Vini, Vidi, Vici.  Or, we went, we talked ourselves hoarse, we ate fantastic food.

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Last week, Team Oldways took to the skies and flew cross-country to Denver, CO for the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, aka ADA’s FNCE. All three of our primary initiatives – the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the Latino Nutrition Coalition, and the Whole Grains Council – were well represented, as was Oldways in general.  It was the first FNCE for Adriene and Erika, my fellow Program Managers, and this year’s FNCE was actually my third time at the show. With two previous years at FNCE under my belt, I can tell you that this year’s show was even more successful than before, but how exactly I know that is a little hard to quantify.  It’s not as if you can keep track of all the Registered Dietitians (RDs) you actually speak with, you just know the number has at least three digits even after Day One.  It’s not as if you get to see them accessing the resources you’ve told them about or pointed them towards, you just hope they log on.  And you certainly don’t know whether the conversations you have will help them help their patients and clients, which is why we go to FNCE every year. You just hope that you have helped them ‘cause they’re the ones doing all the really hard work to change the lives of the people in their care. FNCE is amazing and exhausting, for exhibitors and attendees alike.  The prep for a show like FNCE starts months in advance, even for a small non-profit like Oldways, and planning progresses steadily through the weeks leading up to your departure day.  You figure out your booth design, order your furniture and other exhibit needs, you meet to discuss what materials you’ll bring with you to hand out or have on hand for attendees, and you plan out the focus of your booth and what you’ll need to make the idea a reality. This year, we needed a scale. Not a bathroom scale or a postage scale, I’m talking about one of those beautiful old balancing scales with the twin pans dangling from a horizontal beam.  We wanted to illustrate one of Oldways’ primary ideals, that it’s easy to balance healthy food choices with a healthy and active lifestyle.  We hoped the visual of balancing food with lifestyle would appeal to the RDs at FNCE, and it was a breeze to tie our program materials into the display since all three programs tie directly into this directive. As you can see from the picture above, our display worked out perfectly!  We piled up the healthy food items on the right side – apples, grapes, an orange, carrots, artichokes, whole grain bread, even spices like cinnamon and small, individually wrapped chocolates.  Then we stacked up the props we collected to represent an active lifestyle – swim goggles, a miniature ice skate, ski goggles, balls for spots like soccer and baseball, a jump rope, a trowel and work gloves, even a pair of rubber gloves.  Hey, housework can be exercise!  Just ask anyone who constantly cleans up after cats or dogs or kids or a spouse and they’ll tell you it can be very active work indeed!  We spread our various educational materials, freebies, and other display items across the tables in our booth, and everything looked great atop our homey tablecloths.  You might be wondering why I didn’t take more pictures of our booth, but trust me, there wasn’t time!  For three days straight, you’re standing and talking and scanning badges and meeting folks and making sure you keep up with the seemingly constant flow of visitors to your booth.  It’s all you can do to grab something to eat during the day (aka forage, which ought to be an official Oldways sport) in-between trips to the bathroom and the water cooler.  Thankfully, it’s an unwritten rule here at Oldways that you’ve got to have a bit of the hunter-gatherer in you to be a part of the team, so not to worry, we did just fine. Besides, after your busy crazy day is done, you not only get to change into more comfortable clothing if you want, you get to eat.  I mean, sit down and REALLY eat! Check back tomorrow for the ultimate FNCE food porn post! :)  — Kara

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