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Interview with Sara Baer-Sinnott from Oldways

 

In March 2013 I was introduced to Sara Baer-Sinnott from Oldways (http://oldwayspt.org/) by a friend and asked her for a short interview about the Oldways organisation and her food experience and views.

The call turned out to be 45 inspiring minutes and I enjoyed interviewing Sara very much.

Sara, please tell me a little bit about Oldways and what you do

Sara: We are a US based non profit food and nutrition education organisation. Our mission is to help people to live a healthier life through traditional foods and eating. We started down this path over 20 years ago when we first introduced Americans to the Mediterranean diet. The old ways of cooking in the Mediterranean region are both delicious and healthy, and much can be learned from the culinary and cultural traditions in these countries.

We started to organise culinary tours in Mediterranean countries to show these old ways of cooking and bring this knowledge to the US. In the early days of Oldways, we organized culinary and cultural symposiums, with 40 – 150 health professionals, journalists, chefs or people who wanted to learn about the Mediterranean Diet and the culinary and cultural traditions in different countries.  I’m very proud that we have had an impact on restaurants’ menus, how families cook and eat together, and how thousands of people see and experience food.

Tell me how people normally react when they discover what food can be like and when they see how people handled food the old way?

Sara: This experience sometimes has the power to change some people’s lives. Food is life and a different connection to food brings a richer life. Food is what brings families and friends together. Having that inspiring experience of enjoying food in the old way has even changed how some families live together. Food is also a reflection of culture. In that sense you could say that people who change their connection to food, experience a new culture. This new culture changes how they live together, how they interact with their friends and families, and can result in a healthier lifestyle. I have seen actual examples of this happening. One of my friends struggled with her weight for many years and after following the Mediterranean Diet, she lost a lot of weight and now lives a far healthier life than before.

Do you see a change of the food culture in the US?

Sara: Oh yes! As one example, only a few years ago hummus was largely unknown in US. Another example is Greek yoghurt. I think the US is experiencing more and more good food from other countries and cultures. Also the cookbook market has changed dramatically and is now much more diverse and offers a large variety of high quality books from all countries of the Mediterranean region. Also more and more restaurants have Mediterranean foods on their menus and chefs adopted Mediterranean methods, such as using olive oil instead of butter, for cooking food. In addition, similar to Mediterranean and European lifestyles, there are many more farmers’ markets in the US, and many Americans have begun looking for local foods.  We are making major steps forward to a healthier life with better food in the US, and I’m proud that Oldways has contributed to this change.

Sara, what does good food mean to you?

Good food is about appreciation and pleasure.  From understanding where food comes from, to choosing to prepare healthy, wholesome meals and enjoying these meals in the company of friends and family.  Food is a celebration and the more we embrace this way of thinking and share it with others the healthier we will all become.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Matthias Tesi Baur

Matthias Tesi Baur

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