“The more we can teach people to eat better and take better care of themselves, they’ll take better care of the world around them.”
Jonathan P. believes in the power that food has on people’s health – and their lives.
As the executive chef and production manager at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, he has a role in bringing nutrition to patients. Part of that includes using vegetables and herbs grown in UPMC Magee’s healing garden as ingredients in patient meals.
“Your mind would be blown on what you can grow in southwestern Pennsylvania in two courtyards in a hospital,” he says. “It’s really incredible. I think the importance of this is showing people that, yes, food grows here, and food that’s grown here tastes incredible.”
Although he uses produce from the garden in recipes, the garden also works strongly as an educational tool. It shows patients the value of using locally grown, in-season products in their cooking outside of the hospital. The UPMC Magee staff uses the ingredients in cooking demonstrations for patients, especially those with specific nutritional needs.
“The biggest way to get people to eat more fresh, nutritious foods is to tell them why it’s exciting and why it tastes so much better,” Jonathan says.
The value of the healing garden goes beyond people’s diets, Jonathan says. Patients, caretakers, and employees often go there as a place to rest and relax.
“I think that’s really an awesome thing for care because we need to care for people in every way, not just clinically,” he says.
Jonathan is helping to expand the garden’s impact beyond the UPMC Magee walls. He and others are taking produce grown in the hospital garden out into the community at farmers markets and related events.
“We need to be thinking of our communities as this whole ecosystem,” Jonathan says. “I think the more we can teach people to eat better and take better care of themselves, they’ll take better care of the world around them. That’s really what I believe in and what I’m trying to work really hard toward.”
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