Ramona Nez is quick to promote her “slow food” approach to nutrition and diabetes prevention. As program coordinator of the Diabetes Prevention Education Program and Healing Gardens in NAU’s health professions department, Nez educates the Navajo and Hopi nations about native food systems and slow, community dinners.

“We teach others how to plant native and medicinal plants,” Nez said. “The idea behind the slow food movement is to know where your food is coming from, that it is locally grown. We enjoy the meal as we’re eating it.” Conscious eating and the nutritional aspects of native food help prevent obesity and diabetes, she added.

At harvest celebrations, the native food is brought out course by course, and individuals are encouraged to eat slowly, visit with their family and friends, and discuss current issues of the community.

“We continue to strengthen our cultural values as we become aware of our relationship with our food,” Nez said.

Nez will be presenting on her slow food approach at the Arizona Conference to Prevent Obesity April 13 at NAU’s du Bois Center. The conference is designed for both health professionals and members of the community. The $50 registration fee includes lunch. To register online click here.

For information on the Diabetes Prevention Education Program, call (928) 523-0601 or write P.O. Box 5600, Flagstaff, AZ 86011.