Under a National Institute of Health grant, Lisa Gaetke, professor at the University of Kentucky and teacher in the Dietetic and Human Nutrition Department, spoke at the Harlan County Extension Depot on Thursday.
Gaetke said this grant is involved with hazardous waste sites, particularly superfund sites, which are part of the superfund program started back in 1984.
“It’s for bad hazardous waste sites that were left by companies,” said Gaetke. “so the Environmental Protection Agency needed to clean these up, particularly if companies left things. The EPA was set up to take care of these sites. There are about 16 universities that have these sites and the University of Kentucky is one of them. Our focus is nutrition — something protective you can do if you live close to a hazardous waste site or a superfund site. There happens to be a superfund site here in the county at Dayhoit. That is the reason we come here to present these demonstrations.”
According to information from the University of Kentucky’s Superfund Research website it says: “Even with the best cleanup efforts, it is nearly impossible to remove all harmful chemicals at a site. Other ways to lessen harmful effects are needed. To this end, Bernhard Hennig, Ph.D., leads a research program studying how diet affects the toxicity of environmental contaminants. His team discovered that some food components can interfere with cellular function, while others can protect against cell damage. They found that the type of fat in a diet, not just the amount — can reduce cell damage triggered by polychlorinated biphenyls. For example, Hennig found that a diet with a high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, or diets supplemented with green tea, can reduce cell and tissue damage caused by PCBs and other pollutants. They also found diets rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and other plant foods, can protect against PCB-induced blood vessel, or vascular, inflammation and associated diseases.
“Exposure to Superfund chemicals has been shown to affect public health by contributing to an increased risk for chronic diseases especially in combination with poor diet. Through collaboration with the community and community partners, the University of Kentucky-Superfund Research Program’s Community Engagement Core’s Superfund Community Action through Nutrition activities empower affected individuals to make more informed decisions about their diet and health and improve nutrition and environmental health knowledge and behaviors to serve all interested individuals, families and communities and thereby enhance public health.”
“My effort is to show people vegetables and the vitamins that will help people — protect them from any kind of hazardous waste pollution or whatever,” said Gaetke. “We have been coming to Harlan County for the past 10 years. I often bring Chef J.C. Clark, of Lexington, with me to cook and talk about healthy cooking.”
A chef for the past 16 years, Clark said he has participated in this program and coming to Harlan County for the past four or five years. He is the lead chef at Krogers in Nicholasville at Brannon Crossing.
“I always enjoy coming to Harlan County,” said Clark. “We are appreciative to the Harlan County Extension Service for allowing us use of their facility for our presentations.”
Healthy recipes and other items were presented to those attending, along with door prizes. Each participant was given a sample of the food prepared, which included a hearty beef stew, a homemade marinara sauce with herbs and fresh vegetables and an apple crisp dessert.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde