Celebrating Canada’s Agriculture Day by Recognizing the Faces behind Food: Patricia Chuey, Registered Dietitian
“My Mom, whom I affectionately call the ‘Martha Stewart of the Prairies’ always made food special in our lives, whether it be with the large backyard garden, Easter, Christmas – or other food celebrations throughout the year. She let us cook, make a mess, and be creative in the kitchen. When I was around 7 years old, I loved taking carrots from the garden, cutting them into coins, and mashing freshly picked raspberries to go on top to serve friends in the backyard playhouse.”
Patricia Chuey is a registered dietitian as well as a food and nutrition communications expert. Having grown up in a household that emphasized knowledge and healthy eating habits, it seemed natural for Patricia to become a registered dietitian. When it came time to choose a career, a registered dietitian combined both a love of good food and a will to teach and educate others.
“No two people are alike and there is no one-size-fits-all eating style. Working with consumers to find an approach that fits for them and helps them achieve optimal health has been very rewarding work,” says Patricia.
Patricia’s career has spanned over 30 years. Her resume includes titles like: author, keynote speaker, nutrition affairs manager for a major supermarket chain.and even team dietitian for the Vancouver Grizzlies. She’s taught nutrition to many top Canadian coaches at the National Coaching Association, counseled hundreds of individuals and athletes from kids to seniors, developed recipes for food industry clients, and more.
From farmers to nutritionists, the culinary landscape of Canada is vast. Though each career is an integral and important part to our industry. Each path is vital to educate consumers and operators alike. As we come upon Canada’s Agriculture Day, we got to know Patricia a little better with a few questions about her job and industry.
What are the challenges of your job/industry?
The biggest is consumer confusion at times in not knowing who or what to believe. This is particularly challenging given everyone on social media being a broadcaster – whether accurate or not. I encourage consumers to find an approach that works well for them in which they make meaningful and lasting progress towards their health goals. I am a fan of science and fact-based information. I encourage consumers to evaluate the information they receive on food matters before just taking it as the truth.
In the past few years I have also seen an increasing amount of confusion among consumers regarding agriculture and food production. Generally, the harshest critics of agriculture that I’ve come across are the furthest from the farm. Connecting with farmers is an important step consumers can take if they have concerns about the quality of the food supply in Canada. We have a world class food system, envied by other countries around the world. We need to protect, support and celebrate it.
What can the foodservice industry, or consumers do to help support you and your business?
The foodservice industry can continue to help promote healthy living by supporting locally-sourced food, manufacturing and serving food that is delicious without being overly high in salt, sugar, trans fat or artificial ingredients. If they need context or recipe ideas, give me a shout! Consumers can research topics thoroughly to ensure any information they are broadcasting is accurate. .
Why is it important to celebrate Canadian ingredients/local produce and food?
If we don’t support our local food growers and producers, they can’t stay in business. Let’s keep our food dollars in Canada where our vast country and range of geography and seasons allows for an incredible and diverse variety of healthy, delicious food choices.
What does Canada’s Agriculture Day mean to you? Why should consumers and industry alike participate in Canada’s Agriculture Day?
Celebrating Canada’s Agriculture Day emphasizes the significance of agriculture to the Canadian economy. With less than four per cent of Canadians employed in farming, there is a significant disconnect between farm and plate.
It is also valuable to learn that careers in agriculture don’t only include planting crops and milking cows. There is a diverse range of employment opportunities in agriculture that use science, math, communications, problem-solving, creativity and much more. As long as we eat, we need ag and we need people to work within the industry. Support the work being done by groups like Farm & Food Care Ontario. It has never been more important!
What would surprise someone to learn about your job/industry? Are there any misconceptions?
I am not and have never been the food police! I encourage my clients to take pleasure if what they eat. I am NOT a fan of doing any “diet math” or mathematical calculations to weigh, measure or track the food you eat. I have always been about whole food and home cooking. I think the single most important measure Canadians can take to eat healthy is to cook more meals at home – and focus on homegrown ingredients.
I have always believed that optimal health comes from achieving a balance with MANY factors including for example healthy eating, exercise, sleep, stress management, happiness and much more. Only focusing on eating as the “answer” is not a well-rounded enough approach to achieve meaningful and permanent positive, health-enhancing results. I also discourage wearing one’s food choices as a badge and imposing what works for you on to other people. Food choices are personal and result from many factors ranging from taste and availability to tradition, food skills, economics, likes, dislikes and more.
You can find out more about Patricia and her work by visiting her website or following her on Instagram: @PatriciaChuey. Be sure to check out her Instagram project @HockeyYeti – a page highlighting the food hockey players need for optimal performance.
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