In her job as a nutrition therapist for the expatriate community of Baku, Azerbaijan, Valerie Houghton, RD, travels to oil rigs to do nutrition presentations and marks up photocopies of Russian-labeled foods with English translations. Azerbaijan, an oil-rich country on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, has a long history of Persian and Russian rule—influences that still dominate the local cuisine. Spicy beef, lamb, and poultry are often paired with saffron, spinach, and potatoes, and vodka is the favorite drink. Unfortunately, the country's health care infrastructure also dates from the Cold War era. “Food safety is an issue,” Houghton says. “What we take for granted about preventative health care doesn't exist—there's no smoking cessation information, and no information about cancers, diet, or heart disease.” When Houghton approached the International SOS clinic in Baku about the services she could offer, the clinic jumped at the chance to create a job for her. “I'm the only dietitian I know in Azerbaijan who has a pamphlet about what I do,” she laughs, adding that she has so far met only one other dietitian in the country.
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This article was written by Sara Aase, a freelance writer in Minneapolis, MN. Aase is an award-winning journalist who frequently writes about health, business, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Weekly Reader Current Health, Minnesota Monthly, Twin Cities Business, Pregnancy, Parenting, Hemispheres, and American Baby.
© 2009 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.