Amid the blasts of late season snow across the Midwest and East Coast, signs of spring are beginning to emerge. The early daffodils and crocuses are raising their heads, kites are flying and daylight hours are longer. It’s time to march into spring … and celebrate food, agriculture and all the women that lead the way across the table. After all, March is National Women’s History Month along with National Nutrition Month and National Ag Day!
Called to Lead
Women have been leading the way from the kitchen table to the board table over the years — sometimes acknowledged and other times not. Since 1984, March has been designated as Women’s History Month to celebrate the contributions of women everywhere. This is the perfect time to highlight a book my dietitian colleague and friend Barbara R. Baron co-authored: Called to Lead: Success Strategies for Women. As one of 18 contributors, Barbara talks about how her grandmother and mother’s mentorship in an Italian American kitchen provided the foundation for leadership within the family and her profession. In her chapter “ABBONDANZA!!! Food, Family, and Faith,” Barbara shares four tips for women (and men) leaders:
1. Operate in Hope Not Fear – During the past couple of years, hope has waned at times and fears set in. Barbara reminds us that “having the support and encouragement of family (and friends) is priceless. It helps us open our minds to be our best.” Being positive among the naysayers and keeping your eye on the vision is a sign of true leadership.
2. Dish Up a New Experience – Whether it’s around the family kitchen table or the board table, honoring the past while building for the future is the best of both worlds. When it comes to honoring and celebrating family traditions, Barbara states, “It’s fun and can also be more meaningful when we create and share new traditions around food and meals unique to our immediate family” or community. As communities like my own welcome new culturally diverse neighbors, creating the bond of friendship and inclusion around the table builds mentorship and leadership.
3. Celebrate Not Dissipate Ancestor’s Treasures – If one is to lead, it’s often said “we must jump into the skin of the other person” to understand their views and background. As Barbara states, it’s important to have “an appreciation, of learning the ‘why and how’ of our own cultures as well of others.” Whether we provide food for the nourishment of our bodies or minds, respect is vital to understanding the backgrounds of those around us.
4. Choose Calm Over Chaos, Sharing Gratitude – Being calm and grateful is never easy but in today’s world, we are challenged! As Barbara states, “There is so much vying for our attention, my advice is to slow down, appreciate, and enjoy family and food from farm to table.” During the pandemic, we did gather around the table more and cooked. It was easier to make time but often friends were missing. As life has become more “normal,” Barbara reminds us to “always make the time (to be at the table)” and “be grateful that we can share a meal with family and friends.” Finally, she reminds us that “sharing a meal together NOURISHES Mind, Body, and Soul … strengthening us as people in so many ways.”
Building collaborations from farmgate to the table requires leadership. With women in the majority among university agricultural, nutrition and dietetic majors, new avenues of seeking solutions and building a future among the chaos are on the horizon. For all of us, may we feel ABBONDANZA — a sense of abundance honoring our food, family and faith. And as Barbara says, “Always make time for a meal with family and friends!”
Note: Barbara will provide a signed copy of Called to Lead and honor a 10% discount if the book is ordered directly from her website using the promo code “CelebrateWorldofFlavors.”
Called to Lead: Success Strategies for Women, a collaboration with 18 authors across the globe. Chapter titled “ABBONDANZA!!! Food, Family, and Faith” by Barbara R. Baron, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND. Available on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback, and on Audible.
“Nutritious meals can be fun and uncomplicated,” Interview with Barbara Baron on the “Business Notes” Podcast with Diane Bogino, April 16, 2021.
Barbara R. Baron, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND. Former president, National Speakers Association, New Jersey Chapter. “Be Your own ‘MVP’ with Moderation, Variety & Planning!”® Family Meals Dietitian® Building a Healthier You —One Meal at a Time!® Contact Barbara: