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Changing How a Whole State Eats

There’s no mystery to the connection between diet and health. Nearly 200 years ago, French scientist Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es."  Which means, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” 

What’s harder to do is to determine how best to move West Virginians from a diet heavy in sugar and calories to one that’s full of the healthy foods we already know we should be eating. It’s hard enough to change one person’s habits. I know this from personal experience. But how do you change a whole family, a community, even a state with 1.8 million people?

There’s no French guidebook for that. We have to figure it out for ourselves.

Luckily, this is a challenge West Virginians are stepping up to answer. Listen to Sally Hurst, a participant at this year’s Try This conference, about the changes she’s seeing in the Greenbrier Valley:


At the Try This conference, people from all over the state shared ideas on how to change the eating habits of entire communities. They’re getting ideas from churches – changing the menus at church picnics and suppers, for starters. Health promoters are teaming up with farmers and farmers’ markets. Schools all across the state are getting on board so that children start healthy habits early.

But the real change will come in families. And that’s where WVU Extension’s Belinda Nicholas is making a difference. If you live near Morgantown, you may have seen her in the aisles of your local grocery or convenience store with a family that’s eager to do better at the table:


People like Sally and Belinda are making a difference in West Virginia. And they’re not alone.

I look forward to sharing a healthy meal with you soon.