In the past three years, Catherine Atwood of south Charlotte has taught more than 100 people how to cook using traditional, and sometimes ancient, methods. A certified holistic nutrition consultant, Atwood says she rarely goes out in south Charlotte without running into a former student.
Atwood now is offering regular events to bring together people who want to learn more about traditional cooking methods and local foods.
Atwood founded of the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation in early 2010. The national organization is based on Price's worldwide research of nutrition and uses education, research and activism to promote restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet.
Initially, Atwood's job as chapter leader was to answer emails and phone calls from people looking for sources of local food, such as raw milk and grass-fed beef. Now she's adding quarterly gatherings for chapter members and the community.
Carolyn Erickson, a former student of Atwood's, is chapter co-leader. In addition to the 100 alumni of Atwood's classes, the local foundation chapter has about 50 members.
On Monday, Atwood will lead a multimedia presentation about Price's research and food topics such as fats, eggs, superfoods and organic produce. The free event begins 6:30 p.m. at The Well Church & Coffeehouse, 220 Main St. in Pineville. The presentation is a way to "gently" ease people into this approach to food, Atwood said.
Many of the cooking ideas Atwood teaches are outlined in the cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.
Atwood said her first exposure to traditional cooking methods and ingredients came as a child, when her mother made yogurt and chicken stock and refused to replace real butter with margarine.
"There were a lot of things that she did that were really the nourishing traditions way," Atwood said. "It's not something new. It's really just exposing some of the traditional practices of old that have a lot of wisdom for the body."
Atwood stresses that her cooking classes and food presentations are not a weight-loss program; instead, they promote a lifestyle of healthy cooking and eating.
Many students come to her class wanting to learn how to cook for people with food allergies. Others want to improve their health.
Almost everyone, Atwood says, leaves the class with at least one idea they latch onto for healthier cooking.
"One of the blessings of doing this is you see people first coming in and they are unsure, and then they take baby steps and become bolder (in preparing food), and then the health of their families flourish as a result," Atwood said.