Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Alert

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Alert

Article excerpt

Should hospital food come with warning labels?

Hospital food leaves a lot to be desired, as everyone knows. But you'd at least expect the food dished out in hospital cafeterias to be healthy (even if it's not going to win any food critic awards), right?

Wrong. Turns out, the meals many US hospitals sell to patients and staff are not only lacking in nutrition, but can actually be detrimental, according to the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative report conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit in Washington, DC. "In many places, you can't find a healthy meal if you warn one!" says Amy Lanou, a report co-author.

More than two-thirds of the cafeterias evaluated in the study (which looked at 25 hospital cafeterias in 17 states) don't offer on a daily basis salad bars, low-fat vegetarian entrees, nondairy milks or bean dishes.

But change is in the air. AS hospitals turn their focus towards total wellness (and away from a fix-'envup, get-'em-out policy), "the leaders are looking at prevention through diet because there's no way we can just use technology to fix patients' problems," says Jamie Harvie, co-chair of the Healthy Food workgroup at Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition formed to reduce the environmental impact ot the health care industry.

Making hospital food better means going green for some. "We're starting to see health care systems have a broader understanding of their relationship to community and global health," says Harvie. For instance, Kaiser Permanente, headquartered in Oakland, CA, is working toward a healthier tood supply. …

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