Hailing originally from Ann Arbor, Ashley Koff is an internationally-renowned registered dietician, who appears regularly on national media outlets, including Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, The Doctors, and CNN. She is frequently featured in national publications such as The New York Times, InStyle, Reader’s Digest, O! The Oprah Magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Redbook, Women’s Health, Shape, and is a contributing editor for Natural Health Magazine, the dietician for espnW, and even sits on the advisory board of Fitness Magazine.
Curiosity and a desire to get the whole story on food ingredients we consume, routinely motivates Ashley to travel around the world to explore food production and cultural influences in our food system. Yet she also maintains a private practice, regularly lectures, is a spokesperson for several national brands, and works to improve the quality of food choices in numerous outlets including on the sets of popular shows like: ABC’s Private Practice, CBS’s CSI: New York, FX’s It’s always Sunny In Philadelphia and FOX’s Bones.
BMN: What was it like growing up in Ann Arbor?
ASHLEY: We lived in a great neighborhood where everyone knew each other, and where my brothers and I could play outside until dark or bike to the grocery store with no worries. That may have been the time as much as the neighborhood, but I have fond memories of Ann Arbor. I also felt that it was a very culturally diverse place – that was great to be exposed to growing up. We made a mudslide out of the hill (bump) in our backyard and I loved the park in our neighborhood.
BMN: What are some of your other favorite places around the state?
ASHLEY: I came to love just outside of Battle Creek where we stayed at a bed & breakfast when I worked in advertising, and I love the football stadium (U of M). The whole U of M campus is awesome.
BMN: Overall, how do you think growing up in Michigan has influenced your life?
ASHLEY: It’s been very important. When working in NYC and LA I have always maintained my Midwest roots. I feel like I have stayed grounded, and love the outdoors, as well as to keep things a little more simple than they might be in the big cities.
BMN: The Great Lakes State is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation (second only to California). What is your personal favorite Michigan produce choice?
BMN: As a nutritionist, what Michigan fruit or veggie do you most recommend people incorporate into their diet?
BMN: Our state has such a food-driven economy that there is a lot of potential for nutrition-related careers. What advice do you have for kids that might be interested in pursuing such opportunities?
ASHLEY: Go for it! We need all the help we can get. Start while you are in school. Ask your school and parents to make food improvements. For example, are you offered organic milk? Do you have ketchup with high fructose corn syrup in it in your cupboard? Little steps have huge impact.
BMN: What’s the best career or life advice anybody has ever given you?
ASHLEY: My dad likes to quote Louis Pasteur, "Chance favors the prepared mind,” so I have always worked hard to be as prepared as I can be.
BMN: You seem to be an enthusiastic supporter of local purchasing movements like the Buy Michigan Now campaign. Why do you think it’s so important for people to support local businesses, and to buy locally grown and manufactured products?
ASHLEY: I LOVE local because you can know the person who is making it and support them. I would love it if our world was more barter than money-based. You would have to have skills and products to survive. That said, local is only good if it is good quality and the people have good working conditions so I support certified organic and fair trade over just “Local” to address the goal of best quality. It’s better for them, and me, and our shared world.
BMN: What Shout Out do you want to share with your friends and fans back in Michigan?
ASHLEY: Go truly Blue! That means buy organic and consume only sustainable seafood so that we protect our oceans.
Ashley recommends visiting www.seafoodwatch.org to learn more.
Photo by David Carlson