UT Extension Invites Tennesseans to Participate and Enjoy International Food Cultures and Traditions
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Food plays an important role in everyone’s life, and this year’s National Nutrition Month invites individuals and families to “Celebrate a World of Flavors,” highlighting the rich diversity of flavors, textures and dishes present in cuisines worldwide. University of Tennessee Extension is partnering with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for this effort the entire month of March.
“Food gives our bodies the energy and nutrients we need to learn, grow and participate in activities that we enjoy,” says Kristen Johnson, UT Extension assistant professor and nutrition specialist. “Beyond nourishing our bodies, food is an important part of our culture, our traditions and our celebrations.”
According to Johnson, healthful foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins combine with herbs, spices, flavorful sauces and more to create a rich tapestry of dishes across the world. “There are countless opportunities to explore the world around us, learn from our neighbors and incorporate new dishes into our eating routine,” adds the expert.
During National Nutrition Month, Johnson encourages Tennesseans and others to reap the benefits that come from experiencing the rich cultures, traditions and flavors available. Food brings people together and sharing food cultures and traditions with others provides an opportunity to learn from each other and to better understand one another.
This also presents an opportunity to identify new tastes, dishes and cuisines to add to current eating habits. Johnson suggests finding a new recipe to try online or swapping recipes with a neighbor to engage with new foods and flavors. Another idea is to host a dinner party to explore foods reflected in the heritage and cultures of friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or others.
“Through technology, we are better able to connect with others when circumstances make in-person gatherings difficult. A virtual cook-a-long is one fun way to connect, share and learn from others,” adds Johnson. “These activities also are a great way to expose children to a variety of foods, textures and flavors, which may help them accept and enjoy a variety of dishes as they grow.”
As we celebrate the flavors from food cuisines worldwide, remember to explore the history and traditions of the foods that are close to home and that we enjoy regularly. Explore how the geography, history and culture of your area influences the foods you enjoy today or investigate the history of your favorite foods or dishes. In the southern U.S., many of the traditional foods we often enjoy, like collard and other leafy greens, black-eyed peas, okra and sweet potatoes, originate from the rich flavors and nutritious foods from African culinary history. During National Nutrition Month, and beyond, we encourage you to take a moment to explore and celebrate the rich flavors, cultures and traditions present throughout the world.
For recipe ideas or to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating, contact your local county UT Extension office. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.