What we think was the money quote in a Time Magazine article on hospital food is ""They're starting to see food not simply as a cost but as a prevention-and-treatment issue," says Scott Exo, head of the Oregon-based Food Alliance". The article also cites a 'driver' for the trend in organic food use as "hospitals trying to attract well-heeled customers with generous health insurance." It's a not-too-tasty irony that wealth and obesity are inversely correlated among US citizens. Are hospital administrators really thinking that way, given how contradictory the "well-heeled" focus is with the 'money quote?' Well, the Time article also mentions that United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has been contracted to supply organic products to numerous hospitals. We think there's a plausible case to be made that health food and health services will become symbiotically more sustainable, contingent on hospitals hiring talented cooks instead of just dieticians to work on the recipes and menus! (Hint to the industry: check out the recipes on TreeHugger.) In this scenario, people of all income levels will seek out doctors affiliated with the hospitals that offer the best chow and have staff "dieticians" who aggressively coach their patients in healthier eating habits. The desired end-state comes about if insurance companies see reduced claims for patients served in this manner. Delusional optimism you say? It took 40 years for American culture to center around 'Super sizing'. That's nearly a generation. Healthier diet requires a sea change in culture and perhaps a similar period of time to re-form on a broad scale. But what better place to start than the health care "industry?"
Noteworthy: TreeHugger suggests it would be worth your time to read the UNFI Social and Environmental Policy Statement located here.
UPDATE: Photo credit to Liz Hickock's Jello The City. Very difficult to find a neutral and familiar graphic depiction of 'hospital food' that does not tread on a brand name or locality. Ms. Hickock's project is a wonder.