Monday, March 29, 2010

What do Dietitians Eat? Menu #8

As I glanced back through my archives of blog postings, I saw that I jumped from What do Dietitians Eat? Menu #7 to Menu #9. What happened to #8? Did I just mis-number my posts or was #8 still sitting in a draft format? The latter and for almost a full year!

So the following menu is not quite seasonal, again it is pushing spring, even early summer, with taste treats that are worth waiting for. Sorry for the extreme delay in getting this posted up!


• White Bean and Sage Soup
• Spring Greens Salad (with our own kale, of course!)
• Home-made Crackers
• Applesauce mixed with Stewed Rhubarb

White Bean and Sage Soup
This recipe is a variation of Italian Butter Bean Soup Recipe shared by one of my sister-in-laws and found, along with dozens and dozens of additional recipes, on my website

(Photo: White Bean and Sage Soup - finish with a sprinkle of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese for a delightful taste contrast to the robust sage.)

(Photo: Sage leaves chopped and frozen last fall - easy to use in place of dried sage when fresh sage is not yet available in spring.)

Spring Greens Salad
(including our own kale, of course!)

Head down to your Farmers' Market to see what is available in your area now. There should be a wide variety of greens.

(Photo: Spring salad mix)

Salad Dressing is easy - Don't spend your hard-earned money on salad dressings that cost a fortune (and many have so many additives, added water, sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup, and undefined 'vegetable oil' that my head spins reading the label). Just splash of any type of vinegar or lemon juice (I used some home-made chive blossom vinegar) with some olive oil.

(Photo: Chive blossom vinegar - directions on a past posting, scroll down to see the photos and instructions.)

I was wondering what I could make ahead of time for a bread recipe and still have it be "fresh" for tonight. I finally remembered how much I enjoyed making these crackers several months ago plus how they stayed dry and crispy for several days.

(Photo: Rosemary Flatbread Crackers - recipe and directions on a previous post, scroll down.)

Applesauce with stewed rhubarb

I see that I don't have any recipe already posted for making our stewed rhubarb, so when our fresh rhubarb is ready to pick, freeze, or stew, I'll make sure I get photos of that. Hopefully, all the rhubarb we transplanted from our community garden to our farmhouse will produce. In addition, we have some old, old, old rhubarb at our current home that also needs to be transplanted (it has been moving around/given away from rootstock many generations ago in Indiana.)

(Photo: Stewed rhubarb with mint leaf - I often mix our stewed rhubarb with applesauce or fresh fruit.)

I finally got our little mint patch trimmed back on a warm day last week. No new growth seen yet, but it won't be long. Then I can dig some up to take out to the farm. Surprisingly, I did not see any mint plants last year. We certainly can find some place to put it where we can also contain it from going wild, like the chives have done!

Although it is a rainy day here today and we plan to work inside our farmhouse still stripping wallpaper, caulking, etc, etc, I love this short quotation because there is nothing better than the smell of the earth, and smelling like dirt, in spring!

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
~~ Margaret Atwood

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Signs of Spring 2010

I changed the photo on the heading of my blog earlier this week to show our garlic fields in early spring with the winter snow all gone and the water finally drained from the paths, complete with Kaya walking and inspecting the rows just like a farmer. I've also included a few other signs of early spring from our farm, our current home, and our community garden.

(Photo: Moving out of our community garden since we will finally be farming right out the kitchen door this year. Yes, we are moving the rocks we have dug up for future use somehow at the farm. Kaya loves her freedom during spring garden clean-up.)

(Photo: Garlic peeking up at the farm through its winter mulch!! Different varieties are coming up at different rates. All this information goes into the farm journal as we ultimately will decide which varieties are the best producers for this soil.)

(Photo: Primrose along a backyard path at our current home. Maize and blue flowers were planted when my older son graduated from the University of Michigan in 2004. Other colors have since been added, but the some of the original plants will move with us to the farm to us help us remember that happy event.)

