Sunday, November 23, 2008

ADA: National Food and Nutrition Conference

At the end of October 10,000 Registered Dietitians gathered in Chicago for the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The conference revealed movements in dietetics and educational sessions discussing the latest field research.

As a dietitian, I am grateful for the opportunity to meet up with old friends, network and hear the latest in the nutrition world. I am happy to see a movement in dietetics that seems to be taking a more holistic approach to the field, and the dietitians role in hunger and environmental nutrition.

As you can image, there is no shortage of food products in the Expo center. Why would industry want to exhibit at FNCE? According to the ADA website: to increase access, visibility and time and money.
THE FOOD & NUTRITION CONFERENCE & EXPO (FNCE) gives you the most cost-effective way to meet face-to-face with thousands of qualified foodservice, nutrition and healthcare decision makers. You’ll develop solid new business leads while building on existing relationships.

Every sector of the food industry is represented at over 2200 booths: beverages, supplements, snack foods, 'functional foods', meal bars, as well as trade groups: The Almond Board of California, Peanut Institute, National Cattleman's Beef Association, National Dairy Council, National Chicken Council, even the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Dietitians can be seen ravenously filling their "eco friendly bags" with free samples of protein chews, appetite suppressant pills, gluten free snack foods, pastas, sweeteners, bakery products, get the picture, as well as nutrition information pamphlets and handouts that can be used to educate RD's clients.

Here is an example of the one from Frito Lay:

The highlight of the conference for me was Organic Valley Farm Tour, Elkhorn, Wisconsin sponsored by Organic Valley in conjunction with the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. A fabulous, day-long organic farm tour with a host of activities, including a milking parlor and milk house tour and demonstration; a pasture tour and discussion about organic grazing systems; a visit with Dr. Paul Dettloff, Organic Valley staff veterinarian, about herd health and animal well-being; and discussions about the current research and health benefits of organic foods. Lunch was provided on the farm followed by a cooking demonstration by Chef Monique Hooker, author of Cooking with the Seasons.

Some of the topics of the sessions I attended were: Food Access & Community Partnerships - Steps to Reducing Health Disparities, Food or Fuel: The Economic Facts , and the session: The Science of Organics: Nourishing the Land, Animals and People, was co-presented with Helen Costello MS, RD, LD, who currently works at the New Hampshire Food Bank and a former Friedman School graduate, was standing room only.
Food (and Water) For Thought Film Feastival, was a special event Co-hosted by HEN DPG & American Overseas Dietetic Association (AODA) at the Chicago Cultural Center. We viewed films on water conservation, water access, and global food security. After the films, a discussion with expert panelists including one of the filmmakers about how these issues affect our planet, our nation, and our communities.

Attending the session Sustainable Food Systems: Opportunities for Dietitians by speakers: Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD Environmental Nutrition Solutions and Alison Harmon PhD, RD, LN Montana State University was pivotal for me as a dietitian. I was pleased to see the room, young and old, captivated by the session. It is refreshing to me to see dietitians interested in how their food system is so connected to health and how excited they are to be exploring solutions.

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