Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Hospitals Dish Up Healthier Food

Chef Frank Turner buys local and organic food every Wednesday from a farmers market a few yards from where he works.

Turner uses tomatoes, greens, onions, squash and other produce from approximately 18 vendors who set up each week on the grounds of Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, Mich.

The meals he creates from the fresh food aren't served to restaurant patrons. They'll most likely be enjoyed by someone in bed because Turner is executive chef of the hospital and his customers are patients.

"Fresh is just a lot healthier for you than something that has traveled 1,800 miles," Turner said. "I design our menus from a chef's perspective, so what I am serving a patient I would be proud to serve at a restaurant three miles down the street."

In June, the hospital farmers market began as an opportunity for local food to reach Detroit-area consumers and hospital employees, visitors and patients.

And its efforts aren't unique.

In fact, Henry Ford is one of 260 hospitals promising to support sustainable food. Health Care without Harm, an organization promoting ecological practices in health care institutions, began the "Health Food in Health Care" pledge three years ago.

It represents a commitment to work with local farmers and community-based food suppliers, minimize food waste and provide more sustainable and healthier food choices.

"Hospitals should have a vested interest in improving ecological, community and global health because they are all interrelated," said Jamie Harvie, food coordinator with Health Care without Harm, which is based in Arlington, Va. "It's a way of thinking holistically at a global level."

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