(Photo: Chives coming up at our current home. I am not sure that I need to transplant these. There are so many chives growing everywhere at the farm, that jokingly, we have considered "Chives Gone Wild" as a name for our farm! I'm serious - they are everywhere!)

(Photo: Lilac buds on the farm - I can't wait to see what color they are and smell them. I had a row of young light purple lilacs at our home in Illinois, planted one year by my sons for Mother's Day. I have missed them for 22+ years, so I look forward to enjoying these!)

Spring smells like the earth itself, spring sights like the first flock of sandhill cranes heading north overhead or seeing a kettle of turkey vultures coming back home, spring warmth (an unexpected burst and then the more typical incremental increases), increasing daylight plus the clarity of the spring light itself, spring sounds like the first song sparrow or the Western chorus frogs and Spring peepers heard in all the little wet spots all around our property. I could go on and on............. The best thing about Midwestern winters is noticing every little bit of spring. We don't take anything for granted here and embrace the return with gratefulness and gusto!

I have begun collecting poems and quotes about our soil, our earth, our land. If you have one you call a favorite, please send it to me or share it in the comment section! Here is one of my favorites:

It is only when we are aware of the earth
and of the earth as poetry that we truly live.
~~ Henry Beston, 1935, Herbs and the Earth

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Recipe: Date - Walnut Loaf

(Photo: Date-Walnut Loaf sliced)

This Date & Walnut Loaf recipe is a holiday tradition in the Grant-Dyer families. The recipe came from my dad's Aunt Ruth. Like our other holiday favorite, the Date Pinwheel Cookies, this recipe is also irresistible, although I don't have any recollection about anyone having tummy aches from eating non-stop with this recipe like my older son did with the Date Pinwheel Cookies when he was small. :-)

However, unlike the Date Pinwheel Cookies, this recipe is easy to make, can be made ahead, and then frozen until serving time, even if one loaf gets lost in the freezer and not found again until July (or used in February like at my recent potluck dinner). Usually we talk about remembering summer in winter with the taste of our stewed rhubarb, a berry jam, or delicious frozen summer vegetables, but finding a loaf of Date & Walnut Loaf in the freezer in July is an instant flash-back to the lovely winter holidays in the middle of summer!


4 unbeaten eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup flour (I use white whole wheat)
1# pitted whole dates (do not use date pieces)
3-4 cups whole walnut haves (again, do not use pieces)


1) Add 1/4 cup flour in large mixing bowl to coat dates and nuts.

2) Combine eggs, sugar and oil - beat well.

3) Add 1 cup flour and salt to egg mixture - beat well.

4) Add egg mixture to dates and nuts. Fold with rubber spatula to mix batter evenly with dates and nuts (there is not much batter compared to the dates and nuts)

5) Place in greased and floured bread pans (I use small pieces of parchment paper, too)

6) Note - this MUST be started in a cold oven and baked at 300 degrees.

7) How long depends on the size of the pan:
1 - 5x9 pan - 2 hours
2 - 2-1/4 x 7-3/4 - 90 minutes
4 - 2-1/4 x 4-1/2 - ~75 minutes (this is what I do)

8) I do test with a toothpick and make sure that the tops of the loaves are a beautiful golden brown.

9) Let loaves cool about 10 minutes in the pan(s), then remove to finish cooling on cooling racks. I wrap each loaf individually in foil when fully cooled, label, put in freezer bags to keep until needed during the holiday season (or July, whatever the case may be!).

This is so delicious that just half a slice (or two) of the smallest loaf size is needed to satisfy the sweet tooth.

(Photo: Date-Walnut loaf, close-up)


Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, March 26, 2010

What do dietitian's eat - menu #9

After unexpectedly finding some stray parsnips in my refrigerator that were still just fine, I made this recipe way back in mid-February for a potluck dinner with my dietitian friends.

Curried Apple Parsnip Soup
An easy, hearty soup-all in one pot!

