Green Candy Press — how was the process of creating a book, and getting it out to the public?
JESSICA: I had the blessing of being approached by a publisher with a book offer based on my blog. The Ganja Kitchen Revolution was a blog first before a book, where free strain specific cannabis recipes were uploaded weekly for the public. I wanted to share my recipes and journey with people in the hope that if it worked for me medically to treat my chronic migraines, then my findings would help someone else in need. I also wanted to teach people that cannabis could also be treated like a herb to enhance the flavors of their edibles while also teaching them the importance of the medicinal benefits each strain possesses. So began the process of creating a book proposal followed by a contract, and then the production of the book.
Green Candy Press is a truly amazing publisher and I stand by them 100%. Their team has been nothing but a pleasure to interact with, and includes some of the most talented and passionate people I know. The book itself took three years to create from writing to final editing and proofing before it went to print. The process itself took a lot of hard work and long hours, but the final product was well worth all the sleep deprived nights. After that, it was all about magazine interviews, book promotions, radio interviews, book reviews in publications, speaking at events or on the radio, spreading by word of mouth, getting it into stores such as Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Sears, and others to get it out onto the market.
LB: What role does cannabis play in your daily life?
JESSICA: Cannabis is my medicine therefore it has a huge role in my day-to-day life. I grow my own medicine in a private garden in the mountains and make my edibles from that. I grow from seed, clone all my own plants, veg and flower them, say a prayer of respect before cutting them down, and cure my own medicine. My husband has the joy of trimming the plants for me as it brings him great pleasure. I treat the plants like children, play music for them, hang out and hug them, shower them in love, and just bask in their energy. I find when you treat a plant as an equal and love them as if you would love another, truly amazing medicine is created. If you don’t believe plants can respond to their environment, start with the book “The Secret life of Plants” and then move on to the studies that have been done to measure these theories, quite interesting.
Cannabis has truly saved my life, as it has been a safer alternative to pharmaceutical drugs to treat my Chronic Migraines. With this condition and without cannabis, I would have 15 or more migraines a month. Thankfully, with a prophylactic edible treatment (an edible before bed each night), I can keep these episodes at bay. This treatment also helps with managing my anxiety from PTSD and depression associated with Chronic Migraines.
LB: Your writing for Ladybud and SKUNK Magazine focuses primarily on fine cannabis cuisine but there are also some spiritual elements inherent in your writing. What role does spirituality play in your life and in your work?
JESSICA: Spirituality has a huge role both in my life and my work. The articles “Cannabis And Christianity: Why I Believe Jesus Would Oppose The Drug War” and “Crow Medicine: Exploring Spirituality with Cannabis” for Ladybud Magazine delve into this importance. Also, #MetaphysicalSunday which I run on my Instagram account, explores the connection of spirituality and cannabis. I do not associate myself with organized religion but have rather set out on my own set of beliefs based on deep spiritual experiences and my own connection with God.
If I had to define myself in terms of spirituality, I would say that I am a New Age Esoteric Christian with Shamanic influences. I don’t believe gay people go to hell or that animals are soulless creatures or that the bible is the exact word of God. People need to understand that the bible was inspired by God but interpreted by humans; therefore, by taking the bible word for word, you are missing the point. Not to mention, various texts have been altered or omitted all together. I think the gnostic Gospel of Saint Thomas, where a disciple of Jesus Christ recorded Jesus’ hidden direct words while he was alive, is quite moving.
I don’t need to go to a church to experience spirituality; I see it every day in nature, through animal spirit guides (direct messengers of God), prayer, meditation, forms of hyper awareness such as clairsentience or visions, and events around me. I am open to all forms of communication and divine inspiration as I realize this world is more complex than science or mathematics can explain. My spiritual life path helps to attune me to the right inspirations to channel and express it through my art which will help people for the greater good.
LB: You are an avid outdoors enthusiast – this flies in the face of uninformed assertions that “cannabis people are lazy.” How often are you outdoors and what kinds of activities interest you?
JESSICA: I am outdoors every day as I feel it is extremely important to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Not enough people get outside to enjoy nature, and unfortunately suffer the consequences of this such as weight problems, lack of appreciation for nature or wildlife, inability to decompress, and becoming seriously ungrounded to name a few. I actively engage in snowboarding, hiking, running, kayaking, taking long contemplative walks, swimming if I am near the ocean or long walks on the beach at night, and free climbing rock faces to find small rocks to take home.
LB: Who are your cannabis mentors and how have they affected your work for the better?
JESSICA: My father, mother, and sisters have each had their own relationship and experiences with cannabis in their lives; therefore they are always ready and willing to guide me when I need it. Even if I don’t ask for guidance or an opinion, they are not shy to express their thoughts or feelings. Andrew, Jack, and Heather from Green Candy Press have also been a rock for me. These seven people have helped me tremendously, as they have all offered excellent advice which has impacted a positive note in my work.
LB: What does your typical week involve with all that you balance?
JESSICA: Making sure my true love is well-fed and taken care of, being an untraditional housewife while running the household, taking care of my fur and feather babies, taking care of my plants, cooking and baking, writing articles and creating recipes for magazines, fighting for the normalization of cannabis, teaching cannabis cooking classes or doing events with Cultivating Spirits, press associated with my book or blog, social media, time with family and friends, working on my third and maybe final degree, daily exercise outdoors, spiritual connections, and finding time for myself.
LB: What are your favorite cannabis sites, media and companies and why?
JESSICA: SKUNK Magazine, Ladybud Magazine, HIGH TIMES Magazine, Twirling Hippy Confections, The Emerald Cup, High Times Cannabis Cup, Cultivating Spirits, High Country Healing, NORML, Parents 4 Pot, Green Candy Press, Stickyguide, and Green House Seed Company are a few of my favorites (as the list is quite extensive). These companies and sites are in it for the right causes: heart, soul, and passion for cannabis.
LB: You’ve recently been in lots of news coverage for the work that you do, what were those stories about and where did they appear?
JESSICA: I was in the Aspen Times Weekly for the X Games 2015: Native Roots Tree House event Cultivating Spirits did (as well as cooking for Snoop Dog), Explore Summit Spring 2015, Stoner Girl of Winter 2015, Jodie Marsh On Drugs Premiering on TLC UK March 25, AJ+ Documentary – Altered State: Colorado’s Marijuana ‘Green Rush’, Vogue Magazine September – A Vogue Editor Cooks with Pot, Brazil’s Carta Capital Magazine –Maconha na mesa, Associated Press – Cannabis Cuisine Rises In Wake Of Legalizations, and various articles in the Summit Daily Local News, Buzzfeed among others. The news coverage has been about my strain specific cooking as well as my work with Cultivating Spirits.
LB: How has media exposure with mainstream news helped your work?
JESSICA: It has opened up the conversation between people to start talking about cannabis through a vessel (food) everyone can relate to. Conversation is a great catalyst for change. Many people have come up to me to tell me that my book helped them not be afraid of trying cannabis edibles because of the comprehensive information contained within the book such as the dosing chart and medical benefits, while others have come up to me to thank me for educating the culinary world on strain specific cooking, baking, and teaching people the different flavor components of different strains. For many, it inspired them in new ways in the kitchen whether from my book, magazine articles, or cooking classes. When people recognize you on the street or on the chairlift, and the first thing that they do is thank you for helping them make dank edibles that help with their ailments, you know you have contributed something special to this world.