Quantcast

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

Popular

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn't matter how or what we eat, there is a quick fix around the corner for whatever ails us—whether we're obese, have high blood pressure or bad cholesterol—just to name a few of the issues plaguing our society.

A sign directs visitors and patients to the St. Luke's Rodale Institute Organic Farm, adjacent to the hospital. Photo credit: Bill Noll

It now seems almost revolutionary to think that we can change our health by changing the food we eat.

But, one hospital in Pennsylvania thought just that.

In 2014, Rodale Institute, in partnership with St. Luke's University Health Network, launched a true farm to hospital food program.

The Anderson Campus at St. Luke's has more than 300 acres of farmland, much of which had historically been farmed conventionally with crops like corn and soy. The hospital administration recognized the impact that providing fresh, local organic produce could have on patient health and approached Rodale Institute to transition the land to organic and farm vegetables to be used in patient meals as well as in the cafeteria.

The five acre farm at the St. Luke's Anderson campus in Bethlehem, PA. Photo credit: Bill Noll

Lynn Trizna, or Farmer Lynn, as she's known around St. Luke's, provides food to all six hospitals within the network. This year, she is growing five acres of vegetables with plans to expand to ten acres in 2015. She estimates about 44,000 lbs of produce from her farm will be served in the hospital, just this season. She is paid a salary through Rodale Institute and has employed three staff members, all aspiring farmers.

Farmer Lynn Trizna. Photo credit: Bill Noll

With a three-year plan in place, Rodale Institute and St. Luke's see the potential for expansion. We envision growing the program to include fifteen to twenty farmers—supporting new farmers who don't have access to land; greenhouses that allow for year round production of produce; and a small batch cannery, ensuring that we can enjoy the harvest, even in the coldest months of winter.

We have created this model with the belief that it can, and should, be replicated at every hospital throughout the U.S.

So, the next time you're feeling a bit under the weather, stop—think of us and Hippocrates' words of wisdom. Maybe you'll then look to the garden for a cure, instead of the medicine cabinet.

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

9 Ways to Use the 'Swiss Army Knife' of Essential Oils

Why You Should Drink Organic Coffee

25 Vegan Sources of Calcium

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Marlene Cimons

Scientist Aaswath Raman long has been keen on discovering new sources of clean energy by creating novel materials that can make use of heat and light.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

The aloe vera plant is a succulent that stores water in its leaves in the form of a gel.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Attendees seen at the Inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration at Los Angeles Grand Park on Oct. 8, 2018 in Los Angeles. Chelsea Guglielmino / Getty Images

By Malinda Maynor Lowery

Increasingly, Columbus Day is giving people pause.

Read More Show Less
Westend61 / Getty Images

By Brianna Elliott, RD

Hunger is your body's natural cue that it needs more food.

Read More Show Less
Young activists and their supporters rally for action on climate change on Sept. 20 in New York City. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

More than 58 million people currently living in the U.S. — 17 percent of the population — are of Latin-American descent. By 2065 that percentage is expected to rise to nearly a quarter. Hardly a monolith, this diverse group includes people with roots in dozens of countries; they or their ancestors might have arrived here at any point between the 1500s and today. They differ culturally, linguistically and politically.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Thu Thai Thanh / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Commonly consumed vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, peppers, carrots, and cabbage, provide abundant nutrients and flavors. It's no wonder that they're among the most popular varieties worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Petrochemical facilities in the Houston ship channel. Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

Prigi Arisandi, who founded the environmental group Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, picks through a heap of worn plastic packaging in Mojokerto, Indonesia. Reading the labels, he calls out where the trash originated: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada. The logos range from Nestlé to Bob's Red Mill, Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts.

The trash of rich nations has become the burden of poorer countries.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Lisa Wartenberg, MFA, RD, LD

Caffeine's popularity as a natural stimulant is unparalleled.

Read More Show Less