Since 2014, Groundwork has been hosting gatherings—roughly one every 18 months—to explore and promote the idea of deploying culinary medicine as a way to address some of the most challenging diet-related diseases facing our people as individuals and facing our nation as a whole. Some gatherings focused on teaching medical professionals, while others catered to the general public, or a blend of professionals and laypeople.
This September 22–24, we are excited to hold a gathering upon the 10th anniversary of our inaugural conference. We asked Groundwork’s lead organizer of the event, Paula Martin, Community Nutrition Specialist, to share thoughts about the purpose and potential.
Interview with Paula Martin, Groundwork Community Nutrition Specialist.
What are you most excited about for this next culinary medicine training session?
One of the overarching aspects of the trainings that has me very excited is celebrating 10 years of good, hard work among all of these partners who will be attending. It will be a joyful celebration seeing people, making eye contact, thanking them in person for the work they have moved forward. You know, our health care providers have been pushed to the brink during the pandemic and many of them are still spent, still in the process of bouncing back. This will be a time to celebrate them and buoy them up for the days ahead. With culinary medicine we will have better outcomes for patients as we continue along this path, but if our medical providers themselves aren’t in a healthy space, we won’t ever get there. I’m ready to get to work and bring joy into some age old mantras of “physicians heal thyselves” and “see one, do one, teach one” basics that we all learned during the university years.
What’s a central theme of this year’s training presentations?
Last year the White House released its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. We are honing in on that strategy, highlighting work that aligns with the pillars of the national strategy. We’ll also be discussing the research people are doing in our region. I sent a response to the National Institutes of Health when they asked about the type of research our nation needs to improve access to healthy food. Basically I plugged our region as a region ready for research because we have systems in place. Our infrastructure is strong and good, and our outreach networks are ready to roll. If you want to study a rural population regarding food as medicine, we are the place.
The audience focus has varied in the past. Who will be attending this year?
We will be having a smaller, more intimate training session this year. The focus will be on providers (doctors, nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, chefs and food service professionals) in the 10-county region of northwest lower Michigan. There will be many faculty members who have been part of the culinary medicine conversation since the beginning. They’ll be sharing the research they have been doing and describing who they have brought into their clinical care process. We will have everybody in the same room. And while the training content will be focused on our regional foodshed, we will be sharing programs and resources that can be replicated for providers across the nation.
Learn more at our Farms, Food & Health Trainings web page!
Interview by Jeff Smith, Communications Director