A couple of weeks ago we did a follow up cooking and nutrition lesson with our Karen families and the UNC nutrition coalition. The Karen come from a subsistence agriculture lifestyle in Burma where what you grow is what you eat. Then suddenly to the United States where grocery stores are filled with rows of unfamiliar processed foods with complicated nutrition facts labels and serving size confusion! So after cooking a delicious lentil, sweet potato, kale, carrot and bell pepper stew (secret ingredient was cinnamon) and a beet and kale salad, Sarah, Ester and Samantha did a thorough lesson on understanding a nutrition facts label. Understanding a nutrition fact label is a crucial tool for being able to make healthy food choices but can be hard for even us native Americans. Luckily, it seems that most of the Karen adults still have their cooking traditions deeply rooted in making fresh meals from scratch and healthy eating is just part of their culture. However, some of the mothers have expressed concerns to me about their children who are growing up in the U.S. as they told me they have noticed them gaining weight. It can be hard to get around the dilemma of helping low-income families eat well. As we all know, cheap food is often
not very good for you, filled with empty calories and saturated fats. Of course a big goal of this program is to help families grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables giving them the power to change their lives through food. I know the nutrition lesson was highly appreciated and I hope to run into some of our families in the grocery store dutifully reading the nutrition facts label! Thanks also to the Carrboro United Methodist Church for giving us access to their lovely kitchen. Until next year–Happy Holidays to all!