The good news
Harriet Kuhnlein writes: ' People who, as we would say "live close to nature", do not make the distinctions most "civilised" people make, between the living and the dead, between humans and other living things, or between the living and natural environment. They see food differently from most of us with formal training in biology. For them, their food systems and diets are part of their ways of life, and have profound philosophical, cultural and social significance.
'Foreign "experts" may do great damage, by telling them to conform to modern dietary and medical guidelines. If they accept such advice they may be less likely to suffer some nutrient deficiencies, but they are also likely to lose the sense of meaning and harmony of their lives in the cultural ecosystems within their communities, which is, I believe, more serious'. This is from her 'special commentary' published in the second issue of World Nutrition in June 2010, which we celebrate again this month.
Retiring Councillors are Agneta Yngve, Harriet Kuhnlein, Mark Lawrence, Nahla Hwalla, Roger Shrimpton, Urban Jonnson. So many thanks to them
Six distinguished public health nutritionists have now retired from the Association's Council. From the left above these are Agneta Yngve, editor of Public Health Nutrition for the past six years; Harriet Kuhnlein, co-chair of the programme committee for Rio2012; Mark Lawrence, a previous Association general secretary; Nahla Hwalla, who represents the Eastern Meditarranean region on the WHO NUGAG food and nutrition policy committee; Roger Shrimpton, a former general secretary of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition; and Urban Jonsson, former UNICEF chief of nutrition.
They are we trust not lost to the Association. As a sign of this, Harriet is as said above, author of this month's 'special commentary', on the work of CINE, the Center for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, one of the world's proudest achievements in our field.
The astounding and indefatigable Claudio Schuftan writes what we believe is his 28th monthly column for us this month. Occasionally he chooses a 'hero of the month', so far from his and our field of food and nutrition policy and practice. This month he ranges far wider and chooses three great imaginative writers who inspire him. His explanation follows:
'A philosophical journey does help us to explain why we are in public health nutrition, and also why, in our profession, we become attached to specific beliefs traceable to where we have come from. As a physician and a practitioner in the field, I am well aware that our work has a technical basis. But the practice of architecture is more than the study of the mechanics of steel and concrete. True professionals think about the meaning of what they do. So should we.
'To start with, who are we? I illustrate this thought by taking my own case. I do this here, through the eyes and the writing of three of the authors who are my heroes this month. As you see above, they are looking you in the eye although, in reality, they were looking at the lens of a machine. But then again... They are all novelists who have had plenty to write about – in ways that should affect us. So I think. You be the judge. From left to right, above, they are Peter Høeg (1957- ) from Denmark, who is or has been also a sailor, a ballet dancer, and a fencer. Also, Nadine Gordimer (1922 - ) the Nobel Literature laureate from South Africa, and Isabel Allende (1942 - ), originally from Chile where I also come from, who have been deeply engaged in the politics of their countries.
The three passages below are my own extraction and paraphrasing as I was inspired by passages of their writing. As I write this, I realise that they, among other people plus other influences, have shaped who I am. In this sense they are some of the 'causes of me' as I am. As I embrace them, I am being shaped by them.
'I invite you to undertake the same exercise. Choose three of the writers who mean most to you, and by study of them, see how much what you believe now comes from them. Write about this, perhaps in the way that I do here, and I will see to it that what you write is published, either within this column, or elsewhere on our website.
'Words no longer make much of an impression on many of us. You can take what follows any way you please: as a cri du coeur, as a lament, or as an ode to hope. I look at it as a type of guide that we can all use to come closer to the truth about who we are and what we do.
'I admit to a faint feeling of anger. Something is telling me that we need to get to the bottom of all this, to the most intimate hopes and fears of what we do in our vocation and also for a living. In what I read in our discipline there are so many numbers and so few values. Thoughts like those expressed here occasionally keep me from sleeping. But they make my insomnia meaningful'.
Finally this month do please enjoy our new member's profiles, organised by our assistant editor Isabela Sattamini, whose 'I get around' is on our home page. Ariyo Oluwaseun writes: 'I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. My interest in nutrition started when my cousin was placed on special diets as part of treatment for tuberculosis. I saw several cases of malnutrition whenever I accompanied him to the clinic and based on that experience I was able to recognise obvious cases of malnutrition in several poor urban slums I visited. A nursing sister later encouraged me to study nutrition after a failed bid to enrol for medicine and surgery. My interest was strengthened when I learned about the importance of nutrition in child development and productivity, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Ever since, it has been a journey of pleasure, helping people and putting smiles on faces of the impoverished by preventing malnutrition and other health problems through advocacy, nutrition education among other interventions.'
Until next month!