The singer Jewel grew up on an Alaska homestead, eating whatever food was raised or caught, including, naturally, plenty of seafood. That background still informs her way of life today as she manages her career, touring and family.
What were some of your favorite childhood foods?
We grew up on a bay, Catchback Bay. We ate a lot of salmon. We put out a fishing net. We got 60 king salmon once in one net. We ate a lot of fish, a lot of soups. We made our own bread, butter. … We have a large ranch in Texas. And the veterinarians and cowboys all know what they are feeding their animals for performance … but we don't really tend to do that unless you are an athlete, and it's a shame because we are all high-performance machines. It's a shame we're not really taught what good nutrition is, how to take care of our bodies.
FOR THE RECORD:
Jewel: An article in the July 19 Saturday section about musician Jewel's healthful lifestyle and advocacy for clean water said that the Alaska native grew up in Catchback Bay. She grew up in Alaska's Kachemak Bay.
Now that you don't live on a homestead, how do you keep fit?
I remember I went away to boarding school when I was 16; I got a scholarship. And suddenly I was eating processed foods, cafeteria foods. I had no idea. Oh, my gosh, I gained 10 or 15 pounds. And I really couldn't understand it, because I wasn't eating that much more. But I think it was the type of foods. And then the chores. I used to take care of the horses every day, it was just working. Not working out. That's still when I'm happiest, when I'm active. I hate treadmills, so hiking. ... And I can put [2-year-old son] Kayce on my back, and that's 35 pounds.
How do you plan to keep him healthy and fit?
I read that a child's taste buds get set by age 3 — and I do have control over what he eats until that age — so really making sure I set his taste buds. I never did get into the white carbs. Don't get me wrong — when we are at a hotel and he has a piece of toast, I don't take it out of his hands. I've tried to make sure he has a taste for healthy food. … He's never had processed sugar, never tasted ice cream yet. … He ate an octopus salad and bone marrow, and I was like, "Yay!" Broccoli I'm still dealing with.
Your latest project, a digital recipe and songbook, is an interesting combination: music and food. How do they work together?
In my family, we always sang instead of prayer before we ate. And my dad, that's how he was raised. My grandmother was an aspiring opera singer who came from Europe (with the Futurists, a sect of the Dadaist Movement in Germany). They wanted to start an artist colony in Alaska. … She went from living in modern Europe to living in a territory. She raised eight children, and music was a big part of it. I have a musical family. So to me, they go hand in hand.
You work on clean water projects. Why clean water?
A lot of people know I was homeless when I was 18. … I thought, big deal, I'll live in my car for a while till I get another job. I was drinking about a gallon a day of water, and I couldn't afford it. I grew up near a creek, and we drank out of the creek. … So I was kind of shocked that I couldn't drink the tap water. And I remember thinking what must it be like in other countries, and I thought if I am ever in a position to, I'll look into it. My life turned around, I got discovered and one of the first things I did was form Project Clean Water.