• 6 parsnips (scrub, cut out tough inner core, chop)
• 8-10 cups water or home-made vegetable broth
• 2 large roasted red pepper (cut into large chunks. Make yourself from fresh peppers, purchase in jars, or I have these already made in my freezer.)
• 3-4 cloves garlic
• 7 large Granny Smith apples, fresh (I used 1 pint unsweetened applesauce)
• 1-1/2 cup red lentils (wash and pick over to remove any stones)
• 2 tbsp salted butter (or olive oil)
• 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
• 3 tbsp sweet curry powder
• 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce, or add a few shakes of hot curry powder to taste
• Fresh parsley, cilantro, or other green herb, chopped, for garnish if desired

(1) Wash and cut apples, parsnips and red pepper into rough pieces and put in 4 qt slow cooker, leaving skins on all veggies.
(2) Combine all recipe ingredients in slow cooker with water (omit or add some water depending on volume of ingredients in pot).
(3) Cook on high until all ingredients are soft-about 2 - 3 hours.
(4) Then, using a hand blender very very carefully, puree all ingredients in cooker until smooth.
(5) Continue cooking on low until all flavors have combined and you're ready to eat!

Easy as pie. :-)

Makes 4 qts soup, about 14 servings.

Use a large soup pot for stove-top cooking if these ingredients will not all fit into the size of your slow-cooker. Make sure the lentils are cooked and not still chunky before you use the hand blender (also called an immersion blender).

(Photo: Curried Apple-Parsnip Soup in the big pot)

(Photo: Curried Apple-Parsnip Soup ready to eat!)

Here are a few other dishes that my friends brought, too. I don't have recipes and I don't even know exactly what some of these dishes were called, but it is still just fun looking at the photos. The evening was fantastic, filled with good (no GREAT!) food and friends. No one wanted to leave........Ahhhhh, life is good. :-)

(Photo: Home-made hummus, toasted pita chips, and roasted cauliflower with sumac)

(Photo: Bread selections with salmon-bean dip - I made this too)

(Photo: A delicious red lentil recipe)

(Photo: Rice with hot green peppers - spicy!)

(Photo: Roasted potatoes with blue cheese - to die for!)

(Photo: Meal overflowing my plate!)

(Photo: No, this is not Zingerman's delicious black olive bread as one person thought - surprise!, but Date - Walnut bread that I made too, a family favorite. I will post the recipe separately.)

I think the following blessing is the one I read that evening. If not, it is completely and utterly appropriate anyway, as I am so grateful for my friends (near and far, present and absent) with whom so much love and support are shared.

A circle of friends is a blessed thing.
Sweet is the breaking of bread with friends.
For the honor of their presence at our board
We are (I am) deeply grateful, Lord.

Thanks be to Thee for friendship shared,
Thanks be to Thee for food prepared.
Bless Thou the cup; bless Thou the bread;
Thy blessing rest upon each head.

~~ Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918)

Pleasant and delicious memories............ :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recipe: Red Lentil Curry Soup with Vegetables

"What is in this soup? There is such an interesting mix of flavors, textures, and colors", says my niece's boyfriend. What a nice compliment. However, I had to stop to think because I used what I had. I do use "what I have" in order to keep ingredients and bits and pieces moving through our refrigerator. It is very rare that something gets tossed into the compost pile (or worm bin) because it spoiled in our house.

It was good, very good. I am so glad I made a big pot of it!

Use this recipe as a guide, not gospel.

2 cups frozen fish broth
4 cups frozen vegetable broth
1 quart canned tomatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and chopped
6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 - 15 oz. can large white beans, like cannellini, drained and rinsed to remove salt
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen chopped sweet red pepper pieces
1-2 cups frozen kale strips (fresh would also be great)
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder
1 small shake of hot curry powder
Salt to taste - use only a very small smidge to start (that is all I used, less than 1/8 teaspoon)


(1) Thaw all broths, make your own or purchase some vegetable and/or fish broth. (the added fish broth did add a real depth to this soup's flavor)
(2) In large soup pot. heat olive oil, then lightly sauté onion and garlic.
(3) Add all broths, canned tomatoes, canned beans, frozen vegetables (except kale). lentils, and curry powder to soup pot.
(4) Bring to boil and simmer 20-30 minutes or so until red lentils are thoroughly cooked and soft.
(5) Add kale 5-10 minutes prior to eating. Do not overcook or overheat from this point forward so that the kale retains its beautiful green color.
(6) Salt to taste and add more curry powder if desired (sweet or hot per your family's tastes)

(Photo: Red Lentil Curry Soup with Vegetables - oops, I see a bay leaf that I must have added to the broths that needs to be removed prior to serving!)

This recipe as I have written it out makes a lot of soup. Don't let that keep you from making it. Freeze extra in meal-size containers for your family or single serving size containers. It will keep in the refrigerator for ~5 days or so, so you can also have lots available for quick lunches all week long. Enjoy - I just love the smell of curry wafting through the house. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recipe: Eggs with Bok Choi

On my 365DaysofKale blog, I posted a recipe for Eggs with Kale, that is essentially the same as this one. However, I wanted to show you how beautiful and easy it was to use half of the first locally-grown bok choi of the year that I purchased at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market last week.


• Brown rice (cooked already or start cooking first)
• 1/2 bunch bok choi - wash thoroughly and then chop into slim slices
• 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 small cloves garlic, peeled, smashed with a knife's flat surface and then finely chopped
• ~1 cup of frozen red pepper slices
• 2 eggs
• smoked paprika for garnish
• olive oil


Special Note: as mentioned above, start cooking the brown rice first and then time the chopping and cooking of the vegetables and eggs to coincide with the time that the rice is done. I often have left-over rice in the freezer all ready to thaw for a quick meal.

(1) Chop all vegetables
(2) Heat olive oil in pan over medium high
(3) Add onion and garlic, heat until translucent but not brown
(4) Add other vegetables, heat until starting to wilt
(5) Make little "nests" or depressions in the pile of vegetables in the pan
(6) Crack open eggs and put one egg into each depression (more than 2 eggs can be used here)
(7) Turn down heat to medium, cover pan
(8) Cook until the eggs are done the way you like them (I have always like my eggs done, done, done)

Serve over rice, pasta, a piece of toast, or even a baked potato. Sprinkle eggs with smoked paprika if desired, or even a bit of freshly grated cheese.

(Photo: Eggs with Bok choi)

(Photo: Eggs with bok choi over rice with salsa on the side)

I served this dish with some home-made salsa on the side plus some applesauce for a quick, easy, beautiful and delicious meal one night when my husband was out of town. This meal can easily be increased to feed many more people - just use a bigger skillet!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, March 22, 2010

Recipe - Sweet Potato Salmon Patties

Using what I have on hand, in the freezer, on the counter, hanging out in the frig, in the pantry, that is how I like best to cook. I think it is called "no recipe" but it is not the same as "no planning" because having so many ingredients available does take planning (at least previous shopping!).

So here is how I made some Sweet Potato - Salmon Patties a few weeks ago.


• 3 small to medium size sweet potatoes (not the jumbo ones) - bake in oven or microwave until cooked through, cool, peel, and mash well in large bowl
• 2 small cans of salmon (or one larger can) - do not drain, just put in bowl with sweet potato and flake with fork to mix well
• 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs - add to bowl and mix well (I always have these in my freezer, which I make in my blender or food processor from bread ends)
• 1 large egg (or 2 small ones) - beat in small bowl separately and then mix in thoroughly with other ingredients in larger bowl
• 2 Tbsp. Pike Place Market seafood seasoning (any brand will do, but with one Seattle-based son, this is what I have in my pantry) - mix in well with all other ingredients
• Optional topping: smoked paprika or chopped chives would add a nice touch of color when serving.


(1) Mix all ingredients together very thoroughly in a large bowl
(2) Make into 10-12 patties
(3) Bake or cook up in a skillet (I used my cast-iron skillet)
(4) These can be frozen well after cooking and then thawed at a future date for your own fast food!

