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One woman's mission to bring the world organic food

Nora Pouillon wants to open the nation's first certified organic restaurant
Pioneer chef on going organic before it was cool 03:52

Farm-to-table restaurants are popping up all over the country. Now, the pioneer who opened the nation's first certified organic restaurant is looking to add to her already full plate.

Nora Pouillon grew up on a farm in the Austrian Alps where the food was always fresh, reports CBS News correspondent Chip Reid. Pouillon only buys food that is certified organic -- no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones.

"I think what I like about it is you can just pick something up and eat it, you don't have to wash it with special things to get rid of all the pesticides," Pouillon said. "Here you can just eat it, the only thing you might eat is a little dirt."

Pouillon says when she came to the U.S. as a young adult in the 1960's, she was horrified during her first trip to a supermarket.

"I mean, the produce department was the smallest department and the biggest department was the pre-packaged frozen foods," Pouillon said.

She refused to feed her children food with all those chemical additives. So, she started visiting organic farms far outside of town. She started an organic catering business, and that led to Restaurant Nora.

Early on she set a goal of having the first certified organic restaurant in America.

"At the beginning, people think I'm completely nuts," Pouillon said. "I'm crazy"

It took years of hard work -- but she succeeded, and after 36 years in business, Restaurant Nora is still attracting a who's-who of Washington, and Chef Nora remains an icon of healthy eating.

Yes, organic food is more expensive, but in the long run just might save you money, she said.

"I prefer to spend my money on food and not on the doctor," Pouillon said. "You stay healthier if you feed your body healthy food."

Pouillon also exercises every day, and when she was nearly 60 showed off the results of her healthy life-style by posing nearly-naked in an advertisement for a blender.

She blazed a trail for chefs across the nation, especially women -- including Carla Hall.

"When Norah was doing it, I don't even think that it was changing the game slowly," Hall said. "But I don't think we even realize how ahead of her time she was."

More than three decades later, organic food is everywhere, and at 71, Pouillon is still at it. She guest judged for Top Chef and is pushing organic food everywhere she can, including her recently published book, "My Organic Life."

In a world where everything has become so fast-paced, her idea is to make organic food more widely available.

"My dream is an organic McDonald's," Pouillon said. "I want to give very healthy food to everybody. I just have never found the billionaire who wants to finance it, but I think it can be done."

And if anyone can do that -- it's probably Nora Pouillon.

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