Oldways “A Taste of African Heritage” Pilot Program Launches in 15 Locations

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BOSTON, September 6, 2012 — Oldways’ African Heritage and Health program is ready to pilot its new community cooking class series, “A Taste of African Heritage.”  Hosted in 15 locations throughout the country this fall, these classes will celebrate and teach about the rich culinary traditions of African heritage, from the aromatic soups and stews of West Africa to the greens and grains prepared by creative women cooks of the American South.

The centerpiece of the cooking class curriculum is the African Heritage Diet Pyramid, introduced by Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization guiding people to good health through heritage, in November 2011. This healthy eating model celebrates the traditional eating patterns of early African-American ancestors—from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South.

“The best way to inspire healthy eating is through the palate,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways.  “Our Taste of African Heritage cooking classes are designed to motivate and inspire participants through heritage, bringing back healthy ‘old ways’ of eating.  We want to stir up excitement and expose participants to the delicious, easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods and flavors of African heritage.”

Scientific studies show that many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, now prevalent in African American communities, appear in populations as traditional diets are left behind.  Made possible through a grant by the Walmart Foundation, “A Taste of African Heritage” helps participants explore the culinary side of history to reclaim good health.

Oldways recruited local organizations from coast-to-coast, including faith-based groups, schools, and hunger initiatives, to partner on the pilot program. Instructors, who are health professionals and educators, will teach from an innovative curriculum created by Oldways.

The six-part lesson plan is designed to bring the African Heritage Diet Pyramid to life, allowing participants to “meet” the major foods of the pyramid (i.e., spices, greens, whole grains, beans/rice, tubers/stews and fruits/vegetables) and to learn how to easily prepare them. It’s also an introduction to the vibrant history, culture and nutrition of African heritage foods, and an experiential guide to easily adapting African heritage patterns to modern day life.

Held between October and November, each six-class series will explore the powerful health benefits of traditional African Heritage foods, while instilling cooking confidence, basic skills, and enjoyment as motivators for preparing regular home-cooked meals as part of a healthy lifestyle. The free classes are open to the public and last about 75 minutes.  Partner companies Riviana, FoodMatch and Eden Foods have generously provided products and coupons for the series.

A Taste of African Heritage is designed for people of all ages and interests,” said Sarah McMackin, Oldways program manager.  “For instance, one of our pilot programs will pair teens and seniors so they can explore healthy old ways — and new ways — together.”

This is the first program in the Tastes of Heritage series designed to bring Oldways’ family of traditional diet pyramids to life on dinner tables everywhere. For more than twenty years, Oldways has been dedicated to promoting the powerful health benefits, affordability, and delicious flavors found in traditional diets worldwide. Each series is a passport to the vibrant foods, flavors, and simple cooking techniques of cultures from around the world – from the Mediterranean, Latin America, Asia, and major regions of the African diaspora.

For more information on participating locations, events and signups, please contact Sarah McMackin, Oldways program manager, 512-330-0111, sarahm@oldwayspt.org.

About Oldways

Oldways (www.oldwayspt.org) is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition. Simply, we advocate for the healthful pleasures of real food. Oldways is the parent organization for The Whole Grains Council and The Mediterranean Foods Alliance, and is well-known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.