Snacks, Health, and Mindfulness with Charles Coristine of LesserEvil
We’ve been diving into what wellness means and how it relates to both a healthy body and mind. This month, we caught up with Charles Coristine of LesserEvil to discuss clean snacks, mindfulness, and your inner guru.
Charles, can you give our readers a high-level overview of what LesserEvil does and what kind of products you offer?
LesserEvil is a manufacturer of the highest quality, tastiest snacks in the world (in our opinion!). We focus on organic ingredients, minimal processing, and sustainable practices to offer better-for-you snacks that are better for the earth as well. We offer snacks that fit all different kinds of lifestyles (grain-free, vegan, kosher) and life stages, ranging from Organic Popcorn to Mini Cookies to Lil’ Puffs for toddlers and more. We take pride in doing everything ourselves, from sourcing the ingredients to manufacturing and distributing our snacks, so that we can have complete control over the entire process. It’s our goal to make cleaner, tastier snack choices more accessible for everyone.
Why and how did you get involved with LesserEvil?
LesserEvil kind of found me. I had been working as a bond trader and was feeling very burnt out by that lifestyle. At the same time, to counteract these stresses, I was getting really into a more holistic lifestyle of meditation, mindfulness practices, and eating organic food. So when the opportunity arose to purchase this snack company, I decided to give it a shot! Taking over LesserEvil seemed like an opportunity to reflect my values into something more substantial and better for the world. In a way, the company and I have grown together over the years, and a lot of my personal beliefs are woven into its foundation. Even today, leading LesserEvil never stops inspiring me to keep growing and changing.
What does “Simple acts. Clean snacks.” mean to you and the LesserEvil brand?
We believe strongly in the power of simple acts to make a big difference. For us as a company, that means making small choices – choosing our ingredients carefully, using minimal processing, choosing biodegradable packing – that add up to make a great product. We also think of “Simple acts, clean snacks” as a philosophy for our customers to live by, since choosing a healthier snack is an easy way to improve your wellbeing. Ultimately, we want our snacks to make people happy, and it’s often the simplest things that bring us the most joy.
How did you come up with the name “LesserEvil?”
The name LesserEvil predates me, but it came from the idea that customers could choose these snacks that were healthier alternatives to some of the bigger name snacks out there. We don’t really see it that way anymore, because we don’t really believe that any kind of food is “evil.” In our eyes, the name has evolved to mean that in a world that is less than perfect, there are still things we can do make a difference. For us, offering snacks that are better for the planet and better for our customers is how we can make the world a little less evil.
You talk a lot about your philosophy, gurus, and overall wellness. What does all of that mean and how does it represent LesserEvil?
My personal journey with health and mindfulness has helped inform a lot of LesserEvil’s values. I believe that our greatest gifts as humans are intuition and imagination, and I like to think of these embodied as an inner guru that lives in each of us. As a company, it’s one of our core missions to foster a relationship between mindfulness and eating in our customers. By nourishing our bodies with care and respect through healthy eating, we are better able to listen to this inner guide. I also believe that we are all on a journey of self-discovery and that there are values and principles that can help guide us. The family of Guru characters on our packaging stem from that idea, representing the various strengths that make us all unique while acknowledging our shared human experience.
In what way does sustainability play a role in your core values?
Sustainability is built into every step of our process. It starts with our commitment to using organic ingredients, carefully sourced from sustainable farms and vendors. Because we own our own manufacturing facilities, we’re able to make sure our processes are energy efficient, and we compost almost all our waste. In many ways, it’s a lot of extra work! We know that most consumers are only willing to pay a small premium for organic items, so companies that choose to use higher quality ingredients have to bear that cost. The same goes for our packaging. We don’t necessarily get paid for using our biodegradable NEO Plastic bags, but we do it anyway. It’s just who we are, and it’s how we live.
If you had one piece of advice for mindfulness and healthy living, or a life-hack, what would it be?
My ultimate life hack is definitely journaling. I think of it as a form of meditation, and I find it both therapeutic and inspiring. If you’re willing to be honest with yourself, journaling can really facilitate the journey inside. We tend to operate on autopilot, but writing things down can bring them into your conscious field and help you start seeing patterns in your behavior, so that the next time you notice a problem cropping up, you’re more prepared to handle it. For me, journaling started as a simple act, but it has led to so much more mindfulness in my daily life.
How does your products, processes, and values translate to the betterment of snackers?
I think we’re making it easier for people to make healthy choices. There are a lot of low-quality snacks out there, but at the same time, the words “healthy snacks” don’t necessarily conjure up such a tasty image for a lot of people. We take care to pick and choose every single ingredient for its nutritional value and its flavor so customers can have it both ways– healthy and delicious. I also think we try to share wholesome, holistic values with our customers, and we hope that has a positive vibrational message.
Of LesserEvil’s wide selection, what’s your favorite snack?
This is a tough one! Of course, most people know us for our popcorn, and I definitely think we do that better than anyone. But my recent favorite has been our Himalayan Pink Salt Power Curls, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about a brand new snack we have coming out soon, Sun Poppers. The Vegan Sour Cream + Onion flavor is fantastic.
I think it’s safe to say you’re revolutionizing the way products like yours are being made and what they represent. What do you think your biggest impact in this space has been?
I think one of our biggest contributions has been focusing on healthier fats. We’re really serious about sourcing nutritious, extra virgin oils, not just using whatever random vegetable is cheapest, as most snack companies do. I also think we’re really looking outside the box when it comes to finding unique ingredients. No other brand has extruded products that explore the same breadth of different ingredients, such as cage-free egg whites or upcycled pumpkin and watermelon seeds, as we do. In the future, we’re going to be exploring plant-based protein much more too.
Where do you see brands and products like yours going in the future?
With climate change being such a pressing issue today, I think the rate of change in food sustainability is going to be exponential. We have to make such drastic changes so quickly that customers are going to adopt a much healthier, cleaner way of living that will include snacking. If you’re buying an electric car, for example, chances are you’re going to be thinking more carefully about the food you’re eating and how it affects the environment. I don’t think people are going to be sitting in their electric cars eating Big Macs!
If people want to learn more about mindfulness and healthy living, where is the best
place to get started?
When I first started my exploration into mindfulness, it was listening to all of Ram Dass’s old lectures that gave me the biggest inspiration to change. His honesty, candor, and the way he spoke as someone who had gone through some tumultuous times but ended up finding himself really spoke to my heart. Meditation is still an important part of my daily routine. In terms of healthy living, I’m really a small habits guy. I find building a routine to be really rewarding, and it’s fun to see how the littlest things done on a consistent basis (5 minutes of stretching here, 10 pages of a book there) can bring the most massive changes to your life. A good place to get started is the book “Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg, which I’ve been showing to everyone I know. Big things start small and sustainable.
For LesserEvil snacks and other wellness options, get started here!