Marta works as a media specialist maintaining libraries and researching various subjects. She also runs a part-time nutrition consultation practice. In addition, she facilitates edible gardens in schools. Students are given the opportunity to learn about nutrition and simple cooking with hands on experiences making positive changes for themselves and their families.

What are some country health issues impacted by nutrition?

Top nutrition-related health issues in Italy include obesity, cardiovascular disease, celiac disease and thyroid disease. Lifestyle is becoming more sedentary, ordering take-out more frequently (average  once per week), grocery shopping online, and choosing more energy-dense foods high in calories and saturated fats. While childhood obesity has stabilized at 5% the percentage of overweigh youth has climbed to 45%. Adult obesity has climbed and currently sits around 10% while 40% of the adult population is overweight. Thyroid disease is on the rise especially among females and in the past was linked with distance from the sea for lack of iodine in the diet.

What nutrition trends have you seen in Italy?

Nutrition trends include gluten-free, yeast-free and Paleo diets. Rather than following “fad diets”, most look for nutrition advice from experts. For weight loss and nutrient density, people also like to begin their day with a juicer, decrease their intake in carbs, and eat fresh. There is a demand for local, sustainable foods, particularly region-specific. Each of the 20 regions in Italy has a specific cuisine. Coldiretti and Campagna Amica (promoted by Coldiretti) support Italian farmers and vendors many of whom come together for farmers markets. They are in every large and medium Italian city and are open mornings 6 days a week. Many Italians still love to eat fresh foods and given a chance they will shop at the farmers market. An NGO called Slow Foods International, which has also made its way into the United States, is a global, grassroots, organization founded in Italy in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions. Slow Food promotes and protects micro-farming from mass produced foods. It supports native crops and livestock in response to mass produced foods and meats which, in comparison, have higher yields but a greater impact on the environment and livelihood of local farming.

What are Moldovan foods, seasonings, rituals and recipes that are special to you?

Marta has been working on the “sacred aspect of food” honoring the oneness of the cycle of life and death which is a continuum in nature and in humans. Food gets picked and killed to become alive again in every cell and fiber of our bodies. One of her favorite recipes is a simple tomato sauce with olive oil, finely chopped onion, crushed tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and a handful of freshly chopped basil leaves. She also loves scrambled eggs with steamed artichoke hearts, olive oil, a pinch of salt and some parsley.

What inspired you to become involved with IAAND?

Marta has been a member of IAAND since 2003, formerly the American Overseas Dietetic Association. She joined when she moved to the US because she wanted to keep abreast of the profession, and enjoyed helping with the annual conference. Currently, she is working on a university task force that is a collaboration between the Academy and IAAND to create opportunities for RD’s and interns to work in Italy.