(Photo: Sweet Potato - Salmon Patties)

(Photo: Sweet Potato - Salmon Patties -- close-up)

Serve on whole grain buns with freshly cooked vegetables and salad. I should have taken a photo of my dog inhaling the sweet potato peels, one of her favorite treats, followed by her licking the bowl, the place-mat under her bowl and then the floor while looking for more!

Easy, easy, easy as long as you have all these basic ingredients in the house. Put them on your next shopping list for a delicious and quick meal!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Recipe - Rhubarb Scones

I'm pushing spring by having such a taste for rhubarb. Well, good thing I still have some of our own rhubarb chopped ready to use in the freezer! So what was easy to make, yummy, and also easy to freeze again? Rhubarb scones - yum, yum, yum!

I modified this recipe from a couple I saw on the web. I'm beginning to think I don't need ALL the cookbooks that I love to look at. :-)


• 1 - 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 2 - 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened soymilk)
• 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt (we make our own)
• 1 egg
• 2 stalks rhubarb, cut into cubes (I used 2 cups of frozen rhubarb cubes, thawed just slightly)
• 1-2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds (optional)


(1) Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
(2) Preheat oven to 400°F.
(3) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
(4) In small bowl mix milk and egg. Drizzle over dry ingredients stirring with fork to make a dough (dough will be wet and sticky).
(5) Knead in the rhubarb. Stir with stiff spoon or use your clean fingers!
(6) Form a ball with dough, place on baking sheet, pat down into circle about 8 inches wide and cut into 8 triangles.
(7) Sprinkle with ground flaxseeds if desired.
(8) Bake in center of oven for 12-15 minutes. If using frozen (versus fresh) rhubarb, the scones WILL need to be baked just a few minutes more to thoroughly cook (mine needed to be cooked ~25 minutes total). Test with toothpick before removing from oven. If top is getting brown but inside is still sticky, cover top with foil while cooking a few minutes more until done (I did this). Let cool on wire wrack until warm but not hot.

(Photo: Rhubarb Scones fresh out of oven - still needs to be sliced)

Serve warm (yummy, yummy). If any are left over, store in an airtight container or slice and freeze. Also very good toasted and served with just a thin spread of strawberry jam.

Even cutting this dough before cooking was not enough to keep it separated like traditional scones when baking. This is a very light dough - it is not heavy like many scones, but is delicious and a great way to push spring. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Winter's Gone!

Ah, yes, spring is bursting forth even as our week of unseasonably warm weather goes back to normal temperatures for this time of year (highs in the 40's). I am sure we'll get more snow (we always do) but here is a pix of my usual winter gear that I can start to think about getting packed away for next year.

(Photo: Please note - this is NOT a fashion statement - or maybe it is about my lack thereof - ha ha! Winter gear left to right consists of old 1970's down coat, wool scarf from New Zealand, warm gloves with long cuffs to cover my wrists, tissues for a cold drippy nose, hat that covers the ears and stays tied on, tall to the knees gaiters to keep the snow out of my boots and keep my legs warm and dry, ice-grippy things for my boots so I can still walk even when there is ice, warm and waterproof boots, heaters for my gloves and shoes and pants pockets when I come back inside, wrists bands that are just great for one more barrier against the cold to stay warm outside, not pictured - my silk long-underwear. I think that's it! Getting ready to walk the dog is a wee bit time consuming, must to the consternation of Kaya!)

Our farmers' market yesterday was the busiest of the year. It was downright hopping at 9 am! Here is what I purchased:

(Photo: Ann Arbor Farmers' Market purchase 3.21.10, starting in the upper left and going clock-wise: bok choi, bibb lettuce, fresh spinach, fresh kale, eggs, pea shoots, shitake mushrooms, roasted red pepper mustard (a Gold Medal winner at the Napa Valley Mustard Festival this month!), and potatoes. Purchases came from Our Family Farm, Brines Farm, GardenWorks, Goetz Farm, Sansonetti Mustards and Sauces, and Michigan Mushrooms. I like to know my farmers, a phrase actually coined by Shannon Brines of Brines Farm before the USDA began using it last year.)

