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Cooking In Community

By Marti Wolfson

I recently returned from my 4th annual Food as Medicine Conference (FAM), a training program for health professionals to effectively integrate nutrition into their practices. I like to think of this community as my professional family. The 4-day program includes cutting edge presentations given by leading Functional Medicine and Integrative doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, social and environmental activists as well as incredible lunches created by Culinary Director Rebecca Katz. Two years ago Rebecca formed a team of us Cooks on Call (COC), Culinary Nutrition Educators, who help translate the science of nutrition in the kitchen. It’s one thing when doctors tell their patients to eat kale but it’s a whole other ballgame when they can tell that patient 5 different ways to prepare it.

This year COC gave cooking classes to 285 of FAM’s participants and we had a blast playing with flavor, texture, and most of all cooking in community. After listening for hours on what foods benefit digestion, detoxification, insulin resistance, cancer, diabetes, (FYI, the common denominator is a plant-based diet) the participants’ understanding was taken to another level as they worked around the kitchen tables experiencing food as medicine.

One of my biggest take aways at this year’s conference was how much greater we are in numbers; like the good bacteria in our guts! We can think of our communities like our own internal biology. Much like the importance of having good bacteria to support our health, we need to nourish our communities with the best quality food.  Of all the fabulous presenters, and there were many, I was most affected by Ruthi Solari of Superfood Drive and Cathryn Couch of Ceres Community Project. These two women are models of change, helping to make healthy food accessible to all people. It’s worth checking out.

Inspired by my FAM community, I am forming the New York Integrative Health Collaborative. If you are a practitioner in the field of cooking, nutrition, or other wellness services and are interested in joining like-minded female professionals please contact me at [email protected].

Myself and colleague Stefanie Sacks will be dishing up some nutritious and delicious presentations at the next FAM program taking place at Kripalu Yoga Center September 17th-21st. Tell your friends and family who work in healthcare or come for your own personal knowledge. It will change the way you eat and feel!