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Oregon Healthy Food in Health Care
October/November/December 2013 Newsletter
Happy Holidays from the Healthy Food Program!
Give the Gift of Healthy Food
The holiday season is here and in the spirit of thanks and giving, we encourage your facility to give the gift of healthy food. What is healthy food exactly? When we say “healthy” we are not just talking about fat and calories. We mean everything from how it was grown, processed, packaged and transported to you. Healthy food not only promotes individual health by providing a variety of nutrients but also supports the health of the environment and those that interact with it throughout the supply chain.
1. Antibiotics: Each year more than 2 million antibiotic resistant illness are seen and 23,000 deaths occur because of them. More than 80% of all antibiotics used in the United States are used in animal agriculture. Most of these drugs are not used for the treatment of disease but for its prevention due to poor and crowded living conditions and for growth promotion impacts. Researchers are continuing to see the impact this overuse and abuse is having on antibiotic resistance.
What you can do: By purchasing and serving meat and poultry that is produced without the routine use of antibiotics the health care sector can have a significant impact on the reduction of antibiotic resistance. Look for certifications and label claims like organic, Food Alliance, Animal Welfare Approved, USDA Never Ever 3, and “produced without the use of antibiotics” claims to ensure that you are serving a product that protects the health of humans and may encourage the improvement of humane on farm production practices.
Who’s doing it: Check out this great interview with Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, WA highlighting their efforts to address antibiotic resistance through their purchasing decisions. In a very short amount of time, they have gone from purchasing 19% of their meat from sources that do not use antibiotics to 45%.
2. Pesticides: Nearly all the food that is produced and consumed in the United States is grown with the use of pesticides. Researches continue to delve into both the environmental and health impacts of pesticide exposure but many links are already made between these chemicals and conditions such as Parkinson ’s disease, cancer, and developmental delays in children. These health implications are some of the most devastating and costly issues families, and hospitals, face. More than $200 billion is spent each year on cancer treatment alone.
What can you do: Support farmers and producers that actively reduce or avoid the use of pesticides. Look for and purchase food that is certified organic or Food Alliance certified. Or if you work directly with farms, ask about their pesticide practices and ensure that they actively eschew or seriously limit their use.
Who’s doing it: Three hospitals from the Bay Area Hospital Leadership Team worked together to aggregate demand to purchase produce from and support local and organic family farms. Together the hospitals purchased 7,210 pounds of local, organic strawberries, 3,830 pounds of local green beans, and 1,440 pounds of local stone fruit in just three months. These purchases bolstered local farms and helped protect the environment, farm workers and hospital food eaters from pesticide exposure. Because of the purchasing commitment, the local strawberry farm will double its acreage of organic strawberries next season.
3. Climate Change: Heat stroke, asthma, food insecurity, increased rates of vector borne diseases, and water contamination due to flooding are just a few of the health impacts of climate change. While much focus for climate change mitigation is placed on energy use and transportation, the agriculture sector is one area where there is also room for improvement, specifically around meat production. Globally, meat production accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than all forms of transportation combined. Between methane gas produced by cattle, forest cut down for feed grain production, and fertilizer used to grow those crops, the beef on your plate has a serious impact on the warming of the Earth.
What you can do: Take the Balanced Menus Challenge, reduce the amount of meat you purchase and serve, and look for more sustainably produced options like organic, Food Alliance Certified, American Grassfed, or Animal Welfare Approved.
Who’s doing it: Hospitals across the country are engaging in an effort to promote health, mitigate climate change, and support sustainable meat production by purchasing less meat and better meat. Oregon’s own OHSU has been engaged in this effort since 2010, purchasing beef from Carmen Ranch, a Food Alliance Certified grass-fed producer in Wallowa, Oregon. More than 40% of OHSU’s beef comes from Carmen Ranch. You can learn more about their, and other hospitals’, efforts by reading the Balanced Menus Pilot Evaluation and Case Studies.
By making changes in the food you serve you can help support the health of your patients, staff and visitors as well as the communities in which you reside. As health care facilities, we can think of no better gift for you to offer than health.
Happy holidays from our team to yours!
Food Matters: Health Professionals Gain Important Healthy Food Advocacy Skills
On December 13th more than 40 health professional attended the Food Matters: Becoming an Effective Advocate for Healthy Food Policy training. This full day event steeped participants in healthy and sustainable food systems information, connected them with community organizations working on healthy food access, farm to school and local and sustainable farm issues, and opened discussions with many local policy makers. Many of the health professionals in attendance work for area health care facilities. While this training focused on developing skills around talking to the media, persuasive writing and giving effective testimony, exposure to food system issues was a big component of the day as well. Tapping into clinicians that have an understanding and concern over how our food is produced, transported and served is a great way to garner support for new and existing efforts hospital and medical center food services have.
From doctors to nurses to registered dietitians and beyond there are many health professionals within facilities that can be an advocate for healthy food in hospital cafeterias and on patient trays. If you do not know of clinicians in your facility that could help support your healthy food efforts, contact us. Through our health professional network we may likely know a clinical advocate just waiting to help you launch your next food project.
Flying the coop: Antibiotic resistance spreads to birds, other wildlife. New research, including a crow poop study conducted in four states, provides evidence that antibiotic resistance has spread beyond hospitals and farms to wildlife. Some experts worry that contaminating wildlife with such genes may hasten the spread of drug resistance. Nevertheless, the consequences for human health remain poorly understood.
Climate change could put millions more at risk of water scarcity: Study. Although water scarcity is already a problem in many countries today due to factors like population growth, the effects of global warming could put millions more people at risk of absolute water scarcity, according to a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Report: Feeding antibiotics to livestock is bad for humans, but Congress won’t stop it. The farm and pharmaceutical lobbies have blocked all meaningful efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in raising livestock in the United States, a practice that contributes to an increasingly urgent public health risk, a study released Tuesday found.
China pushes genetically modified food. Caught between rising pressures to increase its food resources and popular skepticism over allowing more genetically modified food, China’s government is stepping up a public-relations campaign that could pave the way toward full approval for commercial production of these politically sensitive crops.
Women living near pesticide-treated fields have smaller babies. Women in Northern California farm towns gave birth to smaller babies if they lived within three miles of strawberry fields and other crops treated with the pesticide methyl bromide, according to researchers.
Strawberry industry seeks alternative pesticide tech. For decades, California strawberry growers like Rod Koda injected the potent pesticide methyl bromide into soil to kill bugs, weeds and plant diseases before planting strawberries. But new regulations are pushing growers toward non-chemical alternatives
40 percent of food Americans buy is tossed in the trash. Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy, often because of misleading expiration dates that have nothing to do with safety, according to a new study. Food waste is a big source of greenhouse gases, and also squanders vast quantities of water, land, fertilizers and other resources that go into producing it.
Living near hog waste linked to drug-resistant infections. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a link in Pennsylvania between intensive hog farming and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
Save the date for these exciting upcoming events: