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Manna on the [Inter]national Stage

Lindsey here. While life is in full swing here at Manna’s warehouse, there have been remarkable opportunities to share Manna’s work with professionals across the country (and the world) this March.

 

Last week, I published a post about the 5 most interesting breakthroughs in health tips that I learned from experts at the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ conference. Check out that post here.

 

5 Things to Know About the Latest in Health

I have been a member of the International Association of Culinary Professional for three years now. In 1978, a group of cooking school owners and instructors, including Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, created the IACP (formerly named the Association of Cooking Schools), and in the process, they laid a foundation for food culture in America and beyond. Now IACP’s membership includes writers, photographers, stylists, bloggers, marketers, nutritionists, chefs, restaurateurs, culinary tour operators, artisan food producers, and academia.

Ellen Damaschino (left) of Cooking Matters, and Manna’s Lindsey Seegers co-present at the 39th IACP conference

Last year, I had the honor to serve as a cookbook judge for the Children, Youth, Family cookbooks submitted to the IACP’s distinguished Cookbook Awards. This year, for the 39th annual conference, I was selected as a speaker for the first evening’s workshops. See, I noticed that the allure of food and cooking united this engaging group of professionals—but who was talking about the millions around us without enough food for the week ahead?

 

This observation inspired my IACP colleague and I to create a workshop: Using Our Culinary Expertise For Good. Ellen Damaschino is the Program Manager of Cooking Matters, a vital program in Manna’s Nutrition Education outreach. Ellen is working on the national level, training Americorp volunteers on teaching grocery shopping and cooking skills to families living on a low-income. I covered work happening here in Montomgery County: from our own nutrition education programming, to Community Food Rescue and Farm to Foodbank.

 

Culinary professionals brainstorm how they can use their skills to fight hunger in their home communities.

The 3 biggest surprises from our session:

Hunger touches more lives than you might expect.

Ellen and I shared some ways that our organizations fight hunger in the community—both at the personal and the policy level. We then asked our session participants to answer some questions we posted around the room. Our participants included owners of distinguished culinary schools, chefs, writers, and representatives from big food corporations. This response surprised me the most:

Accomplished culinary professionals reveal a surprising connection to this troubling question.

 

People are so eager to give back, but just don’t know how.

Prior to the conference, Ellen and I surveyed the 50 attendees registered for our session about what hinders them from helping those affected by hunger. We found common, and some unexpected, themes in the responses.

 

It’s all about the small steps.

We found that this group of talented, accomplished, and driven colleagues were indeed eager to make a difference. We didn’t need to spend time explaining how or why hunger is simply wrong. We did find that most people are paralyzed by the notion of taking the “right” first step. So we asked our groups to brainstorm what they could do within their means and resources and availability—and sent them them off with small action steps to take home. Feel free to check out our resource guide, and consider your own inspiration to get involved.

How Can You Use Your Culinary Expertise For Good Official Resource Page

Lindsey here. Last week, I was a guest speaker at the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference in Lousiville, Kentucky. Next week, I’ll be back to share how we intertwined Manna’s work with nationwide hunger-fighting efforts.

Chatting about the microbiome with Executive Chef Richard Jones (left) and Dr. Peter Swanz (center)

 

At IACP, I had the opportunity to learn about the latest in health, eating, and feeding from professionals all over the globe.

 

Here are five fascinating takeaways from the pros

one: White flour has the nutritional value of a Q-tip.

I am always seeking a clear way to teach our families about the nutrition (or lack of) in white flour. Unfortunately, cookies, cakes, crackers, white bread, pretzels, etc. are cheap and abundant. If we’re looking to fuel our bodies for energy, focus, and wellness, white flour has little to contribute. I love this easy phrase!

two: Hunger is not a production issue. It’s economic, political, and infrastructure.

This was uttered by a grain farmer at a workshop called “Can Heritage Grains Actually Feed the World?” Of course, this question does not have a straightforward yes or no answer. However, this statement is a powerful reminder of how much capability, and responsibility, we have to feed our neighbors. By which I mean nourish our neighbors, not bombard vulnerable families with excess bakery leftovers (see number one, above).

three: Health should be more contagious than disease.

Dr. Peter Swanz, a physician and Doctor of Naturopathy, had much to share about the hottest words in food (epigenetics, nutrigenetics and the microbiome). While there were a lot of multi-syllabic science terms, health still comes down to some important basics. Dr. Swanz said: Nutrition is only one piece of our health. Make sleep, exercise, and drinking filtered water priorities, too. Exercise actually increases healthy bacteria in the gut.

four: Beware of the “Eat like me, look like me” trend.

The “Eat like me, look like me” trend can have truly dangerous health messages.


One of the most engaging workshops was about navigating nutrition on the web. Consumers are distrusting experts more and more, and research shows the public views their peers equally credible when it comes to health advice. Pete Evans, pictured here, actually had a book recalled because the Paleo food he recommended for infants was in fact lethal advice! How to spot red flags when you’re reading a health headline: is it published? is it too good to be true? is it heavy on testimonials? is there only one study to support the statement? Here is a great watchdog website to handle all those health headlines.

five: We are only 1% human.

You read that right. Our bodies are comprised of ten times more microbial cells than our own human cells. There are approximately 100 times more bacterial genes playing a role in your life than there are human genes. We are 99% bacteria! Here’s the take-home message from the latest research: to increase your microbiome diversity, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and exercise made the most difference. Organically grown or not, replacing processed food with any vegetables is the most important step.

Veggies come in all colors and flavors. This kale and citrus winter salad was my first meal in Kentucky–considered myself lucky!

 

Come back to the blog next week to see Manna’s good work represented in Louisville.