While food choices still reflect the importance of nutrition, taste and price – people also care about how food is grown and made, and they are asking questions about animal care and how food systems as well as their personal food choices impact the environment. Sharing the science and facts behind how nutrition and agriculture are connected can help give people confidence that farmers are committed to safe, wholesome nutritious foods, which have been sustainably grown or produced.
Health and wellness professionals and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), in particular, are well positioned to take the lead in this growing farm-to-table conversation and can help bridge the gap between farmers and the public. People’s need for credible information about food, agriculture and the environment has never been greater, because misinformation abounds. There are resources to help health and wellness experts connect people to the farm, clear up misperceptions with fact-based information and be a credible, reliable voice.
Let me introduce you to a couple of people who are already leading our profession in the farm-to-table and table-to-farm conversation:
- Katie Brown, EdD, RDN, LD is chief global strategy nutrition officer for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and has been leading the Future of Food initiative, which has many resources available from webinars, fact sheets and more to help make the nutrition, agriculture and sustainable food systems connection. This article from AND highlights dietitians working on food waste as part of the discussion.
- Chris Vogliano, MS, RD, LD has been another leader in this space, check out this article on food waste and his guest blog post series.
- Additionally, we have featured dairy farmer and registered dietitian Abbey Copenhaver, RDN, CDN and Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND in previous posts!
Looking for areas where you can learn more? Discovering your role in recovering food waste and helping others address it is a great way to begin, since it provides an integrated solution to several of the nutrition and food-related problems we face as a nation. For example, more than one-third of adults and approximately 17 percent of youth in the United States are obese. You can teach them how reducing food waste by using portion control and meal planning can improve personal health and lower food costs. We can learn and teach others to redirect food that would otherwise be wasted to feed hungry people, feed animals, create a source of energy and replenish the land.
For inspiration, check out the case studies on the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy website. You will see examples of how individuals, organizations and institutions have used their ingenuity and worked to reclaim food that was destined for landfills.
Learn and teach others to Honor the Harvest by respecting and being good stewards of the land and acknowledging the tremendous amount of work it takes for farmers to grow our food.
Remember, you already have the skills to connect nutrition education to agriculture and be a force for positive change in the world. Let’s join forces to lead a new conversation about food and agriculture!