All these greens were grown in local hoop houses, which are 4 season green houses that use passive solar energy. Our big news this week is that our application to the USDA for a grant to build one at our new farm was APPROVED - WOO HOO!

Last thing that was big news this week - arghhhhh..........with only a few minutes of unsupervised time, Kaya found her way into a cupboard that had chocolate chips in it. Sigh.......mucho dollars later, she is resting comfortably back at home, with her pink bandage on the IV site, and unable to connect the dots between the recent hustle/bustle/worry and overnight stay at the animal hospital with her morning sneaky indulgence. It was difficult to determine just how much she ate, so we did wait a few hours to triage, by which time her heart-rate was over 200 and her back legs had no strength at all.

(Photo: Kaya perhaps looking a tiny bit guilty but showing off her IV bandage. Not pictured is the humiliating "collar", which we had to purchase also because, of course, she would not just leave that IV site alone!)

Happy Spring to you, wherever you live. Much more to come here in the upper Midwest. - :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, March 13, 2010

National Dietitian Day - It's all about change!

I missed making an official posting on March 10, 2010, which was the 2nd Annual National Dietitian Day, as part of National Nutrition Month each March. Thus this posting is late but also still 'on time', because it is never too late for change.

I mentioned in my most recent post that I had just spoken to the club on the Michigan State University campus comprised of student dietitians and nutrition majors, specifically being asked to talk to them about the importance of learning how food is grown (meaning agriculture, i.e., from the ground up). As I said, what better way to highlight the theme for this year's National Nutrition Month, which is "Nutrition from the ground up!".

So it was very interesting to me that an on-going discussion within a professional listserv of oncology dietitians has also touched on these concerns, specifically questioning why healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables cost so much more than processed foods, soda, etc. One member of this listserv asked the best question, i.e., how can we advocate for change of policies currently in place to turn this equation upside down?

This is such a relevant and important topic for discussion because dietitians need to use their professional knowledge and influence everywhere possible to advocate for development or change in policies in order promote health and wellness, i.e., prevent costly and debilitating disease, in addition to having the expertise and influence to help treat disease with Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT).

I have done some thinking about this, so I took a few minutes to reply to my professional colleagues and friends. Here is what I posted. Much of it will be helpful to all of my blog readers in addition to my colleagues. Special note: First go make a cup of tea to sip while reading. My response is a wee bit lengthy, even though I think I was very succinct, and in addition, you may find yourself wandering off to some of the links I have provided. :-)


"So, how do we go about advocating for this kind of change?"

My answer:

This is such an excellent question and really addresses how we as RDs (and also as citizens in this country) can move beyond talking the talk to walking the walk.

There are several places to start with change. First and foremost is in your own home. Angie Tagtow, MS, RD developed "Good Food Checklists" when she was a Food and Society Fellow for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (, a non-profit organization whose mission is "to work locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems". I have links to all 3 of her checklists on the left side of my blog. They are for: RDs, Families, and Public Health Practitioners. They are fabulous (!!!) checklists to help people see what they are already doing and give them manageable bite-size steps for becoming more local and more sustainable with their food choices.

Secondly, I strongly suggest joining the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (HEN DPG), which is at the forefront of all these concerns and is really a DPG for all RDs, no matter your area of clinical specialty. Who isn't being asked about organic foods, BPA, mercury in our fish, etc etc etc? HEN members wrote the Hot Topic "Perspective on Benefits of organic foods" for ADA, sponsors the Film Feastival at FNCE (wildly popular event) where last year the documentary FRESH: A New Way of Eating was shown followed by an enlightening and invigorating panel discussion, I could go on and on. HEN is the fastest growing DPG within ADA. I can assure you that when the next Farm Bill is being written and debated in Congress, HEN will have their finger on the pulse of that bill and be sharing information on their lively listserv and email blitzes about how to approach your elected members of Congress.

