Hi. I’m Danielle Shelton, a board certified family medicine physician and co-founder of Clean Your Plate. I grew up just outside Manhattan to a Japanese restaurateur father. Some of my earliest memories are birthday cakes from Jean-Georges’ French restaurants, my fingers sticky with delight. Or pretending kimchi wasn’t too spicy for my prepubescent tongue, wearing the scorched earth feeling in the back of my throat like a badge of honor. For me food exploration became a deeply ingrained necessity, on par with breathing. It’s one of the ways Benjamin first stole my heart - he taught me how to make homemade mozzarella!
When I graduated family medicine residency I quickly became disenchanted with the way medicine was practiced. It went something like this: Hi there. You have diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, a recent heart attack - well here’s a pill, eat better, exercise, good luck, see you in 3 months.
The report, Global Burden of Disease, concluded that unhealthy diet is the biggest contributor to tens of millions of deaths worldwide, and more than 678,282 deaths annually in the United States. And though exercise plays an equally integral part in preventing disease only 5% of Americans engage in the recommended weekly amount of physical activity.
Yet, most of us on the front lines of this epidemic don’t have the resources or the know how to address this issue for ourselves or our patients.
I looked and looked for resources that fully addressed the above and when I couldn’t find what I was looking for I turned to my chef husband and said, “So what do you think of starting a non-profit….”
Hi. I’m Benjamin Shelton, chef, part time sailor, full time donut critic, and co-founder of Clean Your Plate. As one of six children I began my culinary career at a young age by helping my mother prepare food in the many family kitchens we habitated while moving around the country for my father’s job. All those miles helped me acquire a taste for the unique flavors of the different US regions and the subconscious appreciation of their similarities and differences.
That continual movement built in me a deep wanderlust and passion for seeking out the piquant experiences of the globe. For the past 15-odd years of my professional career I have traveled and traveled and traveled, sometimes without even a backpack and rarely with a plan.
But during that time I have spent countless hours training on four continents under a myriad of other chefs from all walks of life and cultures - from haute cuisine, to small local diners, to ships bound for distant ports, to the kitchens of grandmothers and aunties. All of this has sharpened my skills, honed my craft, and allowed me to understand food in its deep cultural roots.
It’s the reason when Danielle brought up starting a lifestyle medicine nonprofit, marrying her skills with mine, that I said, “It sounds a bit crazy, but I’m in!”
Clean Your Plate's Story
A 501(c)(3) non profit organization, Clean Your Plate, is an evidenced based partnership between healthcare professionals, chefs, and community leaders seeking to empower communities to live healthier lives through giving people access to wellness opportunities regardless of personal resources.
We have found so many passionate healthcare professionals, fitness instructors, and community leaders who believe in our mission and partner with us to create a healthier future.
We have a number of endeavors and projects - from culinary gardens impacting food deserts, to lifestyle medical student rotations hoping to decrease physician burnout, to educational conferences building resilience in healthcare professionals, to hosting culinary medicine workshops in resource limited neighborhoods, to working with schools to make the next generation health literate.
We are passionate about changing the trajectory of modern healthcare!
(and building wellness in our communities)