It's a bountiful life: Catering to better health
Sept./Oct. 2012 California Bountiful magazine
Interview and photo by Trina Wood
Health advocate dons chef's coat.
Caterer Betsy Hite grows many of her own ingredients.
After spending 30 years working on health policy legislation, Betsy Hite now runs Elegant and Easy Gourmet, a catering business in the Sacramento Valley.
What convinced you to follow your dreams and change careers?
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1999—the same year my oldest daughter graduated high school and I started catering on the side. Through word of mouth, my catering business grew and I took a leap of faith in 2007 to do that full time. I'm loving it! I don't know without the cancer scare that I would have taken that leap.
Where do you feel you've made the most impact on health policy?
When I worked for the American Cancer Society back in the '80s, I helped run the Proposition 99 tobacco tax campaign on a shoestring budget and we won! Later I wrote the mammography and breast reconstruction legislation and the smoking ban on airlines.
Is it true you grow much of your produce and herbs for the meals you cater?
Yes. My dad was a city kid and decided he wanted to become a farmer so his kids could experience farm life—growing vegetables, raising pigs, cattle, horses, turkeys, chickens, everything. Even now, I love to see a crop go from bare dirt to harvest. What I can't use immediately from the garden, I can or preserve.
Where did you get your green thumb?
My mom was a terrible cook, but a wonderful gardener. She cooked everything to death, but had a great understanding of blending herbs in unusual and tasty ways, like using dill and cayenne on green beans. She wasn't afraid to experiment.