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Bethanne Kim  

All Hospitals Should Have Organic Greenhouses

We see memes online all the time, especially on Facebook. One that caught my eye came from Food, Inc and used an image from Henry Ford Hospital near Detroit, Michigan. It showed a greenhouse and said “All Hospitals Should Have Organic Greenhouses”.

Personally, I believe the label and certifications of things as “organic” are generally meaningless. Things can BE organic without earning the label because everything wasn’t documented properly, and they can NOT BE truly organic and manage to get labeled that way by subterfuge. Labeling issues aside, I think “organic” is generally preferable. I just don’t find eating pesticides appetizing.

Healthier Choices

It’s hard to see how organic could fail to be healthier than chemically treated. And it’s even harder to see how food that is high in nutritional content could fail to help a body heal faster than food that isn’t. So the idea of a hospital growing their own produce, under their own control so they know exactly what has and hasn’t been added to it, strikes me as brilliant.

When you order food, if you don’t use it quickly, you either serve it past its prime or throw it away, losing money. When you grow food, you can see what is almost ripe and adjust your meal plan to use it – all of it, or close to all of it – while it’s at the peak of freshness and flavor. The fruits and veggies grown in your own yard or the hospital (or school) greenhouses are served within hours, not days or weeks, of being harvested.

Personally, I would be hard pressed to eat less veggies and I’m not much better about fruit. I think I’m not alone in that. Anyone who is in the hospital and has fresh fruits and veggies who normally eats them will be extremely appreciative. Anyone else, like me, who doesn’t normally eat them may just find a few new things they are willing to eat when they go home.

But Don’t Be Nuts About it

As great as I think it would be, that doesn’t mean I would expect all or even most of their food to be home-grown. Many patients are in the hospital for one, two, or possibly three nights. For them, there would be little or no real difference in their health.

Longer-term and repeat patients (those who come back often for treatments) are the ones who would benefit the most. Focus on improving their food. Some might even benefit by working in the greenhouses. Imagine a patient with limited mobility, stuck in their room all day. Now imagine that same patient put into a wheelchair in the greenhouse pulling weeds and enjoying a change of scenery for an hour or perhaps two a day.

That may not sound like fun for everyone, but any change of surroundings can be a huge mood booster for long-term patients and, even more importantly, many people love gardening. Simply knowing they are contributing can be a big morale boost.

What do you think about adding greenhouses to hospitals?

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Survival Skills for All Ages (series)

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