By Teresa Suits, agricultural education and communication master’s student (BS ’17)
National Nutrition Month is celebrated every March in an effort to inform and educate the public about how to best feed and take care of our bodies. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences interviewed Abigail Starcher, a senior dietetics major volunteering with In the Kitchen: Cooking Series, a series hosted by the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department and Field & Fork campus food program.
Q: What is your role in the cooking series?
A: I help come up with the recipes that we’re doing each time and manage the RSVPs, as well as the formatting of the recipes. I also present the demos monthly to participants.
Q: Why is nutrition month important?
A: I think it is extremely important because nutrition is how we fuel our bodies. It not only impacts our personal health, but it goes wider and deeper into the community because it plays a huge role in the economy and the vitality of any community large or small.
Q: What is the purpose of the cooking series?
A: The cooking demonstrations promote local food consumption and cooking for yourself. A lot of it revolves around how to prepare fresh vegetables and fruits. We use a lot of the produce from the campus gardens, and we focus the demo around fruits and vegetables that are in season. It takes a holistic approach to health by connecting people to their food source and teaching them how to bring in fruits and vegetables that are straight off the farm. It also connects people with the seasons and with their local growers.
Q: How does the cooking series help participants better understand nutrition and how their food is grown?
A: I think the cooking series helps people gain a basic understanding of what the food cycle looks like from farm to table. We also use very simple methods and terms so it doesn’t sound intimidating. It also gets people comfortable with the thought of preparing their own food and using fresh produce, as well as experimenting with recipes.
Q: What will be offered at the next Cooking Series presentation?
A: The next cooking series demonstration will be held March 15, and will feature “Sweet and Savory Spring” flavors. Make sure you register by March 13 for a spot in this awesome cooking series. Learn more about this monthly series by visiting this link.
Q: What have you learned while working on this project?
A: I have learned how to cook and talk at the same time. I have also learned how to adapt different lessons to different learning styles, and how to meet people where they are at in what they already know. I have learned a lot of cooking techniques and nutrition facts, too.
Q: What tips do you have for sustainable healthy daily habits?
A: Balance is a huge tip. Everything in moderation is one of my favorite quotes to live by because I think anything can fit, it’s just a matter of proportion. Searching for variety and balance in the variety is crucial.