Last week Oldways held our Third Annual Supermarket Dietitian Symposium at the lovely Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas.  We were honored to share tables and talks with forty-three supermarket dietitians and retail health and wellness advisors, plus representatives from twenty sponsoring companies committed to changing the face of public health in America.

Taken as a group, supermarket dietitians can impact millions of shoppers and they are vitally important modern-day change agents. No one is more passionate about their potential than Barbara Ruhs, MS, RD, LDN, from Bashas’ Family of Stores based in Phoenix, Arizona, who coordinated this event with us. (Barb also worked with Oldways on our 2011 and 2012 supermarket dietitian events.)

This year we were thrilled to welcome several dietitians who have recently joined supermarkets, as well as veterans with a decade or more of experience. Mixing up the different experience levels led to lively discussions. Our group also included three RDs who work with Canadian retailers, and just as we were heading off to Dallas we received inquiries from dietitians in Australia, Portugal, and Africa – all interested in coming to this symposium!

For the past 20 years, Oldways has been a trailblazer in promoting healthy, traditional, plant-based diets and the food at the event was very much in line with our messages. We enjoyed delicious meals prepared by the Mansion’s executive chef Bruno Davaillion. Here’s a peek at our Wednesday night buffet dinner:

Lentil Soup with Sherry Vinegar and Brioche Crouton
Mixed Field Greens Salad
Sliced Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Mushrooms, Heirloom Tomatoes

Hot Smoked Norwegian Salmon, Green Farro Risotto, Pickled Roots, Crispy Parsley
Jasmine Tea Soaked Tofu

Black Forbidden Rice, Pickled Asian Pear
Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Creamer Potatoes
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chilies

Chef’s Selection of Miniature Pastries

On Friday, March 1, we took the group to Fearing’s Restaurant at the Dallas Ritz-Carlton for a Texas-inspired Final Feast, which included two local Texas wines and plenty of healthy fare, including a vegan version of Dean’s famous Tortilla Soup as well as entrée choices including Maple/Black Peppercorn Soaked Buffalo Tenderloin on Brazos Valley Jalapeño Grits, Tangle of Greens and Butternut Squash Taquito with Smoky Chili Aioli. (Before opening his award-winning restaurant in 2007, chef Dean Fearing was the executive chef at the Rosewood Mansion.)          

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The theme for this year’s symposium was “Bridging Gaps for Supermarket Shoppers.” The program focused on the need for supermarket dietitians to come together on the messages they share with their customers on confusing topics, from biotech to sustainable and “safe” seafood.

Allison Karpyn, PhD from the Food Trust and Jason Riis, PhD, from Harvard Business School, outlined the public health battles that need to be fought in supermarkets, recognizing that customers can be easily influenced to make healthier choices by using messaging, displays, and pricing strategies. Several speakers urged the dietitian audience to use social media as a low-cost way to reach large audiences and build loyalty for their retailers. Tom Barritt, a media expert from Ketchum Public Relations in New York, used audience participants to demonstrate the impact of using storytelling as a way for dietitians to motivate their shoppers with healthy and practical ideas.

Those are just a few highlights. Read more about this exciting and educational event later this week on the Oldways events page, where we’ll also post speaker presentations and recipes for you to download.  And if you have any questions about what comes next  – our 2014 Supermarket Dietitian Symposium in a location soon to be announced – please contact Georgia Orcutt.

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