Often it may seem that hospital food conflicts with what we know about health. Patients should be leaving the hospital in a healthier state than when they arrived. Although an attempt is made to match diet with a patient’s needs, there always seems to be room for improvement. For instance, if a patient is admitted for a heart problem, he or she will likely be given a salt substitute even though the rest of the meal is already laden with salt.
This problem occurs partially because processed foods are cheaper for hospitals. It is more cost-effective to follow the culture of industrial farming and the corporate model of quantity over quality. However, studies have shown this model to be seriously lacking, as world hunger is still a problem, and the environmental impact of industrial agriculture is becoming more serious by the day.
What if there was a way to improve the quality of food in healthcare facilities? Hospitals have already reduced the time it takes to see a doctor in the ER to less than 20 minutes. They have also increased the hospitality given to patients, such as new mothers being treated to the most comfortable labor and delivery settings. Why not also improve the quality of food served?
There is hope. Hospitals across the country are changing the way they feed their patients. The farm to table movement is catching on in the healthcare industry. Studies show that supporting local small farms is not only cost effective but it also has a positive impact on the local economy. While it will take some time for the entire country to follow this model, the move toward healthier diets in hospitals is taking hold.
The next time you or a loved one are in the hospital, ask your healthcare worker about healthy diet options. As with any consumer product, where there is a demand, the supply will always follow.