Shattering Wellness Elitism: Gunnar Lovelace’s Mission to Make Healthy Food Affordable For Everyone

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“It’s absolutely incumbent upon us to envision a world where we produce food that is good for the planet and is good for our bodies and is affordable for everybody. And if we can do that we will pass a world along that is regenerative, sustainable, and equitable.”

Gunnar Lovelace


Who has time for ‘wellness’? I’m just trying to pay the bills.

I would love to eat healthy, but I simply can’t afford it.

When it comes to great food – plant-based or otherwise — the common refrain is that its either too expensive, inconvenient or simply unavailable. Often it’s all of the above. Although I often rebut several myths that swirl around these arguments, it’s undeniable that there is much truth in these assertions. Whole Foods has earned the moniker Whole Paycheck for a reason. If we want to truly redress our health care problems, we need to lay ruin to the elitism that so unfortunately undermines populist accessibility to optimal nutrition.

In order to achieve this end, we must disrupt traditional supply chain methods. Combat special interests that entrench the status quo. Eliminate overpaid middle men. And leverage forward-thinking innovation to improve access, convenience and affordability to healthy food beyond the well healed for those who need it most — everyone.

Gunnar Lovelace to the rescue.

Yes, that is his real name. A life-long wellness advocate reared on a true-to-life commune by a single mom, Gunnar inherited his passion for health, yoga, mindfulness and expanded consciousness at birth — long before it became a zeitgeist thing. 

Gunnar and I go way back. Years before my personal transformation. I still vividly recall our initial meeting when he walked into my law office in 2000 to discuss representation of his venture of the moment, GoodLife – an early internet socially conscious Yelp. On his feet were sandals. In his hand? A large mason jar filled with a mysterious and murky green sludge. What is that? Who brings something like that to a meeting with a lawyer? My very first glimpse of what I did not know at the time would later become a staple of my life.

Well ahead of its time, GoodLife fell victim to the dot-com bubble of the early aughts. But a long-lasting friendship survived.

A serial entrepreneur, now Gunnar is back and on to something big — very big — as the founder and co-CEO of a new business that represents a seismic shift in affordable access to healthy food — Thrive Market.

The digital love child of Costco and Whole Foods, Thrive is a direct to consumer, online shopping club platform that offers over 4,000 of best, healthiest, most popular natural and organic food brands in the world, but at a staggering 25-50% off typical retail prices, shipped anywhere in the United States for free.

How do they do it? By eliminating all the aforementioned middle men — the brokers, slotting fees and pay-to-play that is endemic in the food industry — and passing that savings along to members. In addition, for every paid membership to Thrive ($60 / year), they give a free membership to a low income family, a teacher, or a military vet.

Although founded less than two years ago, Thrive is growing incredibly fast. Beyond notable seed investors like Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra, this past summer they closed a $30M Series A round of venture funding led by Greycroft with participants like John Legend, Toby Maguire & Demi Moore. These funds are already hard at work fulfilling Thrive’s mission statement, which is to make healthy living easy and affordable for every American family. Good news for everyone.

Not your typical startup founder, Gunnar’s keen business acumen inhabits the ethos of a yoga teacher. He’s got a huge heart. He’s one of the good guys. And I am super proud of what he is building — a positive, quantum shift in the socio-economic fulcrum to broaden healthy food access for all.

NOTE: Just in case you are wondering, this is NOT a paid endorsement of Thrive. Based on our long-standing friendship and consistent missions, Gunnar and Thrive graciously contributed to our cookbook pre-order campaign last May. However, I have no financial involvement or relationship with the company. I simply appreciate Gunnar and have been wanting to get him on the show for a long time. That said, and in complete transparency, in the aftermath of my conversation with Gunnar we have discussed the possibility of Thrive sponsoring future episodes of the podcast, which I would welcome given the simpatico nature of our shared interests.

This is a a great conversation that spans a variety of general topics, including entrepreneurship, social responsibility, conscious capitalism, the current state of health in America and solving the problem of providing easy and affordable access to healthy food for everyone. Specifics include:

  • the life of a startup founder
  • productivity & wellness routines
  • growing up in a group living scenario
  • leveraging media and technology for social change
  • conscious capitalism and free market economics
  • addressing affordable access to wellness
  • sustainability & populations growth
  • the impact of Burning Man
  • the educational roadmap to impacting lives
  • how to scale a core business

It’s my honor to introduce you to my friend Gunnar. I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange and look forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,

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Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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SHOW NOTES

Connect With Gunnar: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thrive Market’s mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. To learn more, visit ThriveMarket.com

Love Heals is a socially conscious family business based on Ojai, California that plants trees for each piece of artisanal jewelry sold. For more information, visit loveheals.com

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production by Dean Menta. Music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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