Long the butt of jokes, hospital food could be healthier for both patients and the planet. Last November, 240 participants at FoodMed, a first-of-its-kind conference, discussed how large hospitals could burnish both their culinary and their environmental credentials. The solution, reports In Good Tilth (Jan./Feb. 2006), is leveraging their clout and purchasing power to buy local, organic, whole foods.
Health Care Without Harm, a nonprofit coalition that cosponsored the conference, has led the call for 'ecological thinking' about hospital food. Hospital menus favor highly refined foods, the group says, and 'hidden behind these nutritional imbalances is a food system largely reliant on methods of production and distribution that hurt us and the environment in which we live.'
Some hospitals are making changes. Conglomerate Kaiser Permanente is working to set up farmers' markets on some of its hospital grounds. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, offers organic foods and fair trade coffee. And Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, buys organic produce from a community-based nonprofit farm.
For more information about the HCWH campaign, visit www.noharm.org.