Pew Charitable Trust and Overlake Hospital Visit — Together We Find It’s a Small World

Pew Charitable Trust and Overlake Hospital Visit — Together We Find It’s a Small World

  • posted on: July 30, 2013
  • posted by: 21 Acres
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I’m regularly reminded that it’s a small world out there, especially when I’m thinking about the people and organizations working to build strong local food economies across the country and structuring public health policies to support those systems.  Yesterday, at 21 Acres, Jane Mc Clure (our events manager) and I were fortunate to host Christopher Linaman, Executive Chef from Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, and Laura Rogers, Director, Human Health and Industrial Farming, and one of her colleagues from Pew Charitable Trusts as well as a pediatrician who advocates with Pew on public health policy initiatives (the three of them were visiting from Washington DC) and they were very interested to learn more about 21 Acres and our new Food Hub venture.

As the head of Overlake’s food service program, Chris purchases consistently each week from the 21 Acres Hub for the hospital and makes it a regular priority to source local food produced in a sustainable manner.  The Pew Charitable Trust is working on policy and education initiatives to address the rising prevalence of MRSA cases in hospitals and educates and supports chefs to prioritize buying sustainable products, particularly antibiotic-free meats.  As you may know, finally the public and health practioners are questioning the use of antibiotics in livestock for myriad reasons, most notable is the fact that it seems to be leading to antibiotic resistance in treating infectious disease in humans. 

We were all brought together at 21 Acres because the Pew Trust respects the methods that Chris uses to source product for all of Overlake’s food service (including ordering from the Food Hub) and particularly his mission to buy only antibiotic-free meat.  It turns out that during our walk and talk of the 21 Acres building and farm, our guests and I know many of the same people in food systems policy and production, two of whom are studying the MRSA epidemic. When I worked for UNC Chapel Hill, I was the project manager for the Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Research Project at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  More info here: http://gillingsproject.wordpress.com/about/. The Gillings Project provided funding for then doctoral student Chris Heaney (now a professor at Johns Hopkins University) and UNC associate professor Steve Wing in epidemiology (A link to Steve’s TED Talk re Confined Animal Farming Operations (CAFOs) is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZW8-LQftnY) to gather data on the prevalence of MRSA in workers on sustainable hog farms. I recruited graduate students to help Chris take nasal swabs from workers at sustainable hog farms and helped find budget money to cover the costs associated with that field work. The research has just recently been published http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2013/heaney-mrsa-farms.htmland a new piece is coming out soon.  Laura knows Chris and Steve as well as quite a few other folks that I know including James Beard award winning Chef Andrea Reusing, who provided restaurant meeting space for our team work in North Carolina.

The timing of the visit yesterday was also fortuitous to discuss the Food Hub and our efforts to connect local farmers with local chefs because Laura, on behalf of the Pew Trust, was hosting a farm-to-table lunch salon with Chef Maria Hines from Tilth Restaurant in Seattle.  Roughly a dozen chefs and a dozen leaders in the region working on food procurement, sustainable meat production, and local policies would be attending the lunch and hearing from Chris and his work to source sustainably produced products including meat free from antibiotics.  Both Chris and Laura said they looked forward to telling all the guests at the luncheon about the Hub and our work at 21 Acres, which, of course, made me quite happy.  Lastly, I was pleased to see an email from Laura after the visit; here is what she said, “Thank you so much to you both!! We really loved meeting u and learning about your amazing farm and center. Wow. You really are inspiring.” I love this small world.

— Robin

 

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