From small farms to hospital kitchens... 'food revolution'

Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2006 10:44 pm
An article about an effort by Kaiser hospitals to use locally grown produce

Quoting part of the article, from the San Francisco Chronicle-

Chez Kaiser's food revolution
Hospital experiment putting locally grown produce on patients' plates

Carol Ness, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, August 6, 2006

A cherry tomato seems hardly the stuff of revolution.

But Tuesday, if everything goes right, patients at 19 hospitals in Northern California will find cherry tomatoes with their chicken sandwiches and dinner salads, and will unwittingly take part in a small but potentially profound shift in institutional food systems.

The ripe red tomatoes are fresh from Hmong farmer Choua Vang's 9-acre plot near Sanger in Fresno County -- and they're the first items to roll onto Kaiser meal trays through a new pilot program that buys produce from small California farms instead of from the large, more industrial farms that typically supply hospitals and other large institutions.

Strawberries grown on Amparo and Aurelia Martinez's 23-acre Santa Rosa Farm in Salinas will sweeten patients' fruit cups on Wednesday. Soon, it will be plums and melons from Paul Buxman's 30-acre Sweet Home Ranch outside the Central Valley town of Dinuba, near Fresno. Later, it will be sweet potato sticks from an African American-run farm nearby.

About 10 farmers, with a focus on ethnic minorities, will send about a half-dozen crops straight to Kaiser's central kitchen over the next six months. Their names won't appear on Kaiser patients' menu cards, a la Chez Panisse -- at least not yet -- but that's in the works if the plan takes off.

The results of Kaiser's experiment will answer a question vital to
the future of sustainable agriculture, and to the livelihood of small farmers in California and across America:

Can an institution the size of Kaiser Permanente adopt the Chez Panisse model of buying locally and from many smaller sustainable farms -- without busting the budget or bogging down its production of 5,000 to 6,000 inpatient meals every day for 19 Northern California hospitals?

If the pilot program works, Kaiser plans to expand it systemwide and also put it into place in its staff and visitor cafeterias.

Other large institutions eager to catch the sustainable wave are watching closely, including Stanford University, UCSF Medical Center and UC Berkeley, as well as food service outfits like Bon Appetit, which feeds Google and other companies.

/end of quote

Sounds great to me. I've read recently that something like 80% of California's farms are less than a hundred acres in size.
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Reply Thu 10 Aug, 2006 11:45 pm
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Reply Fri 11 Aug, 2006 08:12 am
I hope it works. It would be interesting, in that there are seasons for produce, and ... therefore, there would be seasonal variation in menus, if they got all their produce fresh locally..
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