Thirdly, I recommend participating in ADA's Public Policy Workshop. This experience is practical, fun, and valuable. It is important for all RDs to understand that our government's current agriculture policies do not support, and in fact can even be said to undermine, our same government's health policies and goals. (A NYTimes opinion article My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables) is just one example of this contradiction.) Being involved in policy development and/or change is how RDs can really maximize their knowledge and professional influence for positive change for their own patients/clients and their community. Having said that, I hope ADA extends their 2010 National Nutrition Month theme of "Nutrition from the ground up" to pull out all the stops in helping members be involved with shaping the next Farm Bill.

Fourth, read ADA Position Paper Food and Nutrition Professionals can Implement Practices to Conserve Natural Resources and Support Ecological Sustainability. This position paper is currently being rewritten (I volunteered and was selected to review it and add my comments regarding how to make it even stronger), but it is a very good starting point.

Fifth, download (for free) and read at least parts of the special edition of the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Vol 4, Issues 3&4, 2009 - Food Systems and Public Health: Linkages to Achieve Healthier Diets and Healthier Communities. This is an excellent journal and available for only $15/year for members of HEN DPG.

I could go on and on, but I will end with one last recommendation. I suggest reading the following journal article: "Civic dietetics: opportunities for integrating civic agriculture concepts into dietetic practice" by Jennifer Wilkins, PhD, RD, in the journal Agriculture and Human Values Volume 26, Numbers 1-2 / March, 2009.

Oops, one final comment. Don't wait for someone else to figure out what needs to be done, or the best way to do it, or to send funding from Washington. Look around in your own clinic, your children's school, your own home, etc. What questions do you have? What needs do you see? What "bugs you"? What skills and passions do you bring to the table? Jump in wherever your spirit moves you to do so. Creating healthier food systems for your own local community is really a grass-roots effort (again, literally from the ground up!) and there are many "best answers" that will ultimately lead our nation to healthier, wealthier, more food-secure, and happier communities.

Oops again! I like to get poke around the following websites and also get updates by email from:
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
American Farmland Trust
Food Democracy Now
Food and Water Watch

Here is my contribution to the wealth and health of my local community today, my purchases at our local Ann Arbor Farmers' Market this morning. If every family in Michigan would spend just $10 per week on locally grown food, that intentional action would keep $37 Million in Michigan (same concept is true for your state, too) each and every week, money that circulates locally and magnifies its economic impact in uncountable ways.

Photo: Spring greens purchased at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market March 13, 2010 - Bok Choi from My Family Farm (upper left), Spicy Assortment from Goetz Farm (upper right) and Claytonia from Brines Farm (front center). The little willow basket holding the claytonia was made by my friend who writes the beautiful blog Dandelion Haven.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Dietitian-Farmer

Currently I think many RDs are also aspiring to be chefs, and I know a few RDs who were chefs first. However, I think Dietitian/Farmer may become the next "hot" career combination. Here is a great article featuring a dietitian and her husband who are starting their next career as new farmers. It gives me a charge to see that they are also not 'young' new farmers, just like us!

What better way to highlight the theme for this year's National Nutrition Month, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, which is "Nutrition from the ground up!".

Last week I had the pleasure of being asked to speak to the club at Michigan State University comprised of student dietitians and nutrition majors, specifically being asked to talk to them about the importance of learning how food is grown (meaning agriculture, i.e., from the ground up). I ended my talk by compiling a list of career opportunities showing what dietitians are doing now that intersects with growing food, i.e., 'nutrition from the ground up'. In fact I know several RDs who are also farmers. Take home point: Dietitians should be "shovel-ready" in addition to be "knife-ready" like the dietitian-chefs. :-)

I hope a few of these young and earnest students caught my "vision" and passion right now for expanding the profession of dietetics to include sustainable agriculture and food systems as its base. In addition, I hope I gave them all some seeds of thought to cultivate for their future goals as an RD. I would just love to have one/some of them come to intern on our farm. I always have more ideas than I can ever put into action myself. It would be fun to have other ideas for how to best market our garlic and produce at the farmers' markets. And there will always be weeding that needs to be done!

(Photo: Farmers' Market shopping bag)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD