Foodways, Healthy Eating & Wellness makes correlated assessments between (1) the eating habits and culinary practices of our local residents, region, or historical heritage; (2) the quality of choices we make in everyday eating habits and our cultural lifeways that affect our health; as well as (3) our overall state of personal wellness (physical and mind), as much as organizational wellness (e.g., restaurants, markets, workplaces, schools, senior care, etc.).

Participants consider the use of land within neighborhoods, districts and outlying areas that are comprehensive of urban to rural issues; including a particular community, its greater region, as well as its surrounding open spaces; therein, improving a community’s way of life and orientation.

COMMUNIQUÉ

Participants in foodways, healthy eating and wellness include (by their field) food service and hospitality professionals; nutritionists; dietitians; nurses; caregivers; culinarians; anthropologists; folklorists; sociologists; historians; food scholars; faith-based chaplains; etc.

STRATEGIC PLANNING & TASKING

Advocates for local foodways, healthy eating, and wellness can start by sharing ideas and experiences independently amongst each other, then organize with diverse participants and stakeholders in the community that work in disciplines and fields of related concern that can organize at large with local groups and move towards initiatives that…

  • Improve nutritional quality of food and beverages.
  • Assess the nutritional and physical activity needs of the community and determine priorities. Develop an action plan, and commit to activities that are appropriate for the community to enhance foodways, healthy eating, and wellness.
  • Identify and assess the quality of food in the community with a significant focus on the needs of youth and seniors in the community (such as at local schools, assisted care and community centers). Set new and better standards of procurement, preparation, and food service of lunches during the regular day, including snacks from vending machines and gift offerings.
  • Evaluate the needs and funding of lunches provided at schools and senior centers as provided for by subsidized programs from the local to federal level.   Consider all day and all year needs, including holidays and downtimes.
  • Evaluate portion sizes and food combinations in meals, suggesting necessary changes.
  • Increase participation in public food and wellness programs, including the number of eligible children and seniors for meal programs at schools and senior community centers, etc.

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES & PRIORITIES

Foodways, healthy eating, and wellness begin with every meal and with each and every plate at the table.  Many Americans still rely on the USDA’s long established and familiar Food Pyramid when planning meals, that’ts even though it’s since become outmoded and replaced.   The USDA’s original guide suggested an optimal number of servings from the basic food groups. Nowadays, the USDA uses the MyPlate program to help Americans make healthy choices.  Yet, all considered, such programs are best strengthened, as well as made relevant when considered with local foodways.   Planning meals and plating food for standards of healthy eating, and wellness, are particular to a person’s given environment and heritage.

Parents, families and caregivers are an integral part of the socialization of foodways, healthy eating, and wellness.  Yet, people live busy lives with many challenges, so they often need adequate tools, support, and information to make better choices.   Good eating habits in family life realize the shared needs of children, parents, and seniors; whereas, it’s fostered by sitting together at the table and being fulfilled with sustenance, conviviality, and culturally rich experiences.  Sustainable foodways invigorate us over a lifetime.

Realizing the relationships between eating with family, cultural foodways, and general dietary guidelines help put forth healthy eating; but they also create conscientiousness about chronic and hereditary diseases.  Your family’s medical history helps determine whether or not you are more or less likely to get cancer, diabetes, or other illnesses.  Foodways, healthy eating habits, and general wellness should also be determined by your family’s health history, its genetic susceptibilities, the shared environment, as well as the common behaviors of your parents and siblings. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain cancers are all found in your family’s medical background; whereas, we should be aware of risk factors when choosing diets.

Leadership and consistent messaging  can be developed that establishes foodways, healthy eating, and wellness as priorities for the community.  Communicate wellness of the heart, mind, and body; in addition to overall health, such as healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Organizing a committee and grassroots effort centered on health and wellness, therein involving community centers, cultural and faith-based organizations, etc. can serve to implement programs that represent diverse forms and populations.

Identifying the tiers of the food system in the community is essential to a thorough analysis and public initiative, therein considering sources that represent a personal production of food; direct producer to consumer; strategic partners in supply chain relationships; large volume aggregation and distribution; and global, anonymous aggregation and distribution.

