This summer, researcher Mariluz Cádiz hosted a workshop in Tarifa on nutrition for children aged 6 – 10 as part of the ‘Ciencia al Fresquito’ (‘Science in the Fresh Air’) series.
“We should all learn about healthy eating when we are young; to understand the food pyramid and how to incorporate it into our every day lives; how to cook when you have little time, and how to follow a balanced and varied diet that covers all the required nutrients. A healthy diet helps our bodies fight disease and ensures long-term health; it’s not just about avoiding pastries or eating salads every day”, explains Mariluz Cádiz.
Mariluz Cádiz has a Doctorate in chemistry and is a researcher at the University of Granada with a specialization in the development of functional foods to aid health and wellbeing.
Mariluz hosted a workshop for children aged 6 – 10 in her hometown of Tarifa this summer, in the auspices of the ‘Fundación Descrubre’ (the ‘Discover Foundation’) as well as that of the very informative ‘Ciencia al Fresquito’ program, and the results could not have been better.
“The kids really enjoyed the first part of the workshop which focussed on putting together healthy menus using the food pyramid.
In the second part of the series, they learned about the antioxidant properties of plants through simple experiments, and how the nutritional value of certain foods can be enhanced by adding nutrients such as calcium, omega 3 etc…”
Mariluz, who has a master’s degrees in Biotechnology, Quality Management and the Environment, says that it was an enriching experience for her to see so much enthusiasm among the children as well as their parents. This kind of hands-on approach to learning should be worked on and implemented to reach as many people as possible.
“It’s nice to see children becoming increasingly interested in nutrition and science in general, but I also think it’s important that parents should demand more of these kinds of informative workshops. It would be great if we had these types of workshops for adults too because they are, after all, the ones who go to the supermarket and decide what everyone eats at home.”
This summer, we have seen outbreaks of listeriosis in Spain which has caused public alarm, and this can be seen all over social media. This kind of news has attracted everyone’s attention and in Dr. Cadiz’s opinion, today’s society demands more training and truthful information on these issues.
“Recently, we have become increasingly concerned about what we eat, but at the same time there is still much ignorance, pseudoscience and misinformation out there in relation to food … We want even more disclosure of information and we want to make science understandable and more accessible to everyone.”
Mariluz Cádiz regrets that science is still not given the attention that it deserves in Spain, nor are enough money or resources allocated to research that would create a more informed and healthier society, and as a result of which, public healthcare expenditure would decrease.
“The population should be aware that research is crucial because, among other reasons, it serves to cut back chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and other illnesses that prove to be very expensive – so this has a negative impact on the economy as well as society at large.”
This Tarifa scientist, who was a national finalist in the 2019 ‘Famelab’ (Science Communication Competition), says that “it is good to get out there, train and broaden your horizons, but the problem is that many of us in the field have to leave Spain due to the lack of opportunities … there is not enough work for researchers, and in any event it is a poorly paid job; most of us have to work at the cost of high effort and sacrifice without being able to fully devote our time to it. Working conditions in other European countries are much better.”
Something needs to change, and that change can only come about when we form new ways of thinking and raising awareness for new generations.
Mariluz Cádiz: “Being healthy doesn’t mean eating salad every day”