Tag Archives: RD Pride

Food (and Nutrition Conference) for Thought

Two weeks ago I attended the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, referred to in the biz as “FNCE”. This annual gathering of registered dietitians, dietetic technicians, and other food and nutrition professionals brought 10,000 of us to the City of Brotherly Love for a long weekend of learning, networking, and for me, personal reflection.

Each year, sponsors of the event include the biggest Big Food companies, and this causes a bit of a stir in the blogosphere and beyond. Unsurprisingly, many nutrition and food policy advocates are concerned about the influence of these sponsors on the Academy and its members. You can read excellent examples of the interesting (and biting!) commentary here and here. I agree that it’s troubling to see prominent displays by Coca Cola, McDonalds, and Monsanto in the Expo hall. Even more troubling is the sponsorship of some of the educational sessions (like a session on food intolerances that ended up being a dairy industry sponsored milk fest). I hope that the Academy gets the message that its members don’t want to be entangled with Big Food because this threatens the credibility of RDs everywhere.

Luckily, I’m savvy enough to avoid the potential pitfalls of FNCE. I ignored the junk vendors (no McDonalds “oatmeal” samples for me, thank you!). I didn’t go to many sponsored talks. I maintained a healthy skepticism and attention to whether information was being taught or sold.

Overall, for me it was just great to see old friends and to be in the midst of many other like-minded nutritionistas. And it was a much needed infusion of nutrition inspiration for my professional life which, as many of you know, is nutrition-free from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

In closing, I’d like to share my two takeaways from the conference:

  1. I must get more involved with hunger and food insecurity. The issue of hunger has always resonated deep down in my food-loving soul. The idea of a mother not having enough food for her children or an elderly person going hungry all alone…well, I can’t even type it without tears starting to flow. Two excellent educational sessions that I attended on the topic have catapulted this issue back into my immediate consciousness and have inspired me to put my skills and passion toward the issue of food insecurity in my community. I have a call in to the Pleasantville Interfaith Food Pantry already to see how I can get involved. Stay tuned for more on this.
  2. I have to get back to blogging! A session led by RD bloggers extraordinaire Toby Amidor and Dana White encouraged me to get back to it! I love to write, I love to translate my nutrition expertise into practical info and tips to help others. Plus, you never know where a good blog can lead in a career these days. So, I shall write. The floodgates have re-opened. Consider yourselves warned!

Until the next time, fair readers.


Filed under Misc.

Sullivan County weekend / Pro-RD rant

We recently visited a friend’s Sullivan County, New York weekend house for a couple of days. Something about getting out of the city and being in the country ignites my passion for local food, in-season produce, and home-grown homemade meals. Our hosts didn’t disappoint: lettuce, chives, cilantro, basil, shallots, scallions, zucchini, and baby fingerling potatoes from their garden made for some good eatin’.  (The setting didn’t disappoint either: tranquility, stunning sunsets, hummingbirds, butterflies, and more.)

The sun sets on Sullivan Co.

While there, I picked up this month’s issue of GQ magazine and read a wonderfully engaging article about ethical eating by Alan Richman (“Eat No Evil” – not available on-line).  Mr. Richman examines many aspects of what has become a hot trend in food, driven in part by books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  He interviewed farmers and self-proclaimed ethical eaters to try to come to an understanding of what it really means to eat ethically.  Among the issues raised: the question, ‘is it better to buy the local-but-conventional food, the organic-but-imported food, or the organic-but-industrial one?’ – a debate I often have when shopping at FreshDirect, my on-line grocer here in NYC, which has products in all of those categories.

When you consider the nutrition, the environmental impact, animal rights issues, and labor issues relating to the foods we eat, you begin to sense that there’s no clear roadmap to ethical eating. Richman basically concludes that eaters must reconcile their options and choose for themselves what they feel is the “right” path, through mindful eating and conscious consumerism.

My only criticism of the article, and the reason I was moved to write about it, is that on page 130 Mr. Richman states, “only your doctor or your mother should tell you what to eat.” What?!  I beg your pardon, Mr. Richman, but REGISTERED DIETITIANS are the nation’s food and nutrition experts. Doctors, with all due respect, are not.

Now, I’ve said my piece. I’m off to eat dinner: a hamburger (made from ground beef from a cow raised on a small family farm which is not certified “organic” but is a farm where I know the animals are treated humanely and allowed time in a pasture instead of kept in an industrial livestock feedlot) on a bun made in a factory in who-knows-where with whole (but conventionally grown) grains and some artificial preservatives added for shelf stability, with plenty of Heinz ketchup (not the organic kind) on top. On the side is broccoli – organic but (gasp!) frozen and delivered in an airplane from California to my store in New York.   And I ask myself, is this an “ethical” meal?

Um… Well…

Ethical enough.


Filed under Uncategorized