West Roxbury Cookbook Project emphasizes benefits of eating healthy, local foods

Alissa Bilfield as well as Adam Aronovitz, founders of The Cookbook Project (Mekhala Roy for Boston.com)By Mekhala Roy, Globe CorrespondentFor Alissa Bilfield as well as Adam Aronovitz, a young husband as well as wife team, using healthy as well as sustainable food as a medium to bring people together is their mantra.Their passion for travel, food as well as volunteer work has taken them across the globe, leading them to create The Cookbook Project, a non-profit venture based in West Roxbury which organizes workshops regionally as well as abroad aimed at educating young people about healthy cooking as well as nutrition."There is a domestic as well as international need to understand the connection between health, food as well as the environment," pronounced Bilfield. "Groups of young people who participate in our workshops learn about local healthy ingredients as well as about food sustainability."The duo partners with community organizations to conduct specialized workshops that provide participants with hands-on experience. These 'enrichment projects," as the couple calls them, typically run from three to five days. Activities such as cooking healthy dishes with local ingredients are encouraged. From putting together a simple salad on Day 1, to preparing full course dishes on the final day, the workshops are designed to learn participants to make healthy choices as well as to show how locally grown foods are more sustainable than their imported counterparts."Providing access to healthy foods to under-served communities as well as bridging the gap by teaching them how to use that food . . . is one of our central goals," pronounced Bilfield, who believes that too many Americans are becoming disconnected from their communities, including their food cultures.Last summer, The Cookbook Project held its first U.S. workshop, at the Windsor Mountain International summer camp in New Hampshire, attracting school-age participants."I am really excited about what they are doing. Their workshops help to educate t! he young generation about food, culture, as well as make them understand the connection between food as well as culture," pronounced Kerry Labovitz, director of the camp, where Aronovitz has served as the student travel leader.Internationally, the duo has organized workshops in China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand as well as India. In India, where Bilfield as well as Aronovitz had gone to study yoga in 2009, they volunteered with Odanadi, a social organization in Mysore dedicated to rescuing as well as rehabilitating victims of human trafficking. In February, The Cookbook Project held workshops that taught Odanadi members how to make use of healthy local foods in recipes.Aronovitz, a teacher at Ohrenberger School in West Roxbury, as well as Bilfield, a holistic health counselor, decided to start the non-profit after travelling for several years to do volunteer work."We realized that it was difficult to find meaningful volunteer work that matched our interests as well as skills," Aronovitz said.In August, their project received a grant that will allow them to train "local leaders" to spearhead workshops of their own in communities of their choosing. The grant was awarded by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.The Cookbook Project is now working with LitWorld, a non-profit that focuses on literacy initiatives. According to Madison Graboyes, programming coordinator for LitWorld, the food workshops are helping to empower young people to take on leadership roles as well as build their self-confidence, while also teaching them the importance of healthy eating.Come December, the couple will visit Haiti, where The Cookbook Project is partnering with Sadhana Forest Haiti, a social organization that focuses on restoration work in the aftermath of the earthquake. The project will train volunteers as well as local aid workers in food as well as nutrition, Aronovitz said.Closer to home, workshops also are planned in Jamaica Plain. For more information, visit the group's website. This article was reported as well as written by ! Northeas tern University journalism student Mekhala Roy, under the supervision of journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel (l.chedekel@neu.edu), as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe as well as Northeastern.

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