By Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN
Monsanto Vegetables Division
As part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) National Nutrition Month, we celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day to recognize RDNs, including our own Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, for advancing the nutritional literacy of Americans and people around the world. Now a few words from Wendy…
When I began my career as a registered dietitian nearly two decades ago, I never saw myself at an agricultural company. Sometimes, when I am counting my blessings, I wonder – how did I get here? Perhaps you’re also surprised.
Some may view dietitians as healthcare professionals in white coats constantly spewing diet advice and warnings about unhealthy eating. The way I see it, this view presents a real occupational hazard, particularly in telling folks you’re a registered dietitian at any gathering where celebratory food is present. You are either explaining yourself or helping others feel less guilty about that special treat that is making you salivate.
In reality, today’s dietitians are cheerleaders for healthful eating and active living, yes. But they are also change agents, advocating healthful choices across many sectors and industries, including at the foundation of our food system. In fact, in many cases, registered dietitians provide sought-after and critical insights into the many facets of our complex food chain.
My role at Monsanto’s vegetable seed division is to communicate the farm-to-table connection from seed to supermarket to sauté pan, engaging multiple perspectives, including dietitians, to improve vegetable consumption. I love my job.
This year, the theme of AND’s National Nutrition Month is Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right – a concept that Monsanto’s vegetable seed division takes to heart. Our goal is simple: get people to eat and enjoy more fruits and vegetables. We believe that there’s science and agricultural innovation at the heart of healthy eating. In our vegetable business, we believe in and are focused on helping people consume more nutritious food starts with produce that grows better and looks and tastes delicious.
Coincidentally, taste is an excellent place for nutrition newbies to begin. Your eyes, nose and taste buds instinctively lead you to foods you love. Enjoy new foods and flavors by making small changes in preparing your favorite meals, such as adding a new vegetable or trying a different cooking technique, No doubt you can find unexpected and delicious ways to eat healthier.
As a mother of three young children, I understand that it can be a real challenge to put nutritious foods on the dinner table each night – and in five minutes flat. My recommendation is to involve your kids in meal planning, preparation and serving – which can sound daunting, I know, but really can lay a great foundation for your family’s long-term health. It can be fun too! I’ll be honest – my family’s meals are rarely gourmet. One of our fast favorites is a simple “picnic-style” dinner on the family room floor – complete with blanket, paper plates, a variety of cheeses, whole grain crackers, sliced fruit and fresh-cut veggies with hummus dip. If a fresh new recipe is what you’re after, check out my friend, Amber’s new Stirlist blog; the buffalo chicken salad is delish! You can get connected to more National Nutrition Month bloggers here.
As a dietitian, fitness instructor and parent, my walk through the produce aisle is far from typical. My time at Monsanto has given me a deeper understanding of the foods I put in my cart – where they come from and who grows them. I have an immense appreciation for the many farmers who nurture our seeds until they reap high quality, delicious vegetables. Thank you.
As we celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, I want to give a shout out to all the RDNs out there helping healthy eating happen. I salute you and all your hard work. Promoting good flavor – and good nutrition – involves the dedication of many folks around the dinner table and around the world, from farmers to registered dietitian nutritionists to mom and dad. Let’s keep doing our best to help everyone enjoy the GREAT taste of eating right!
Please share your story about you enjoy the great taste of healthy eating.