The Oldways Table Blog

Celebrating health,
happiness, heritage,
and delicious,
nutritious food.

October 1, 2015 | Oldways Table

Eat Chocolate for breakfast.  Don't Eat Pasta after 4 pm.  Drink Wine at Bedtime to Help You Lose Weight.  Butter is Back.  

These are just a few of the headlines consumers have seen in newspapers, blogs, magazines, websites and television shows in the last year. No wonder people say they are confused and have no idea how they should eat—and therefore—just give up. Adding to the confusion, public perception is that nutrition advice changes every day, leaving many of us scratching our heads at the ongoing food fight, and saying, “Can’t those experts agree on anything??

Oldways figured there was only one way to answer that question: Gather some of the world’s top nutrition science experts in one room, let them have their say, then ask them to reach consensus—to find common ground—on what we really know about eating well.

So, on November 17 and 18, Oldways will bring together the best of the world's top nutrition scientists, with a range of differing views (from paleo to vegan), and ask them to listen to one another and come to a meeting of the minds about what is a healthy and sustainable way of eating, and to make clear recommendations so consumers will understand that it's not chocolate for breakfast and wine at bedtime that will help them lose weight and live a healthy, long life.

Joining Oldways as scientific co-chairs of the Finding Common Ground conference are Walter Willett, MD and David Katz, MD – two of America’s most respected voices in nutrition. They’ll be joined by a host of experts with a wide range of perspectives, including advocates for vegetarian diets (Dean Ornish, MD and Joan Sabaté, MD), the Mediterranean Diet (Antonia Trichopoulou, MD and Miguel Angel Martinez, MD), the Paleo Diet (Boyd Eaton, MD), Low Glycemic Diets (David Jenkins, MD and David Ludwig, MD), and the new American Paradigm (Christopher Gardner, PhD). Also participating will be experts on often-demonized dietary components like gluten (Alessio Fasano, MD) and saturated fat (Frank Hu, MD), and specialists on diet and the environment (Mal Nesheim, PhD and Tom Kelly, PhD) and the food environment (Dariush Mozaffarian, MD). Also joining are Meir Stampfer, MD, Eric Rimm, ScD, Neal Barnard, MD and T. Colin Campbell, PhD.

Because every good message needs dependable messengers to help spread the word, Oldways is inviting many of the media’s top journalists to witness and participate in this unprecedented summit meeting. Writers for newspapers, magazines and websites have an important complementary role to play in helping the public realize that we know how to eat well; by bringing both journalists and scientists together in one place, Oldways will ensure that more consumers hear the consistent message of the Finding Common Ground Consensus, and that journalists have the opportunity to network with researchers who can act as their reliable sources for future stories. In fact, exploring how nutrition information gets miscommunicated—and how we can all do better in the future—is an important component of this event.

Oldways’ goals for the Finding Common Ground conference are ambitious:

  • to craft a unified, clear message about eating well
  • to examine the ways that nutrition messages get distorted – and why
  • to unite scientists and journalists in a positive campaign for better public health

Our aim is to make an impact on the way Americans eat, and improve public health in the U.S. by uniting scientists, journalists and food experts. 

Stay tuned!  There’s lots of excitement ahead. Watch for conference videos, a follow-up blog post with the conference conclusions, and continuing programming. We sincerely hope you, our readers, will share our journey to Find Common Ground. 

~ Sara Baer-Sinnott, President, Oldways




Oldways Finding Common Ground

September 29, 2015 | Oldways Table

During the summer months there are a number of international cheese festivals. Every two years, the biggest festival is held in the tiny town of Bra in northwestern Italy. The event is known simply as “Cheese” and it brings producers from all over the world. For this year’s festival the theme was “A Journey to Mountain Pastures” and it highlighted cheeses and the producers who maintain mountain traditions.

During the festival we had the opportunity to sample some unique raw milk cheeses that are not available in the U.S., and also cheeses from places as diverse as South Africa and Iceland. This reminded me that cheese is key in millions of people’s diets and the diversity responds to the unique capacity of cheese to be many things.

