TEDxManhattan Heroes: Stefanie Sacks

Photograph by Geir Magnusson

Leading up to TEDxManhattan 2015, we've asked this year's speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Stefanie Sacks is a culinary nutritionist, author, host of the Stirring the Pot radio show, educator, speaker and consultant. Last year, she released her book What The Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate, a practical guide to cleansing your diet of offensive ingredients.

What’s the topic you’ll be speaking about?

The title of my TEDx Manhattan talk is What The Fork Are You Eating? Small Changes in Food Choice Make Big Everyday Differences. My goal is to help the audience understand that change in food choice is 100 percent possible. As food and nutrition confusion abounds, many are paralyzed not knowing who to trust or what to do. With a little inspiration and practical education, shifting is possible.

Why is this important?

Working with people one on one and in groups from all walks of life to shift eating habits for almost two decades, the common denominator is that everyone wants to do better but they just don’t know how. It is time to stop focusing on the problems (and what people can’t do) and rather spend more time in the solutions, giving people very practical tools to change their relationship with food (what people can do). Meeting people where they are at is critical for change to happen; and everyone has a different starting point which is OK. This food movement has become way too elite for way too many and must be dialed down for real change to happen.

What are 5 things an average person can do to eat healthier?

  1. Eat more whole, real food.
  2. On packaged food, understand that the ingredients tell the story of your food, not the Nutrition Facts or health claims. So read your ingredients lists with a scrutinizing eye. Eliminate foods with artificial ingredients, from food dye to flavors as well as sweeteners, avoid GMO’s at all cost looking for the Non-GMO Project seal of approval.
  3. Understand that sugar has over 50 different names and can be listed on your ingredients lists multiple times so don’t think that dextrose or maltodextrin are anything but sugar!
  4. Don’t believe all of the labels on your animal foods like “cage-free”, “antibiotic-free” and “hormone-free”. While these terms are defined by the government, they are not regulated. So always aim to by animal edibles with third party verification like Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, USDA Organic or Certified Naturally Grown
  5. Navigate organics with the Dirty Dozen by the Environmental Working Group (also available as a smartphone app) to limit pesticide exposure from produce while also being kind to your wallet.

Are there other projects you’re also passionate about right now – either yours or someone else’s?

I am passionate about the work that I do with my clients in my private practice; also the incredible culinary centric workshops that I have the opportunity to teach. That is the foundation of everything Stefanie Sacks Culinary Nutritionist and What The Fork.

Meeting people where they are at is critical for change to happen; and everyone has a different starting point which is OK. This food movement has become way too elite for way too many and must be dialed down for real change to happen.

If you could do one thing to change the food system, what would it be?

I would change consumers' perception of what is truly healthy. Shifting choice is central to changing the food system but not enough authentic education exists in this area.

Which other 2015 TEDxManhattan speakers are you excited about hearing? Which past speakers did you find particularly inspiring?

While I am looking forward to hearing everyone speak as I am honored to be among a remarkable panel of change agents, I am particularly looking forward to Dr. Robert Graham’s presentation. His work educating residents about the role of food in healing as admirable and life altering not only for the health professionals but also the army of patients that they treat. This work is critical to shifting consumer choice. Some of my favorites from past TEDx Manhattan were Anna Lappé, Karen Washington, Michel Nischan, Andrew Gunther, Lance Price, Saru Jayaraman and Tom Colicchio.

Where can more information about your project be found?

You can learn more about me and my work at stefaniesacks.com.

TEDxManhattan, "Changing the Way We Eat," will take place March 7, 2015, at the TimesCenter in New York City. Interested in joining the day? You can apply to attend, or host or attend a viewing party.

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