My early life was spent in Minnesota in the midwest of the US, where food and agriculture are major parts of life and culture. Minnesota is a large agricultural state and also home to many food companies, including Pillsbury and Cargill.
Based on my early life experiences and my education in biology and nutrition, my real interest in public health nutrition began when I travelled abroad and saw the vast discrepancies between income and health in low-income countries. Realising that food availability and the ability to be healthy or not was so intimately connected to one’s social standing and income prompted me to view nutrition as more than a scientific pursuit, but also as a social pursuit.
My first experience with public health nutrition was as a graduate student studying metabolic risk factors for obesity in stunted children from the favelas of São Paulo.
Nutrition is not simply a scientific discipline, it is a reflection of how society views its members. Thus, understanding and promoting a humane access to healthy foods is a core aspect of public health nutrition. Without this emphasis, seeing food as a simple commodity that has no place in the continuum of human health and human rights, means that the marginalised and poorest members of the world community are likely to fail to achieve their social and biological potential. Furthermore, public health nutrition is much more than a discourse, it involves meaningful research, education, and outreach to all members of society.