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DYC Dietetics Professor & Students Participate in Indigenous Cooking Challenge

Buffalo, New York – April 19, 2014 – Dr. Edward H. Weiss, professor of dietetics and the developer of the D’Youville’s dietetics program, was one of four judges in the 2014 Indigenous Cooking Challenge (ICC) that was held April 15 at the Cattaraugus Wellness Center in Irving N.Y.

The Challenge, sponsored by the Food Is Our Medicine project, is supported by the Seneca Diabetes Foundation and the Seneca Nation with the goal of re-introducing healthy indigenous foods back into daily life.

Eight teams of two people competed in the challenge to take a mystery basket of three to five ingredients and turn them into a healthy dish. The creations were judged on creativity, presentation, taste, how healthy and nutritious it was and the use of the items in the basket.

All ingredients had to be used and the teams had access to a ‘community pantry’ stocked with a variety of other ingredients. Teams had to cook their dishes and assemble two plates for the judges to share.

Two D’Youville fourth-year dietetics students, Sandy Chen and Eric Cross, served as ‘kitchen monitors’ during the competition.

“The cooking challenge is one of many activities sponsored by Food Is Our Medicine. The goal is to help members of the Seneca Nation return to a more traditional diet. The purpose of the ICC is to challenge the contestants to develop entrees made from healthy traditional foods,” Dr. Weiss said.

The annual event also promotes the Seneca culture, according to Ken Parker, project manager in the Seneca Nation Planning and Development Office. “We are using plants and food indigenous to our area and our Nation and it’s nice to see people learning from our efforts.”

“It was a great experience and I learned about unique ingredients and how they were used in preparing special dishes,” said Cross. “We also learned more about the Seneca culture and I became immersed into their community and did not feel like an outsider.”

Sandy Chen, a California native attending D’Youville, also learned more about the culture and was amazed at how the ingredients turned out in the cooking. “I would love to do it again.” The Seneca Diabetes Foundation has become an integral component in addressing the issue of diabetes within the Seneca Nation. “Food Is Our Medicine – Healthy First Nations” is designed to educate individuals in the Nation on how to prevent the disease.

A Farmer’s Market at the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory has been set up to create a venue where the Seneca people can access local, healthy food options including organic produce and grass-fed animal products.

‘Food Is Our Medicine’ is not just about food, it is about leading a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, Parker said.

The Nation’s annual Fall Festival will be held again this fall and features myriad activities for the entire family.


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