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What is New is What is Now: A Message From Our President

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year’s from the Oldways staff!

In a recent issue of W magazine, Editor-in-Chief Stefano Tonchi mused that obsession with the “new” is like a drug, one that you’re hooked on. He was having dinner recently with the designer Marc Jacobs, who offered an interesting answer to the question, “What qualifies as new?” “What is new,” Jacobs said, “is simply what is now.”

Tonchi went on to write that entire generations look at fashion, art, and music with a complete ignorance of what came before. This lack of memory, which is sometimes unfortunate, can have an upside: It also allows for the kind of freshness to which Jacobs referred. He mused that the current fashion story making news was the return of Tom Ford. The clothes themselves weren’t so new, but the fresh context was.

This revelation is pertinent to the Oldways world–and the food industry as a whole. Like fashion, the food world is fickle. Consumers jump from one new silver bullet for losing weight to another, or tout the latest isolated source of health (“Eat more carrots!”) instead of focusing on the importance of total diet.

The reality is that good health boils down to a few very simple concepts–the same concepts around health and nutrition, culture, tradition, and sustainability that our founder Dun Gifford wished to celebrate when he started Oldways back in the early 1990s. And, he would say that our senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing) bind them all together. Today at Oldways we continue to focus on changing the way people eat through practical and positive programs grounded in science, tradition, and delicious food and drink.

Still, it is our challenge to provide fresh programs and tools that educate the educators and help consumers turn their plans to eat better into reality. Here is a small taste of how we plan to do this in the coming year:

  • 2011: The Year of the Mediterranean Diet.  Throughout the year we plan to help consumers unlock the mysteries of the elusive vegetable. We will also highlight the latest research on this gold standard for eating. And, at our next Mediterranean Diet Conference, in the fall, we will provide practical ways to increase consumer acceptance of this traditional diet.
  • Whole Grains Are the New Norm. What started seven years ago as a small group of 6 companies banding together with Oldways as The Whole Grains Council has grown to more than 250 allied companies around the globe. Together, we have accomplished something none of us could have done alone: we have helped make whole grains the new norm. But more work needs to be done. Join us at the end of January for our “Whole Grains: The New Norm” conference in Portland, Oregon. We are also working with the Chinese Government to highlight whole grains at the Third Annual Nutrition and Health Industry Expo in Beijing in April.
  • Supermarket Dietitian Leadership Symposium. Nutrition education in grocery stores, especially at the point of purchase, is an extremely important means of improving public health. At the end of March, Oldways will bring together supermarket registered dietitian leaders with industry representatives at a symposium, where they will sit together and share ideas on how best to reach consumers with important nutritional information.
  • The Healthy Pasta Meal. Recently, Oldways brought together an international committee of scientists and food authorities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to review updated research regarding the role of healthy carbohydrates in a balanced diet. These experts, representing 13 countries, issued a joint Scientific Consensus Statement on the Healthy Pasta Meal. At key events in Rome and Madrid as well as in the United States, we will share the information gathered by this group, along with practical ways to include pasta in a healthy diet.
  • Oldways Culinaria. There is no better way to explore traditional, healthy lifestyles and the divine pleasures of the table than by participating in one of Oldways’s culinary journeys–we call them “Culinaria.” This March, we invite you to come along on a memorable trip to Turkey with chef Ana Sortun. And, stay tuned for news of our Culinaria in Morocco at the end of the year.

As you see, there are plenty of exciting programs to keep things fresh and new for you as we all continue striving for better health in the New Year. We hope you will join us on our journey.

Finally, as we close out 2010 and look toward 2011, we want to thank you all for your support through a difficult year. We miss Dun more than words can say. But, thanks to his creativity and vision, and the strong foundation that we have continued to build on since 1990, all of us at Oldways are more committed than ever to changing the way people eat, this coming year and far beyond.

–Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways

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