Sam Kass, former White House senior policy advisor for nutrition policy and executive director of the Let’s Move campaign, spoke at FSD’s MenuDirections conference in February.
Q: What’s one of the biggest food-related problems facing our country?
A: Obesity is the No. 1 threat to national security—20% of what we’re spending on healthcare is due to obesity. This isn’t a policy problem. The root of our challenge is culture, and what we value in our food. The healthy choice needs to be the easy choice.
Q: What are some important steps to modeling healthy eating and creating change?
A: Every time you serve a plate, you’re teaching [diners]. You’re shaping tastes and preferences. I ask questions like, am I doing everything I can to give people healthy choices? Are there enough of those offerings? Can the dishes I’m serving right now be improved by a single ingredient switch? Is the signage promoting healthy foods?
Q: What are some healthy eating tips that busy chefs can apply to their own lives?
A: It takes conscious effort, and comes with a plan. I never go anywhere without two types of food bars; if I don’t, I make bad choices. My own strategy is a routine. Breakfast for me is the same thing every day—in the White House, it was a banana, coffee and oatmeal. If you’re cooking at home, I try to make leftovers and bring that with me [for lunch]. I eat what I see, so I try to make sure I’m surrounding myself with healthy choices.