We’re just back from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ annual Food & Nutrition Conference Expo (FNCE), held this year in Boston, October 15-18. It’s the world’s largest annual meeting for food and nutrition professionals, and for Oldways, exhibiting at the show and talking face-to-face with hundreds of dietitians always energizes our team and give us lots of ideas to bring home. It seemed that at least half the people we spoke with knew and respected Oldways, proof that our organization has carved out a significant space for itself as a reliable voice and valuable resource in the nutrition world.


Our booth was a busy place where our new handout explaining the many ways dietitians can work with Oldways programs flew off the counter. (You can download your own copy here.) We talked with a steady stream of dietitians who wanted to check in about our popular Mediterranean Diet resources and it was particularly key that attendees were able to touch and flip through the A Taste of African Heritage curriculum. Even those who were not interested in teaching the class expressed amazement that we had gone so far as to create a comprehensive set of lessons and recipes AND that we are “out there” teaching classes and equipping students with the tools to make culturally relevant, healthful changes in their daily lives. We spoke to a good mix of professionals who wanted to teach the class on an On-Demand or individual volunteer basis, as well as those who would like to potentially form sustainable partnerships. We also talked with a number of dietitians who were seeking information on plant-based diets. Making these face-to-face connections was invaluable for us.


In fact, attending FNCE serves as our annual review — our chance to ask, “How are we doing?” … “Are we meeting your needs?” … “What else could we be doing to support the important work you do?” Judging by what we heard, our efforts are appreciated. So many RDs who visited our booth said things like: 

  • “You’re my go-to website.”
  • “I use your materials all the time.”
  • “I love what you do.”

While our expo booth buzzed with activity, we were perhaps most pleased to bring the results of our 2015 Oldways Finding Common Ground conference to a wider audience of registered dietitians across the country. In the lively Sunday afternoon session, “Finding Common Ground: Communicating the Tenets of Good Nutrition,” David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM and Walter Willet, MD gave a briefing on where the common ground stands in food and nutrition, and the best way to communicate this with patients and clients, guided by moderator Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, who was the 2016 Lenna Frances Cooper Award winner.


Wholesome plant foods are the foundation of each and every one of the heritage pyramids at Oldways, so we were especially excited to present another educational session that particularly focused on this United Nations recognized crop. “Pulses: From Ancient Crop to Future of Food,” was moderated by the Oldways staff dietitian, Kelly Toups, MLA, RD, LDN.


In front of a packed house, The New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD demonstrated a Ginger Fig Pulse Pudding (made with black beans!) and a Mushroom and Cannellini Bean “Quiche,” and explained why pulses are an important part of the diet plans when she works with patients and clients. Then, John Sievenpiper, MD, PhD, FRCPC, of the University of Toronto, addressed our enthusiastic audience about the epidemiology research being conducted on pulses and health, and the evidence behind why pulses may be helpful in weight management, cholesterol control, and more.

Walking the floor, we were happy to see a variety of Mediterranean recipe samples, from classic cooked pasta dishes to new takes on Mediterranean foods, such as peach caprese salad and a blueberry farro salad. Simply prepared seafood samples demonstrated how tasty fish can be by itself, and how it is typically cooked in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean recipe cards were everywhere too — hummus and za’atar yogurt, salmon pesto frittata, and fresh pear crostini – proving that the Mediterranean Diet is hot, and not just for its health benefits — the samples were delicious.

And, from the perspective of our Whole Grains Council work, we were excited to learn on the floor that Quality Assurance International (QAI), one of the largest organic certification companies, just announced a new Certified Transitional program to encourage farmers to make the switch to organic production and be recognized during the transition. QAI’s Certified Transitional program, created in partnership with the Kashi Transitional Farming Initiative, sets benchmarks for each of the three years of transition, starting in year one by requiring the farmer to stop using all prohibited synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and through years two and three by helping the farmer implement best practices for soil and water quality and meet all the other requirements for organic certification. To learn more visit our recent Whole Grains Council blog here.

For months to come our participation at FNCE will inspire us to keep on finding new ways to communicate Oldways’ message of good health through traditional food culture. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hello or share a thought with us.

See you next year for FNCE 2017 in Chicago!

The Oldways Team



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