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According to a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal, the difference between healthy versus unhealthy eating is about $1.50/day. Compared to the productivity lost and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on treating heart disease or diabetes each year, this difference is trivial from a policy perspective. Educational campaigns nationwide could help inform American citizens of the most cost-effective ways to shop for healthy foods, allowing more families to reap the health benefits of healthy eating.
To read NPR's full article, click here.
The ethnobotanical study “A comparison of traditional food and health strategies among Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia, USA” conducted by Emory undergraduate Sandy Jiang and her mentor Dr. Cassandra Quave of the Center for the Study of Human Health was recently published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.
Immigrant health and traditional medicinal knowledge is of great importance to public and global health. Every individual comes with his or her own different cultural background, especially in medicinal system beliefs such as Chinese immigrants, who use traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is governed on the basis of homeostasis achieved through the balance of yin and yang energy. In this study, Jiang and Quave analyzed medicinal food usage and health preferences among Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in the Atlanta community. They found significant differences in preference for Western and Eastern medicine, beliefs in the yin and yang system, usage of medicinal foods, and gardening for medicinal plants. This research highlights the importance of cultural competency training for allopathic medical practitioners who provide care to immigrant populations.
Students visit Dr. Quave in Basilicata province, Italy to learn about traditional medicine practices
This week Dr. Cassandra Quave and students from Emory University's study abroad program in Italy were highlighted by eScience Commons. The students recently visited Dr. Quave at her field site in the Vulture-Alto Brandano region of Basilicata province to learn more about the traditional medical practices of the Arbereshe ethnic minority in Italy who came to the region five centuries ago from Albania during the Ottoman invasion of their homeland.
Read more about their trip and Dr. Quave's work with the Arbereshe on the eScience Commons blog. To see photo's of the visit, please visit this Flickr page.
The Emory University Italian Studies Program, in collaboration with the Emory School of Medicine, Emory Center for Ethics, and Emory Center for the Study of Human Health offered an interdisciplinary course in Italian and Medical Humanities this summer. On June 15th, 2013, Dr. Cassandra Quave of Emory CSHH hosted the course participants and guests for a day of immersion in the traditional life-ways of the village of Ginestra, located in the Basilicata province in southern Italy. The group began the morning with a guided plant walk in the countryside surrounding the village, where they learned about the ethnobotanical importance of local plants. Next, they visited a local vineyard, where they learned about cultivated food plants and ate fresh mulberries off of the tree. In the shade of a grove of walnut trees, they were treated to a rare demonstration of how locals use dogs to hunt wild truffles.
Upon return the village, they enjoyed additional demonstrations in traditional ricotta cheese making and basket weaving. They visited the church of San Nicola, where they learned about the Albanian heritage of this small village and heard about the daily agro-pastoralist life from a 4th generation shepherd. The group then enjoyed a buffet of traditional local foods, including handmade pasta, bean soup, fried peppers, cured sausages, olives, local breads, local wines (including the Aglianico wine typical to this region of Italy), and a variety of local desserts. Lastly, the group visited the Borgo dei Sapori in Ginestra, which is a museum that documents the traditional means of wine making, oil pressing, medicinal plant processing, and wheat harvesting used historically in this territory.
We extend our deep thanks to the local government administration, linguistic institute, and cultural organization for organizing the luncheon and demonstrations of traditional life-ways for the students. We also thank the community of Ginestra as a whole for their hospitality and for sharing their cultural heritage with us.
Visit this website to view more photos of the day.
On June 15, 2013, Emory students enrolled in the interdisciplinary program in Italian and Medical Humanities will visit the village of Ginestra to learn about Arbëreshë history and medical traditions of the region. Ginestra is an Arbëreshë community founded in the second half of the fifteenth century. Located in the northern area of Basilicata in the Vulture area, it is home to about 750 inhabitants in the municipality.
The visiting students and professors will be guests of Dr. Cassandra Quave of the Emory Center for the Study of Human Health, the local administration of the municipality of Ginestra, the local language institute and cultural organization. Students will begin their day with a visit to a local vineyard and the Ethnobotanical Garden of Ginestra, where they will learn about local wild food and medicinal plants. After the lesson on local plants, students will be treated to a presentation on Arbëreshë history and experience a tasting of traditional foods. For the full announcement on this event, please visit the following news link (in Italian).
Dr. Cassandra Quave, CSHH Visiting Assistant Professor, is staying busy this summer on a medicinal plant collecting expedition in Italy. Quave’s field research site is located in southern Italy in the Vulture-Alto Bradano region of the Basilicata province. The local landscape is dominated by the dormant volcano Monte Vulture. The rolling hillsides below are covered with fields of wheat, olive groves and vineyards. She will be there in June and July to collect specimens of medicinal plants under study in the Human Health laboratory. When the plants arrive at the lab, members of Quave’s team will use the raw materials to create a series of plant extracts to be used in various drug discovery research projects underway at Emory. Natural products derived from medicinal plants represent a promising source of new drugs.
Emory undergraduate Sandy Jiang recently presented the results of her summer research project at the SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Emory) research symposium. The SURE program provides research training opportunities for undergraduate students over the summer break. Sandy completed her research under the supervision of Dr. Cassandra Quave and the Center for the Study of Human Health. Sandy’s research project, entitled “A Comparison of Traditional Food and Health Strategies among Taiwanese and Chinese Immigrants in Atlanta”, examined traditional knowledge and practices related to food and health . Sandy plans to continue work on this project in the fall and submit a manuscript for publication.
Abstract from the study:
Introduction: Traditional knowledge (TK) systems can play a crucial role in local health strategies and outcomes, especially among migrant communities. The aims of this study are to (1) compare traditional knowledge and practices related to food and health of Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in metro Atlanta; (2) evaluate how immigrants adapt to new medicinal frameworks; and (3) document the use of medicinal foods and local substitutes as they relate to human health in these communities.
Methods: Snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit 50 adult informants (≥ 18 years-old) from the Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant communities in metro Atlanta for participation in semi-structured interviews and structured surveys regarding the use of the local flora for medicinal and food purposes. Standard ethnobotanical methods were employed and prior informed consent was obtained for all study participants. Voucher specimens of quoted species were collected for deposit at the Emory University Herbarium.
Results: A total of 44 medicinal and/or “healthy” food plants were cited by informants as being central to their traditional health practices. Taiwanese were more likely to use Eastern medicine, plant their own food gardens, believe in the concepts of Yin and Yang, and use certain medicinal foods more than their Chinese counterparts.
Conclusions: TK concerning medical and nutritional practices of immigrant communities represents a fundamental aspect to the study of human health. Results from studies focused on the documentation and analysis of local health strategies can be used to facilitate better communication, bridging the gap between biomedical healthcare providers and users of Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) strategies in immigrant communities.
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