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Healthy Sustainable Diets: Where Do Packaged Foods Fit?

Given our climate crisis and food and nutrition insecurity, there is a need to adopt healthy, sustainable diets. While the foundation of these diets is whole foods, packaged foods can fit.

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This webinar was presented live on September 15, 2022.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis and widespread food and nutrition insecurity, there is a need to drive adoption of healthy, sustainable diets. While defining these diets has been the focus of much global attention, there have been challenges aligning to a diet that considers affordability and accessibility, and little progress in achieving recommendations at scale. Existing sustainable nutrition guidance focuses almost exclusively on whole foods. If packaged foods are discussed, they are often discouraged as “ultra-processed,” putting these diets even farther out of reach.

While the foundation of a healthy, sustainable diet is whole foods, packaged foods can fit. In fact, they can play a critical role in driving adoption of these diets and supporting nutrition security. Join sustainability and nutrition experts Mike Hamm, PhD and Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN to dive deeper into the state of healthy and sustainable eating, including current dietary guidance, consumption habits, and recommendations for your clients. They will review the existing tools and frameworks for evaluating food choices and explore how potential new definitions and practical solutions can help make healthy, sustainable eating accessible to all.

CPEU: 1.0
CPE Level: 2
Performance Indicators: 9.3.0, 8.5.4, 12.4.3

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the role of packaged foods in healthy, sustainable eating patterns
  2. Articulate evaluation criteria for food choices that consider nutrition, environment, and equity concerns
  3. Develop “small shifts” recommendations to help people consume a healthier, more sustainable diet


Michael W. Hamm, PhD
Faculty Emeritus - Michigan State University 
Principal, Flying Goat Associates, LLC

Mike’s work is focused on sustainable and regionalized food systems. He is the C. S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture Emeritus at Michigan State University. In his faculty role he was appointed in the Departments of Community Sustainability; Food Science and Human Nutrition; and Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences. He has a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. Prior to his 2003 move to MSU he spent nineteen years on the Rutgers University faculty in Nutritional Sciences – serving as department chair for six years. While there he co-founded the New Jersey Urban Ecology Program and the Rutgers Student Organic Farm. At MSU he was founding Director of the Center for Regional Food Systems. In his nineteen years at MSU Mike published on a range of topics regarding health, sustainable food systems, urban agriculture, and regional/local food systems. He was the lead author on the health chapter for the TEEBAgriFood report TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic Foundations and more recently was lead author for a report to WWF-Germany on the utility of True Cost Accounting for creating food system policy with health and sustainability at the forefront. He was a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Food Policy Council. Mike was a consultant on sustainability for the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. He was also an Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow at Oxford University in 2019. He is currently principal of Flying Goat Associates, LLC – a sole member consulting business to advise on issues related to food and sustainability.

Leslie J. Bonci, MPH,RD,CSSD, LDN, FAND

Leslie is a registered dietitian, board certified specialist in sports dietetics and is the owner of Active Eating Advice- be fit, fed, fearless- a nutrition consulting company and co-founder of Performance365- a sports nutrition consulting company. She is currently the sports nutrition consultant for the 2020 Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

She has authored/co-authored several books and chapters on the topic of sports nutrition. Leslie is also a blogger for US News and World Report and participates in many podcasts as well as providing nutrition expertise for television, radio and print interviews.

Leslie has worked with industry as a spokesperson and also in an advisory capacity, positioning the importance of nutrition and role of the registered dietitian. Creating and cultivating partnerships takes time, patience, perseverance and persistence. Cooperation and collaboration are essential for communication She is passionate about presenting information that reaches across the aisles, resonates with relevance and strategies that are attainable, maintainable and sustainable. Registered dietitians must be stakeholders and part of the solution in identifying, addressing and helping to solve food and nutrition security concerns through actions, policy and in the way we communicate on our social platforms.

Communication is such a critical component of the field of nutrition and dietetics. In creating recommendations for patients, are we respectful of cultural background, economic status, food accessibility and affordability when we craft content? In interviews or on social media platforms we should strive to be ethical, fair, far reaching, inclusive, and evidence based. Effectiveness and competence in our communication strategies is key.

Leslie is a nationally and internationally recognized speaker. She was honored with the SCAN Achievement Award in 2015 and was a 2021 recipient of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Medallion Award. Leslie was chair of SHPN (formerly SCAN) and is chair-elect for Nutrition Education for the Public.

Release Date: September 15, 2022


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