Organic Food in Hospitals–What a Concept!
Fresh, healthy, organic food is often not even considered in the American health care system. Many hospitals serve their patients foods like jello and cream of wheat and other processed foods, instead of what all the evidence points to that we need to create wellness–an organic whole food diet. However, some forward-thinking U.S. hospitals are changing that! Stony Brook University Hospital become one of the first hospitals with an on-site farm back in 2011. They are including this organic produce in their patients meals served at their facility! What a concept!
I spoke with Annemarie Ng who is a registered dietitian and clinical preceptor for the Stony Brook Medicine Dietetic Internship Program. She is co-manager of the Stony Brook Heights Rooftop Farm. Let’s listen to Annemarie share how they are doing this at Stony Brook in this short interview:
Other medical facilities who are growing organic produce:
- ST. LUKE’S RODALE INSTITUTE ORGANIC FARM, EASTON, PENN
When St. Luke’s University Health Network decided to develop an organic farm on the acreage surrounding its Anderson Campus. They partnered with the nearby Rodale Institute, a nonprofit that has been at the leading edge of organic agricultural research since the 1940s. Launched in 2014, the 11.5-acre farm yields more than 60,000 pounds of produce each year, which is served at all 10 hospitals in the St. Luke’s University Health Network.
- DEAVER WELLNESS FARM AT LANKENAU MEDICAL CENTER, WYNNEWOOD, PENN
Part of a nonprofit Greener Partners, Lankenau Medical Center, launched its Deaver Wellness Farm on Earth Day 2016. Featuring a greenhouse, 36 gardens, and a composting space, the farm serves as a hands-on classroom for more than 10,000 children annually, with 90-minute classes on topics such as nutrition, composting, and food justice.
- SKY FARM EDUCATIONAL CENTER AT ESKENAZI HEALTH, INDIANAPOLIS
Started in 2013, Sky Farm overlooks downtown Indianapolis is on top of Eskenazi Health’s outpatient care center. Its 5,000 sf urban farm is managed with the help of volunteers and is also open to the public. The farm produces crops year-round, including lettuce, onions, and broccoli, which are harvested and used in free nutrition classes. Sky Farm also grows flowers to make into bouquets for patients.
- BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER ROOFTOP FARM, BOSTON
Boston Medical Center started its rooftop farm in 2017 as part of its Nourishing Our Community initiative. The farm yields as much as 3 tons of produce annually and is enough food to serve 1,800 meals daily, and they do this on less than 3,000 cubic feet of growing space. The vegetables and herbs grown make their way to the cafeteria, inpatient meals, and the Preventive Food Pantry, which offers free produce to low-income patients who present “prescriptions” from their doctors. The produce grown also stocks an on-site teaching kitchen, which offers patients and local residents free classes in healthy cooking and eating.
We love what these medical facilities are doing and we need more of them. We are in a health crisis and this has not just been since Covid. The amount of chemicals in our food, air, water and environment has vastly increased over the last 30-40 years and it is time to do something different. We can start in our homes by eating organic, teaching our children to cook, growing our own food if we can, shopping at local farmers markets, educating ourselves, and sharing information like this with others!
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