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What about local produce?

August 29, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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During a June alfresco lunch at my sister's, my brother-in-law remarked that local produce was delicious and would be for the entire summer. He asked if the nursing facility ever bought local produce. I told him the facility buys produce from a food supplier to guarantee it has been inspected by the Department of Agriculture. He gave me a puzzled look and wanted to know why. I said the facility has always done it that way.

My sister suggested I write to Michelle Obama to learn how she managed to get the okay to serve fresh produce from the White House garden. I laughed and said that Mrs. Obama is much more of an insider than me.

We seldom have anything fresh from a garden served here. At times family members of residents bring in tomatoes to us. But the dietary manager has told us Dietary is really not supposed to cut up any produce for us that did not come from their food company.

I buy my apples at the grocery store. I like Honey Crisp apples in the fall and Fuji apples in the spring and summer. Dietary purchases red delicious apples from the food company. I guess they are fine. But they are a mealy apple and I think they are only good and slightly crisp when they are really fresh.

I have been craving local cantaloupe, or as it is called around here, musk melon. I have bought some already cut up from the grocery store. Many times I considered bringing four or five melons and some paper plates back with me. Then Activities could cut them up for the residents to enjoy.

This summer dietary has been serving frozen cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Our dietary manager says that fresh melon is outrageously expensive. But I do not think the frozen is a taste sensation. My online research suggested frozen melon is best when served slightly frozen. Unfortunately, we do not get it that way, although it might be good in a smoothie.

Perhaps nursing homes need to cultivate some land around the facility to plant vegetables as well as melons and watermelons. That way we residents would be able to enjoy the seasonal bounty.

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Comments

Kathleen, that is awesome! We buy fresh produce from our local farmers in our town. We also have a greenhouse in the back where our residents grow tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and herbs. We all love being able to enjoy them together! We are an Eden Alternative Certified Home and PROUD OF IT!!! We truly believe in culture change and we see the difference it makes in our home!

You are so right Kathleen! I work at a nursing home in Ontario Canada and we are lucky to be able to share fresh fruits and vegetables with our residents in 2 ways. First we have raised flower beds in which we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and herbs and then share them with the residents whenever they are ready. The other way is that our horticulture therapist sets up a "market" table to sell local peaches, plums, apples, etc as well as fresh flowers 1 day a week. She sells the items very cheap so everyone is able to buy something that they can enjoy without breaking the bank!

I hope that you can encourage a change in your home, for yourself and your fellow residents.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...