WHERE'S THE MEAT?

In a wonderful headline ":Your Doctor, the Meal Planner," the Wall Street Journal publicizes a trend wherein hospitals are opening food pantries and sending patients home with fresh veggies.  Some hospitals are even growing the food on their lawns.

 This is a fabulous development and I applaud every effort to heighten nutrition.  Buried in the story, however, is a red flag.  "Two major food companies, U.S. Foods and Baldor, donate surplus produce and canned food."  The food bank sends over food too.  Oh boy, here we go again.

 You do realize, I suppose, that these companies can deduct their donations as charitable giving and take it right off their tax bottom line.  It ain't all altruistic.  And of what quality is this "surplus?"  That word is code for "salvage."  In other words, this is wilted, blemished, crashed, dented, sell-by expired food.

 And beyond that, I notice that nothing--nothing--is said about meat and poultry.  I get it; we love to applaud and celebrate even a tiny step forward.  But remember, any movement creates inertia to continue the same path.  In other words, someone like me trying to nudge in there finds it harder when "it's already being taken care of, thank you very much."

 And since when have doctors and hospitals been the nutrition experts?  Medical training includes about 3 hours of nutrition classes.  The notion that U.S. Foods, which handles industrial factory chemicalized food, and their buddies the food banks are going to get discharged patients into nutrient dense food is comedic.  Forgive me for pessimism; I've seen this over and over and over and over.  The way to bet is that over the next couple of years, most of these efforts will slip into an industrial-food salvage provision and whatever gardens got started will fall into disrepair.

 Some half-hearted effort gets big press for being earth-shattering when it's actually a feel-good deal for corporate tax evasion.  Meanwhile, the folks who suddenly got canned green beans in their grocery bag from the hospital are given a feel-good notion that they've now entered food security and health.  Why start sprouting mung beans on your windowsill?  Why get two chickens for the apartment to eat scraps and lay great eggs?  Why put a hanging herb garden on the balcony?  Why do anything else when you've been told you've reached the pinnacle of nutrition?--a bag of leftovers from U.S. Foods.

 And let's not even discuss meat and poultry.  They're too hard.  I'd be glad to supply our local hospital, but they aren't interested.  Am I being too pessimistic?