Grassroots efforts create the demands amongst a community to develop, support and expand community gardens, farmers’ markets, and public markets throughout the greater area.   Neighborhood residents can make strategic initiatives that support local farms and gardens as the leading providers to restaurants, schools and communities with fresh produce and other goods.  That, in turn, creates a more dynamic food system and cultural ethic across the entire spectrum.

Participants must act in ways that empower these initiatives, causing local people to organize and working together at community activities, encouraging the market demand for strong foodways, healthy eating and community wellness.

Beyond commercial demands, residents can set and enforce policies for general wellness and nutrition in the community, especially at schools and senior care facilities.

The medical community, including doctors and nurses, can collaborate to address obesity and regularly monitor children’s BMIs.  Initiative for healthy eating must be inspired at early life stages.  Ways that individuals and families can increase healthy eating and activities can be prescribed.

Useful information about food choices is appropriate upon the point-of-purchase. This includes information on the culture of food products and their significance within foodways; as well as benefits to healthy eating and the choices we make.

Meals in more “high-risk” areas, namely for after-school programs; seniors lacking personal support; homeless people; etc. are often overlooked, but must be ensured.

Drinking water in schools and public facilities must have improved access.

VALUES & CONCEPTS

✮ We need beautiful, aromatic, tasty, sensual food.  We yearn to be nourished with good eats… just as much as we need clean water and air.  Our collective future thrives, as much  as it depends on our ability to understand the relationship between these elements.  From rural farms to urban markets and restaurants of our local neighborhoods and region, it’s a combination of traditional foodways and modern food systems that sustain our life on this planet.  It’s food, beverages and other nutrients that give us the energy to be active, participatory, physically fit and mindfully alert.

✮ The links to food, nutrition and its culture of hospitality is what brings wellness to all individuals, young and old.  Our wanting to eat is an aspect of our human survival; therefore, our desire is tied in with — as much as it’s engaging — our culture, traditions, and history.

✮ Our cultivation of land, plants and livestock sustain us, as much as it has a heterotrophic relationship, tying us in and engaging us with our ecology.  In turn,  our ecology is just as much about our own man-made surroundings that are found in cities at which we live, as it is about the natural world in which those cities and rural communities are bound.

✮ The dynamics and sustainability of our ecology directly relate to our quality of life, health, and wellness.  Our food systems and foodways are integral to our overall lifestyles, including its occupations and welfare.

✮ The full gamut of food issues encompasses cultural, social and economic aspects, all of that relating to our production and consumption thereof.  The patterns of our culture, traditions and history intersect in our foodways.  This, in turn, dictates our habits, particular to any given space and time.  That’s whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner; if not simply just taking a snack.  Whatever the day or occasion, our mood for various foods is seemly and specific.    A meaning to what and why we eat exists, beyond our basic sustenance, or even recipe and taste.   In regards to food and eating, our attitudes, practices and rituals are a reflection of our world view and orientations.

✮ There is experience, expression, and story to every aspect of the food system and its ways; that’s such as from cultivation, sourcing, distribution, acquisition, preparation and finally to consumption.

There is an unfolding story in the sharing of food and meals.  That story is found in all its cornucopia; as well as its heritage of recipes and technique; but, also with the exclusion of others from that banquet, from having access to sustenance and even from the power to cultivate, share or trade with others.  Beyond the story of those that go hungry, is the realization of our own excess and its indifference.

✮ Sharing recipes and creating forums about local foodways and healthy eating helps make an easier effort of putting forth nutritious and enjoyable meals on the table every day. Participants can share family recipes, cookbooks, online blogs and websites, articles, etc. Compiling and promoting these recipes amongst each other, learning cultural traditions, techniques, presentations, and so on, enriches the entire experience of good eating and conviviality.  Recipes can be geared towards parents, beginning home cooks, and even the most experienced chefs that are looking to satisfy customer desires, or to improve their knowledge base and skill set.

 Planning, purchasing, and preparation are the basics of creating great meals at home or within a professional environment.  Eating healthy and conscientiously of local foodways doesn’t have to be more complicated or even cost more money.

