Native Foods Educator and Community Nutritionist
Valerie Segrest is an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and works as the Community Nutritionist and Native Foods Educator for the Northwest Indian College’s Cooperative Extension Department. As an independent, creative and outspoken American Indian woman, she has developed a new perspective in addressing issues of health and social justice for indigenous peoples. Her goal is to restore health and well being to her tribe and other Native communities by combining traditional Native food and plant knowledge with modern scientific findings. While studying to be a clinical nutritionist, Valerie began to deepen her awareness and knowledge of the gifts of her Native ancestors. She became less interested in talking about calorie counting, carbohydrates, and protein intake and more driven to get people connected with the source of their foods. Now, Valerie is committed to creating culturally appropriate health systems in tribal communities and exemplifies dedication to tribal wellness through community-based research that impacts health disparities. In 2009, she co-authored the book “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture” which has become a tribute to the movement among tribal people in Western Washington to improve individual, family and community wellness through revitalizing their traditional foods. From this book, Valerie has developed a basic nutrition curriculum entitled “Honor the Gift of Food” that empowers students to develop their own healthy eating behaviors through sharing modern approaches to a traditional foods diet. She also creates and designs community gardens as well as researches and writes a monthly column for her blog and community newspaper on local and wild foods of the Pacific Northwest. In years to come, Valerie will work as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project to collectively develop innovative and effective ways to build community food security through exploring tribal food assets and access to local and healthy foods.