In addition to targeting foodservice operators at hospitals and health care facilities, the AMA aims for its message to support practices and policies at medical schools, an effort the groups says will inform a new generation of doctors.
The report calls local produce “usually the most sustainable, being generally less resource intensive and less vulnerable to contamination, while providing fresher and less processed food and fostering healthier relationships between farmers and consumers.”
The report notes, however, that eating conventional fruits and vegetables instead of animal products still improves the sustainability of the food system.
AMA defines a sustainable food system as one that promotes ecology, social values, health and economic vitality. The AMA said that healthy diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables limit the depletion of “nonrenewable resources; air, water, and soil pollution; the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria; and the risk of food contamination.”
When it comes to patients’ health, Gilmer said whether a health care foodservice operator sources local, organic or conventional produce is not the most important aspect.
“Going local is commendable, but health care facilities need to be sure to source a wide variety of fruits and vegetables,” Gilmer said. “A health care provider shouldn’t deny a patient fruits and vegetables that don’t happen to be available locally.”