Displays included fresh, hard, aged, small, and very large cheeses from all over the world. This variety was exhilarating, but it was even more interesting to notice that over 70% of the producers choose to use unpasteurized milk. Raw milk is what sustains the diversity and at times prevents the commodification of many styles.

We are lucky to still have this diversity, especially when in other parts of the food system we are quickly losing heirloom varieties. Cheese producers worldwide are resisting the push to make more commercial styles. However, economic pressures are intensifying and soon, if the market does not demand raw milk cheeses and if regulators force pasteurization on us, many producers may have to make the hard decision to break with tradition.

If  you, like me, care about this diversity and rural livelihoods, I invite you to take our 2015 Raw Milk Cheese Consumption and Attitudes Survey. We will use the results to address the FDA request for comments on raw milk cheese. It will also help us understand how to better educate people about the benefits of traditional cheesemaking techniques.

If you are interested in other cheese festivals you can check out our page in Facebook to learn about upcoming events. October is American Cheese Month and there are three fantastic events in Boston:

October 3 – Let’s Talk About Cheese

October 11 – Massachusetts Cheese Festival

October 12 / 17 – Curds | Cultures | Communities Restaurant Week

Photos: Top (clockwise from top left) Cave aged cheese by Marayn de Bastassac (France), Semi-hard and Hard cheeses from France, Parmigiano Reggiano wheels produced by the Consorzio Vacche Rosse, Irish selection from Sheridans Cheesemongers. Side: Two types of Robiola di Roccaverano DOP made in Italy, the famous Gjetost from Norway with its caramel color.

~ Carlos Yescas, Oldways Cheese Coalition

September 24, 2015 | Oldways Table

In November, healthcare professionals around the country will be busy raising awareness about diabetes during National Diabetes Month. Hope Warshaw, RD, CDE, is one of them. In fact, she has been a diabetes educator and advocate for nearly 40 years, counseling people to better health, traveling the country to speak about the disease, and writing a number of books including her latest, Eat Out, Eat Well – The Guide to Eating Healthy in Any Restaurant, published by the American Diabetes Association. Recently, she took time to talk with us about diabetes.

Diabetes in America

Did you know that every five minutes, sixteen American adults are newly diagnosed with diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, affecting people of all ages and ethnicities. Another one in four people aren’t aware they have it.

In addition, the CDC estimates 86 million people have prediabetes, meaning that they have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It also means that they have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and without weight loss and moderate exercise, the CDC estimates that 1530% of these people will develop the disease within 5 years.

“One thing people need to be aware of,” says Hope, “is that prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are progressive. When they are not taken seriously from the diagnosis, and healthy lifestyle changes are not made and followed long term, it’s difficult to slow their progression. Treatment over the years can be more challenging.”

People with newly-diagnosed diabetes should talk with their healthcare provider about management options and the very important lifestyle changes to make. They should be sure to ask for a referral to a diabetes educator or diabetes education program for initial education and support.

”People with prediabetes should be encouraged to lose 5–7% of their body weight and work hard to keep that off through the years. This can help prevent or slow their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research shows the best way to accomplish this is by eating healthier, eating smaller portions and being more physically active.”

“Taking these actions can be challenging in our current food and cultural environment,” she adds. “Eating healthier for many people is really about making changes in eating habits and food choices.”

To help people move towards a healthier lifestyle, Hope shared these four tips, which she considers key to this process:

1) Plan ahead.

“It’s one of the most important things to do. Being aware of your goals and needs each week really helps you succeed. That means knowing what foods you have in your pantry, foods you need to purchase, how and when you’ll prepare your meals and where and what you’ll eat away from home. For example, can you make a big quantity of a healthy casserole one weekend day to have a few dinners at the ready when you arrive home from work? All this takes effort, especially at the beginning, but gets easier the more you do it.”

2) Choose restaurant foods wisely.

