A Letter from Melinda Hemmelgarn

Like many of us whose lives take circuitous paths, I didn’t set out to be a registered dietitian. With barely a smidgen of talent, but an eye for the beautiful, I intended to be an art major in college. I studied archeology outside Florence, Italy, photographed Michelangelo’s “David” from every angle, and debated color, shape and form. Then, thanks to a fortuitous scheduling “mistake,” I stumbled into a nutrition class. There, I fell in love with the relationship between food and health, and I’ve never looked back.

Through careful observation and in-depth investigation, I've learned that food uniquely defines our home, describes our heritage and predicts our future. I've discovered that the most healthful, heart-and-soul-satisfying meals are prepared by caring hands with local, organic, sustainable ingredients, and savored in the company of those we love. We are smart to grow some of our food, cook most of it, and know all of it.

Today, my organic kitchen garden, wildflower patch, and dinner plates serve as palettes for artistic expression. My now-grown children (shown here with artistically sculpted hairstyles), friends and faithful readers continue to fuel my passion to inform, educate and empower those who eat, and thereby influence our shared and future landscape.

I welcome you to dive into each "Beyond the Plate" column with gusto, curiosity, and a hearty appetite for nutrition news you can use to benefit yourself and loved ones. By the time you reach the last line, I hope you'll feel even more confident about the food choices you make for your family.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D.

Beyond the Plate: Straight Talk on Food & Family

"Food Sleuth" Melinda Hemmelgarn is an avid supporter of organic, sustainable diets. She's a registered dietitian and "investigative nutritionist" who leaves no stone unturned when connecting the dots between food, agriculture and health. With humor, kindness and enthusiasm, Melinda helps readers "think beyond their plates" to understand how our daily food choices affect personal health and the planet our children will inherit. In "Beyond the Plate," Melinda provides news you can use to feel even more confident about the food choices you make for your family. Bon appétit!

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About Melinda

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian, national award-winning “Food Sleuth” columnist, and 2004-2006 Food and Society Policy Fellow. With over 25 years’ experience in clinical, academic and public health nutrition, she’s uniquely suited to connect the dots between food, agriculture, health and the environment.

Melinda founded and formerly directed the Nutrition Communications Center at the University of Missouri, and blazed the trail for blending nutrition education with media literacy. Her provocative yet practical columns and national conference presentations cover cutting edge nutrition and food safety issues, and help eaters “think beyond their plates.” She is a member of the Society for Nutrition Education, Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Alliance for a Media Literate America. 

Melinda Melinda serves as spokesperson for the Missouri Organic Association, and co-authored a children’s book, “Treasure Hunt with the Munch Crunch Bunch: A Healthy Fun Food Adventure!” In 2007, she received an American Dietetic Association Award for Excellence in Hunger & Environmental Nutrition.

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