The right stuff: Port Townsend Library sets up nutritional database

PORT TOWNSEND — Reading and eating go together, but it’s not something librarians usually encourage.

Sitting down to a lunch and a library book can result in colorful twists to the plot line.

Curling up with coffee, cookies and a who-done-it can leave behind incriminating evidence.

But with the Port Townsend Library’s newest program, food is on the menu.

On Thursday, the library launched a new program highlighting local and online resources for making healthy eating choices.

The goal: To help people find their way through the maze of information about food and nutrition, according to Theresa Percy, library director.

“Unfortunately, Dr. Google is too often the first resource people consult when they’re looking for health and nutrition information,” Percy said.

Consumerism course

Called “Serving Up Resources for Healthy Eating,” the program started Thursday with a free, five-part course on food consumerism by Brwyn Griffin, outreach and education coordinator for the Food Coop.

The first presentation focused on what and what is not required to be listed on food labels.

Subsequent one-hour programs, all at 7 p.m., will cover how to choose and use non-traditional grains (Oct. 29), making small additions to your diet that add up big (Nov. 5), why not all oils are created equal (Nov. 12), and what difference choosing organic dairy, meat and produce makes (Nov. 19).

“It’s a broad overview of food choices and how to maneuver through all the variety,” Griffin said.

“I’m not telling you what you should do, but giving information and examples about what’s available.”

The Port Townsend Library has also cooked up a new food-related Web site, www.HealthyEatingLibrary.org, featuring links to sites that have passed muster with health officials and research librarians.

They include the National Library of Medicine, which has extensive consumer resources, plus state and local resources and updates on the latest in the field.

“We’re tweeting for healthy eating,” Percy said.

“Serving Up Resources for Healthy Eating,” is part of a national initiative called Healthy People 2010, which aims at improving the health of Americans.

With an outreach award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest region, the Friends of the Library is funding the program, which includes expansion of the city library’s resources in the areas of nutrition, food purchasing and food preparation, Percy said.

Project coordinator

Coordinating the library’s “Healthy Eating” project is Carol Cahill, research project manager of the Center for Community Health and Evaluation at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

A former Port Townsend reference librarian, Cahill will be offering workshops on how to search online for health and nutrition information.

“It’s mainly promoting some of the better Web sites for looking up information on health and nutrition, especially the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and tips and tricks for using them,” Cahill said.

“They usually are higher quality than commercial sites, and have good search capacity.

“You can often find better information faster.”

Cahill was part of the team that evaluated the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living Research Program, she said.

“Serving Up Healthy Eating,” is part of the Port Townsend Library’s long-term plan to improve library services to individuals and families, Cahill said.

The consumer education series is offered in partnership with the Food Coop.

For more information go to www.HealthyEating Library.org or phone the library at 360-385-3181.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@olypen.com.

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