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Aloha from Hawaii During National Nutrition Month

rachel apple picking

Rachel Dlugash, Guest Blogger and Senior Research Data Manager at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Aloha!  I just returned from a trip to Hawaii where I attended a college friend’s wedding. Since March is National Nutrition Month, it seemed fitting to write a blog post about Hawaii because I associate it with nutrition.  This may not be an inherently obvious association, but hopefully if you keep reading it will make much more sense.

Several years ago I found myself deliberating whether to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at Johns Hopkins or at the University of Hawaii. Half of my friends and family were telling me “of course you should choose Hopkins, it is the top school for studying medicine,” and they were challenged by others who said, “of course you should choose the University of Hawaii, you would be in Hawaii!” These were both compelling arguments to me.  In the end Hopkins was the right choice, but nonetheless my mind sometimes wonders (especially during the bitter East Coast winter we’ve been having) what if I had chosen Hawaii?  I thought of that again on this visit surrounded by the beauty and the contagious happy attitude that all the people exude.Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 10.51.06 AM

Hawaii is a special place to study nutrition because of the abundance of native fruits and vegetables.  Also, I learned from a tour guide that Hawaiian food is actually pretty healthy because their traditional method of cooking is steaming.  He told us their food is also delicious, but you may have trouble finding traditional Hawaiian food in Oahu because they cater towards the taste of tourists.

The theme of National Nutrition Month 2014 is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”, because “taste tops Screen shot 2014-03-17 at 10.43.14 AMnutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another”.   With coconuts, pineapples, and macadamia nuts galore, Hawaii is an easy place to enjoy eating right, but it’s not the only place to make that happen.  We need to ensure that everyone can enjoy the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables and this is something that has been dedicated to since its inception.  I had to check, and I was surprised to learn that there were 5 food pantries registered on within a 5 mile radius of where I was in Hawaii. The taste of the fresh pineapple and coconuts still lingers in my mouth, and it’s good to know that is there, making sure nature’s candy is not being wasted.

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