Food powers our bodies and can offer comfort, nostalgia and enjoyment – but have you ever thought of how food choices and cooking can be used as medicine? University of Arizona’s Founder and Director of the Culinary Medicine Program, Dr. Farshad Fani Marvasti, is challenging new cohorts of students to think differently about the role of food in health. A Stanford trained physician and medical educator, Dr. Marvasti sees food and lifestyle therapies as a way to treat almost any medical condition and improve quality of life.
In response to student interest and an opportunity to redesign his school’s medical education curriculum for nutrition, Dr. Marvasti founded the University of Arizona’s Culinary Medicine Program. The program aspires to use food as medicine — blending the art of cooking with the science of medicine to enhance nutrition in medical education. Through innovative, service-learning opportunities, the program teaches medical and health professional students how to use nutrition and food to promote health and to prevent, treat and reverse the diseases of our time.
Aligned to Novo Nordisk’s mission to reduce the burden of chronic diseases for vulnerable populations, this program was awarded a two-year $750k grant in 2022 to help bring healthy food and nutrition education onsite to vulnerable communities in the greater Phoenix area. This grant is a part of the larger $20 million commitment made during the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to increase access to healthy food in marginalized communities and reduce barriers to chronic disease, including obesity and diabetes, and to empower organizations to drive change at the community level. We sat down with Dr. Marvasti to learn more about the goals of his program and how it seeks to help train the next generation of physicians to leverage the power of food to help prevent certain chronic conditions.