Food & Drink

On The Table: Saying farewell, and what I’ve learned

Friends, after nearly 12 years and 600 columns, it’s time. This is my last installment of On The Table.

You’d think by now we would have exhausted the topics to talk about. Nope.

The nature of nutrition science and health policy is that they are always changing. And the social, economic, political and organizational conditions of the environment we live in increase the complexity of deciphering it all and making choices that support health.

That’s what prompted me to launch this column in January 2003. The idea was to explain what to eat but also to raise awareness of policy issues and empower readers to get involved.

It’s been a joy and privilege to get to know so many of you. You’ve sent thousands of email messages, and some of you have become longtime friends.

Looking back, a few observations stand out. They include:

• Most people just want to know what to eat for dinner tonight. Columns that generated the most reader feedback focused on simple advice about what to eat, what to avoid, and tips for meal planning and preparation.

• You need support. Many of you lack access to expert advice tailored to your individual needs and social support to maintain a lifestyle change.

The column provided recommendations for the general public, but reliable, personalized nutrition counseling is hard to find and insurance coverage for it is limited.

• Nutrition navigation is a skill you hone over time. Many of you have made it a personal quest to continue to learn and improve your diets.

We are flooded with information from varied sources. Even the experts find it challenging to keep up.

But I know this newspaper is committed to providing nutrition news you can use. I look forward to discovering new voices and fresh perspectives in this space.

And you’ll be able to find an online archive of my columns at

Heartfelt thanks to my friends past and present at The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer for their support of this column for all these years. Special thanks to my husband, Mike Hobbs, first reader and expert editing coach.

And to you, faithful On The Table readers, warmest wishes for your health and happiness.

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.