Research confirms that the more food we have in front of us, the more we’ll eat, so controlling portions is essential. “When you’re eating restaurant meals, portion control starts from the moment you glimpse the menu board or have a menu placed in your hands. A good strategy to follow is to order smaller portions in the first place, or split menu items.” She adds, “Another is to ask for a take home container upfront; when your food arrives, portion out what you’ll eat at the table and what you’ll take home.”

Whether at home or at a restaurant incorporate more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy foods in your eating plan, they’re not only nutritious, they’re filling, too.

3) Embrace the concept of “displacing” your food.

“This is really a tactic of switching one food for another. For example, at a restaurant, (especially at those serving pasta dishes) ask for a small bowl of marinara sauce and dip your bread in it instead of slathering butter or oil on your bread. Rather than eating foods high in saturated fats, such as a thick steak, eat fish once or twice a week instead. By virtue of choosing something healthier, you’re saving calories and eating healthier fats, too. Have fun with this, challenge yourself to see how you can enjoy your meals with these new choices.”

4) Be physically active.

“I can’t stress this enough. More and more research is showing that a sedentary lifestyle is hazardous to our health, no matter who we are. Get up, move. At the office, stand up and walk around every 90 minutes; take the stairs whenever you can; take a walk after dinner; ride a bike. It’s been shown that blood glucose and insulin resistance (a core problem in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes) with regular physical activity can be improved.”

The American Diabetes Association states that in the short term physical activity can lower blood glucose for 24 hours or more after exercise, making our bodies more sensitive to insulin. When someone is active on a regular basis it can help keep blood sugar levels stable.

As we learn more about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and how we can delay or prevent their onset, these tips can help everyone live a happier and healthier life, whether or not they’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.

For more information and resources on diabetes and healthy eating, please visit Hope Washaw’s website, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, and our ONE Diabetes toolkit.

~ Deborah Plunkett, Oldways Nutrition Exchange

Hope Warshaw, RD, CDE

September 22, 2015 | Oldways Table

For those who haven’t been to Jamaica yet…what are you waiting for?!  If you’re allergic to clear blue skies, white sandy beaches, beautiful sunsets, and great food then Jamaica is not for you. However if you  love fresh coconut water, an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, reggae music everywhere and friendly people, you have now discovered your new haven. 

Jamaica is the fifth largest island in the Caribbean. The country boasts a varied terrain, from the beautiful Blue Mountain range where they make world-renowned coffee to rainforest, beaches, and waterfalls. Aside from coffee, Jamaica is known for their Appleton Rum, Red Stripe beer, ackee -  their national fruit - , and their infamous jerk spice and cooking.

Recently, while in Jamaica for the third time I visited Negril, a small beach town in the western part of the country. It is well known for its seven-mile stretch of beach to the east and the stunning cliff side to the west. The town is small, so everyone knows each other and it has a warm, downhome feeling. As anywhere in the world, if you choose to stay outside of a resort, you get to experience the real culture. That is how I like to travel.  So I spent all of my time getting to know locals, eating at local restaurants, dancing at the local happening spots, and relaxing in the sun.

As a foodie, a place near and dear to my heart is Pablo’s Restaurant. I met Pablo last year and ate breakfast at his place every day. Pablo is the chef/owner of a small mom and pop restaurant on the cliff side of Negril and his kind persona and food is loved by many.  My favorite among the dishes he prepares is the national breakfast of Jamaica and consists of sautéed ackee (usually with saltfish, but he is vegan/vegetarian friendly and accommodates me), sautéed callaloo, boiled green banana, yam, and dumpling, sometimes with a side of fried plantains. A very fulfilling breakfast for just $6 US! I usually get a fruit smoothie of fresh papaya, banana, and pineapple too and then I’m ready for the morning!

If you’re not convinced yet that Jamaica should be your next travel destination, I guess you just have to visit and find out! While you’re there, stop by Pablo’s for breakfast on your way to the beach…you won’t regret it!

~ Sade Anderson, The African Heritage and Health Program


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