In an innovative and forward-thinking project on health and healing, Matt Prentice--well-known local restaurateur and chef--has partnered up with the newly-opened Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital to create over 3,000 recipes that are 99% organic to not only provide patients with high-quality foods during their recovery time, but also to provide them with foods that may actually assist in their recovery.
Organic foods retain more vitamins and minerals than those that are mass-produced, and the ingredients Prentice utilizes in such items as his hearty broths are selected because they not only taste good but they provide such benefits as boosting the immune system and fighting cancer. While there are some hospitals that do offer limited organic menus, Henry Ford West Bloomfield looks to be the first of its kind to be fully dedicated to the use of organic ingredients and wholly subscribe to the belief that, well--you are what you eat.
The hospital looks towards opening two greenhouses on its campus in the future, one for learning and the other for production, and currently sources its organic produce from Chef's Garden in Ohio and Earthbound in California. The hospital is also building a relationship with Schoolcraft College's Culinary Arts Program, which plans on a course in healing cuisine in the Fall and is in discussion with the hospital of a joint health care culinary institute, as well as having developed with Ford a series of community education programs called "Culinary Partners in Health."
Prentice himself claims to have learned more about the correlation between diet and health in the last two years than in a lifetime of cooking and studying at culinary institutes. He plans a new patient- and quality-focused approach to hospital cuisine, taking restaurant standards of quality and cleanliness into the hospital kitchen, which has historically been known to focus only on the keeping down food costs. Prentice also contends that, in the longrun, investing in slightly more expensive ingredients will actually save the hospital money by shortened length of visits, and that organic cooking (if done efficiently and portioned properly) is actually less expensive than purchasing prepared foods.
As people become increasingly more interested in holistic approaches to health and healing, the food we eat suddenly becomes more important than ever before. There is a growing realization that sustainable cuisine (which includes organic and locally-produced foods) not only tastes better, but helps your body heal faster and feel better. The days of 50-year-old hausfraus scooping some unidentifiable slop onto your grandmother's hospital food plate or your son's school cafeteria tray (Michigan is also on the forefront of sustainable cuisine in school cafeterias) are fast disappearing, and are being replaced with bonafide chefs who have trained at real culinary institutes and have made a committment to quality food made with quality ingredients with the health and wellness of the patient or student in mind. Thank the Food Network or the nation's faddish fascination with all things going green...whatever it is, it's about damn time.
Remember: you are what you eat.