Let’s GROW!

I am thrilled and delighted to introduce our first wheelchair accessible garden at Toronto Rehab, Bickle Center! We’re calling it GROW, for Garden Rehab On Wheels. A lot of green thumbs and grey matter went into designing this new venture. See for yourself!

This is the stellar Green Team after our first meeting of the season – our gardening champions are from recreational therapy, speech language therapy, nursing, clinical nutrition, spiritual care, volunteer resources, maintenance, management and administration.

The TR Bickle Green Team received funding from TD Friends of the Environment to Continue reading

The Drugs in my Food’s Food

Resistance FilmLast Thursday, 150+ healthcare professionals and students gathered at Mt Sinai Hospital for the Screening of Resistance, an award-winning documentary on antibiotic resistance as part of the International Antibiotic Awareness Week. ICYMI, here are some highlights of the movie and a panel discussion starring some major players in the field:

  • Dr Andrew Morris, General Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases Physician and Medical Director of the MSH/UHN Antimicrobial Stewardship Program,
  • Elizabeth Leung, Antimicrobial Stewardship Pharmacist at St. Michael’s Hospital and
  • Harry Stoddart, Ontario livestock farmer and author of Real Dirt, An Ex-Industrial Farmer’s Guide to Sustainable Eating

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UHN Gardens Show off their Harvest

Let me start with some local food hot news:

Did you know? Up until now, Ontario chicken farmers had only two options: either buy an average $1.75 million quota (i.e. some sort of license) for the right to produce a minimum of 90,000 birds a year… or buy no quota and produce a maximum of 300 birds a year that they could only sell at their farm gate. No wonder Ontario alternatives to conventionally raised chicken are not available to our hospitals. It’s hardly available to anyone!

Here is the good news: Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) just announced a portfolio of new “flocking options” (600 to 3,000 birds) that will support expanded business opportunities for Ontario small and medium chicken farmers. Next stumbling block…. getting small abattoirs to process the chicken, since Ontario ones have all been closed down.

Yes – as you now know – it takes a lot to serve Ontario food to our patients, unless…

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Book Review: Darwinian Agriculture

jpegSeems like these days, every enviro-minded, hippie-dippie, socially-conscious-consumer has an opinion about organic farming,  farm animal welfare and GMOs. But how much do we really know about this big field that is agricultural science?

Turns out, even the most knowledgeable food scientists might not know it all. I was amazed to find out that many researchers forget to consider Darwin’s theory of evolution in their practice. Wait a minute … genetics is the basis of crop science. How can this be ignored?

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What does it take to serve local food to our patients?

That’s the question we investigated for the past year with the input of nearly 700 members of the UHN community. You shared your expertise in interviews, sent your ideas online, shared your soothing foods on post-it notes, dug into complexity at conversations cafés, responded to surveys, and even gave your feedback on a fantastic Ontario soup made by Chef Geremy Capone at the ELLICSR kitchen. We couldn’t hope for better participation. Thank you!

What we found is that our food system at UHN is complex and well, … serving more local food to our patients is not as simple as tree to tray. So we created a 3-minute animation video to explain how things work:

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“To change the system, get the system in the room”

How do you change a system? Collective Impact teaches us about the power of community conversation to tackle complex social issues.  Indeed, “how much we can accomplish in this world depends on how much we can see”, said John Kania, Collective Impact expert.

What would happen if we helped staff at UHN to get out of their comfortable bubble of expertise and take a closer look at our whole hospital food system? With that goal in mind, I teamed up with a group of UHN staff who are also students at the OISE Food Sovereignty program. We embarked last week on the horizon-broadening project of Conversation Cafés.

conversation café

A team of staff review the UHN Food Ecosystem before our table chat at the Wellness Centre

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Pear-fect Local Treats for the Holidays

In this cold country of ours, is it possible to make a local-food feast for the holidays?

With the growing season a hazy memory, I went on a quest to find good Ontario foods for our Holiday menu. I searched all corners of the land (technically, all corners of the Internet) for some of the best treats. Believe it or not, there is still some great produce available in December: pears, apples, squash, beets, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, lettuce … and lots more goodies for grownups and kids to get cookin’. And with that, I proudly present my ~ * local holidays selection * ~ widely inspired by our friends at the ELLICSR Kitchen.

ELLICSR’s Parsnip and Beet Marble Cake

Parsnip and beet marble cakeThis recipe is just the ticket for an afternoon break after a long walk outside. Picture a roaring fire, spiced tea brewing in the teapot, and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg bringing the family together. I’m sold! Parsnips, beets, apple sauce and eggs can be found local in Ontario.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

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