Health Care Without Harm is a coalition of over 450 organizations in 50 countries working to transform the health care environment so it is no longer a source of pollution. Major areas of work include elimination of mercury, PVCs (commonly known as vinyl), and other chemicals in the environment; proper management of medical waste; and construction of "green" health care facilities. More recently the organization has partnered with health care to focus on healthy food in the hospital environment.
Because Kaiser Permanente has taken the lead in reducing the use of toxic substances in our hospitals and promoting healthy food choices, our program takes an active role in sharing what we've learned with other health care systems. Recently in Boston about 150 people gathered at the second FoodMed conference to examine all parts of the food chain and supply systems for hospitals. Many different health care systems were represented. There's a long way to go before a tipping point is reached. In a survey of over 200 institutions, 40 percent of the hospitals that responded still have fast food restaurants in the lobby. Availability drives food choices. A study by a young doctor from Boston showed, simply, that if McDonald's or Krispy Kreme is close by in the lobby, people will eat there.
At more than 38 Kaiser Permanente facilities nationwide, you have alternative choices. Fresh peaches are here and bell peppers aren't far behind.
I attended the conference to talk to other health care systems about what they could do at their hospitals and haven't had access to a kitchen or a farmers' market this week. This week's recipe is the first one in four years I haven't tried first, but I did eat it at a West Berkeley restaurant. It is so basic and wonderful that I am absolutely confident it will be great without even trying it first at home.
- (the amounts below are a guess based on limited experience and the looks of the salad at the restaurant--you can modify this however you think best)
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 2 cups arugula, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, slivered
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, mashed with
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- More salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Toss the veggies together in a bowl. Whisk the garlic into the lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Adjust the seasoning. Toss the veggies with dressing. Top each serving with crumbled feta