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St. Luke's hospital invests in organic farm to provide health-promoting food to patients

Organic farm

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(NaturalNews) Serving mystery meat, French fries, sugar drinks and Jell-O on a tray is no standard of care, especially for a hospital, which should be leading the way -- boosting patients' ability to heal with the most nutrient-dense foods. Sadly, hospitals have evolved into conveyor belts over time, serving processed foods en masse, foods that must ache from their lack of nutrition. The ache and the void are passed to the patient, limiting their ability to recover and heal.

One must wonder why menu items don't include snacks like selenium-rich Brazil nuts and antioxidant-rich blueberries. Why aren't hospitals serving fresh juices, containing real apples, pears, oranges, carrot, ginger and lemon? How might a fresh herb garden spice up dinner dishes while boosting the healing benefit of the meal? How might a kale-, spinach- and chia-based smoothie lift energy levels of patients? What if hospitals worked directly with organic farms to provide the ill and injured with the most recuperative food, full of minerals like zinc, which helps the body heal?

Farm and hospital working together to set a new standard for patient wellness and recovery

Some hospitals are beginning to wake up to the challenge. In fact, six hospital campuses of St. Luke's in Pennsylvania have teamed up with the Rodale Institute, working together to provide organic produce to patients. Organic produce is now being grown on St. Luke Anderson Campus, in the fields next to the hospital. The hospital's food services vendor, Sodexo Inc., is now bringing in health-promoting foods straight from the neighboring field, providing employees, visitors and patients with a diverse selection of farm-fresh produce.

Ed Nawrocki, President of St. Luke's Anderson Campus, is setting a valuable precedent for other hospitals to follow. "Working with the Rodale Institute to develop an organic, working farm onsite will allow St. Luke's to continue providing patients with a holistic health care experience that creates a positive atmosphere for health and healing," he said. "By providing patients with locally-grown organic produce, St. Luke's is showing a commitment to the environment and promoting the health of its patients and the community."

The new on-site organic food project is not only boosting the spirit of the employees and patients, but it's also bringing community awareness, connecting the dots between healthy food selection and well-being.

Bonnie Coyle, MD, MS, and Director of Community Health at St. Luke's University Health Network, is definitely on board with the program. "Numerous studies prove that organic fruits and vegetables offer many advantages over conventionally-grown foods, such as: increased amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which reduce incidence of heart disease and some cancers; and a lowered risk of common conditions such as cancer, heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children," she said.

Rodale Institute begins a hospital food revolution, providing 44,000 lbs of organic produce in first year

Projects like these are civilly disobedient, deviating from the norm, but are exactly the kind of constructive and positive act of revolution needed for the world to heal. The Rodale Institute is setting a fine example of real healthcare reform, something that forced government insurance payment plans could never accomplish.

Rodale's organic farming practice only takes up five acres of the sprawling 500 total acres that make up St. Luke's Anderson Campus. In the first year, 44,000 pounds of fresh produce was harvested, including lettuce and salad greens, a plethora of herbs, peppers, kale, cucumbers, summer squash, broccoli, tomatoes, Swiss chard, garlic, cabbage, beets and potatoes.

The produce from the five-acre farm is distributed to all six of St. Luke's hospitals. Sodexo uses the organic produce on a daily basis for patient care and for equipping the hospital cafeteria. With the help of organic vegetable farmer Lynn Trizna, the Rodale Institute ensures the highest quality produce -- produce that isn't affected by mass application of pesticides known to make people sicker. Lynn Trizna oversees the USDA Organic Certification process and ensures that the land was transitioned and will continue to be sustained as organic. A 1,120 sq ft. hoop house was constructed in the spring of 2014 to make way for an extended growing season.

Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale Institute, says that the farm will double in size in the near future, providing more than 100,000 pounds of organic produce yearly.

Smallwood said, "In addition to providing patients, families and staff at the hospitals with fresh, organic produce, organic agriculture builds healthy soil. Organic agriculture reduces pollution from run-off, prevents toxic chemicals from building up in our ecosystem and is a primary driver in carbon sequestration. This partnership presents a 'farm to hospital' model which can be replicated around the world. We're proud to be proving concepts once thought impossible."






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