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Healthy eating on the road

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Barb Armstrong and Albert Bernhardt were travelling this week to spread the word about healthy eating and incorporating country foods into your everyday diet.

Armstrong works with the Northern Contaminants Program of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

NNSL photo

Barb Armstrong and Albert Bernhardt are touring communities, demonstrating healthy eating strategies in a cooking show format. They were in Aklavik and Paulatuk this week. - Dez Loreen/NNSL photo

A study by the program released in March found lower levels of lead, mercury and PCBs in hair and blood samples of pregnant women at Inuvik Regional Hospital than had been found in a previous study in 2000.

Following the release of the study results, Armstrong and Bernhardt began educating the public that country foods were safe to eat.

They compiled information about country foods and healthy diets into a format that resembles a cooking show, and made presentations in Inuvik and Tuk earlier this year.

"We're taking our cooking show to Aklavik and Paulatuk now," said Armstrong earlier this week.

The two were scheduled to be in Aklavik on Tuesday and Paulatuk on Wednesday.

"We're planning a big feast in Paulatuk with their annual jamboree," said Armstrong.

The results of the study also led to an easy-to-read cookbook, put together with help from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the nutritionists at the hospital. It gives tips on healthy living and nutrient-rich foods.

Armstrong said that since the first booklet came out, another has been made.

She said using a cookbook makes their findings useful at the community level.

During their show, Bernhardt cooks the foods, while nutritionists explain some facts about food.

"For instance, they will talk to the audience about why brown rice is better for you than the empty white rice we eat," said Armstrong.

"We have rice cooker giveaways and also offer recipes to spice up their rice."

Combining country foods with store-bought foods is another element to the cookbook. Armstrong said that it is important to use both ends of the spectrum.

"We have store- bought foods in our everyday lives, but it's also important to include traditional foods," said Armstrong.

"You can help supplement cultural foods with foods bought in the store."

Armstrong added that balancing the two types of food makes your supply last longer.

"If you get some fish, you could eat it all until it's gone, but by using other food with it, it all lasts longer," she said.