The entire family (or organization) should participate in that process, each person having an open, dedicated and cooperative role.  When at home, mealtimes should even include tasks for children and seniors, such as setting the table; picking fruits and vegetables from the garden; basic food prepping; washing dishes, organizing the pantry, deciding what’s to eat (today, and throughout the week); as well as which recipe to cook and include in the diary, etc.

Professional cooking environments can rethink the roles of individual employees and the divisions of labor so that there’s a better ethic of shared work responsibility; mutual appreciation and cooperation; cross-training; menu and recipe contribution; fairness in criticism and other input; shared mealtime preparation; rudimentary preparations and tasking; dignity and value of labor; etc.

Meal planning shouldn’t be looked at as a mere necessity or responsibility of a few particular individuals, but the volunteered participation, generosity and unrestricted enjoyment of everyone that eats at the table.  If someone asks “what’s for dinner?”, that may well be a hint at inadequate planning, as much as a lack of participation, and consideration of what’s available in your pantry.  Think ahead and plan for smart shopping, as much as you have in mind the rotation of a week’s menu.

 Plating and presentation affects participation, conviviality and amount of food waste.  Not everyone eats the same quantities or has the same dietary needs, but try sharing mixed family style platters from which people can be part of a communal meal and yet still choose to take sensible portions or abstain from unwanted foods.  This  allows people to take only what they need or desire, leaving leftover foods commonly for others to enjoy.  This helps reduce the waste from individual plates; but, it also creates an ethic of shared experience, as well as sensitivity and conscientiousness to other people’s needs, especially with regards to aging and lifestyle.

 Our regional environment often determines our nutritional and culinary habits.

 Our foodways and healthy eating habits must adapt to a general sense of wellness within the population, as much as in our work and organization.  This includes general areas such as mental health, occupational health, diet, exercise, and sleep.  Advocates should be up to date with scientific studies and opinions about health and wellness, as much as public health policies and self-care strategies.

 Good  and optimal care — with the aim of personal and organizational wellness — is sensitive to people’s well-being, happiness, and satisfaction.  It keeps in mind their aspirations, needs, and contentment; as well as that it acknowledges their disappointment and disapproval.

 Healthy environments and organizations are attentive to people’s anxieties and hostility; create calm and relaxing places without being dull, sluggish or repressive; create pleasant and enthusiastic places without being annoyingly chipper or pollyanna.  They recognize and celebrate social diversity, including personal roles, contributions, subjectivity, circumstance, economics, education and friendly competition.

✮ Foodways, healthy eating, and wellness are reflective of a greater worldview and initiative. The constitution of the  World  Health Organization (WHO) states that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  These goals must be achieved universally, regardless of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.  That also includes qualities of nourishment and satiation; peace and security; harmonious development and stability; attainable knowledge and education; opinion and active co-operation; public health and social measures.

METHODOLOGY & TOOLS

Local preservationists and advocacy groups  are often the first to organize and plan an elongated process that can reach from local to federal and even world designations.

Neighborhood associations and preservationist groups can supply tremendous resources and education to individuals in their community, including:

  • Pledges, rallies, and initiatives by stakeholders in the-the community that challenge its participants to competitively improve nutrition standards; excel in audit standards; as well as to provide transparency thereof in schools, care centers, restaurants, etc.  In turn, provide resources to the community that help realize these initiatives, as well as access the information.
  • Recognition, rewards and encouragement to participants that provide easier access, participation and overall transparency in their food programs, especially with the inclusion of nutritional facts of meals, healthy eating, and local foodways.
  • Liaisons between the various sectors of the tiered food system, the main purpose of which is to meet such initiatives.  Work with food service establishments to improve the training of foodways, healthy eating, and wellness, especially at schools and senior centers.
  •  Programs and events that promote local foodways and beverages within the general community, such as festivals.
  • Hospitality at all community meetings, programs, and events. Create friendly environments; a sharing and generous ethic; as well as improved interest and participation.   Ensure quality food and beverage offerings, even if just snacks.
  • Programs and events at schools that promote local foodways, healthy eating, and wellness, therein connecting participants with the greater vision and initiatives of the region, state and nation.
  • Surveys of the area that reveal the quantity and quality of food sources, as well as its diversity. Determine special needs by using census data in high-poverty, remote and blighted areas, rather than by paper applications.