My biggest hope for this website is to help people feel empowered to take their health into their own hands. This starts by being aware of the food we eat and the ingredients we use. I want to share tips and tricks I have learned along the way and take away the guess work. However, the problem is that many of us (me included) only start to evaluate how we live our lives when faced with disease or health issue. But the focus should be on prevention. Of course it is hard change the foods we eat and to live "differently" than others when we seemingly feel "fine". There is also a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what a healthy diet actually entails. Also, eating healthy on a restricted budget might seem impossible. That is why I was so excited to learn that within my own community there are initiatives specifically addressing all of these issues.
The program, Cooking Matters, provides adult and family classes focused on cooking, food, and nutrition education. The class also educates participants on food budgeting and how to reuse leftovers to reduce food waste, and inevitably save money. The tools provided, show the participants that it is possible to feed your family healthy meals while sticking to your budget. The program also provides a bag of groceries to participants after each class with ingredients from the meals they prepared so they can recreate these at home for their families. Dr. Christopher Fink from Ohio Wesleyan University brought the program to the local community and I had the honor of participating in one of the classes.
The class encourages the participants to think differently about how they evaluate the food they eat through various exercises. The class I sat in began by exploring the concept of added sugars in our foods and how to identify added sugar. Participants learned how to read food labels and spot added sugar. There was also an exercise using sugar cubes to visualize the daily recommended amount of added sugar compared to the amount of sugar added to some common household staples. In many cases the piles of sugar cubes were surprising and gave the participants something to think about.
It was such an inspiration to see something so impactful happening in my own community. I am so grateful that Dr. Fink invited me stop in and see what the program entails first hand. It gives me hope that it is possible to to change our society's relationship with food while also decreasing food insecurity. Local initiatives such as this are how it will be done.
Check out the creative recipe we prepared in this class!