Stanford University Hospital: Come for Surgery, Stay for the Food
Props to Stanford University's Hospital and Clinics (SHC) for their Farm Fresh Program, which offers inpatients locally sourced, organic cuisine during their hospitals stays. SHC is working with restaurateur and food writer Jesse Cool, who stands to be the world's first celebrity hospital chef. In addition to the food, the program incorporates tray liners, bowls, cups and utensils that are all made from reusable, compostable or recyclable materials.
Stanford's program is part of a larger movement toward promoting both individual and environmental health in the world of healthcare. The movement's chief proponent is Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), who has been promoting a broad set of initiatives to make sure that international medical institutions are curing more ills than they are creating. Their "Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge" has been embraced by both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Nurse's Association (ANA) and other medical institutions. The pledge is a comprehensive set of initiatives that address cradle-to-cradle issues in the healthcare system. Here are a few points from the pledge regarding food:
- Educate and communicate within the system and to patients and community about nutritious, socially just and ecological sustainable food, healthy food practices and procedures.
- Minimize or beneficially reuse food waste and support the use of food packaging and products that are ecologically protective
- Develop a program to promote and source from producers and processors that uphold the dignity of family, farmers, workers, and their communities and support sustainable and humane agriculture systems.
Of course, not every hospital has taken the pledge (as of February, over 200 hospitals took it), and even within those that have, its implementation may be less than complete; for example, Stanford's program is for inpatients, which likely means that if you're visiting a patient there, you will be relegated to crummy cafeteria fare while the patient enjoys his organic potato leek soup.