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Arboretum & NCSU Extension Service

Posted on: March 10, 2023

New Hanover Arboretum intern: Discover new flavors for National Nutrition Month

a plate of food

Last year I was lucky enough to spend my Spring Break in one of my favorite places in the world, Italy. During my trip, I was able to experience the culture, environment, and cuisine of Tuscany and Venice. Specifically, my study abroad trip focused on the Slow Food movement in Italy and how the Italians valued intentional eating. Exploring regional foods while learning the history of their roots was an experience that I will forever remember.

I have taken this knowledge of slow food with me throughout the past year, and it has influenced my life and the way I view food and nutrition, especially, the importance of being connected with your food.  

food being cooked

As a public health major at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an intern at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, I have studied and explored nutrition and healthy living. Throughout my education journey, both at a university and through my travels, I have learned what healthy living is and why it’s so important. Previously, finding the time to be intentional with the food I eat wasn’t a priority, which sometimes still rings true as I reach the end of my undergraduate years.

However, after my trip, I try to eat food that both fuels my body and brings me joy. I love making oatmeal in the mornings, trying out a new tofu dish, and roasting veggies with a spicy sauce. I see nutrition as something that is both fun and useful.  

fresh produce on a table

Since March is National Nutrition Month, I encourage whoever reads this to be more intentional with your food this month. Healthy eating can be a challenge with time and money, but there are quick and easy ways to be more mindful with our food. Exploring new flavors, eating together as a family, incorporating plant-based foods, or cooking an old favorite in a new way are all ways we can practice giving more thought into our meals. Something I am doing at the N.C. Cooperative Extension is finding new recipes each month that are inspired by the Mediterranean diet for our office to try.  

This month, let's try a new recipe or flavor together, think outside the box, and be intentional with our food.  To learn more about the Mediterranean diet or to get recipe inspiration visit  

Alison Mattocks - uncw intern

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