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Slow Food helping athletes to go faster

New program combines locally grown food and lessons on how to cook

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The most basic rule of nutrition has always been that we are what we eat — people who eat healthy food tend to be healthy, while people who choose foods for convenience or personal preference are more likely to be sick, tired, overweight, or develop health problems later in life.

For athletes, who rely on creating a physical or mental edge over other athletes, eating the right foods at the right time can be as important as training.

That’s why Slow Food Whistler and PacificSport Sea to Sky have joined forces with the North Arm Farm’s Harvest Box program to provide athletes with organic foods and cooking classes to teach them how to turn those foods into meals.

The first Harvest Cooking Class took place Tuesday at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, with 20 athletes, coaches and parents taking part. Grant Cousar of Whistler Cooks, a member of Slow Food Whistler, walked the participants through the ingredients in this week’s Harvest Box and showed them how to make soup, roast root vegetables, and desert.

“Basically it’s about showing them easy ways to cook for themselves, with good quality, fresh ingredients,” said Cousar. “I’m speaking as a layman, but it stands to reason that fresh foods that are largely grown in the area are going to be better for an athlete than something dried or out of a can. From a sustainable standpoint it makes a lot of sense, and it makes sense when you’re on a budget and need to be healthy.

“I was actually surprised how aware this group was of the foods we have and Slow Food in general. They were less knowledgeable when it came to preparing the food, or how easy it is to turn the ingredients into a really good meal.”

Diana Rochon, a personal trainer who works with PacificSport and a member of Slow Food Whistler, helped to come up with the program.

“Many athletes have to work, and train, they don’t have a lot of money or time,” said Rochon. “They don’t always eat 100 per cent healthy — or even know where to go to get good, healthy food.

“The do work with dieticians and sports nutritionists, but in the end the athletes still have to connect with the food. They don’t know how to grocery shop, and pick the best foods. And they don’t know how to cook. As a result they pick convenience foods, which is understandable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can show them what to buy, and how to prepare it so they’ll have leftovers for the week… that’s the fastest food of all.”

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