Food Day a success at Southwest Memorial Hospital

Keywords: Poll question,
Marie Rowel checks out a booth on healthy food at the Southwest Memorial Hospital Food Day. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Marie Rowel checks out a booth on healthy food at the Southwest Memorial Hospital Food Day.

The movement for affordable, sustainable and tasty food, known nationally as Food Day, struck Cortez last Wednesday, Oct. 24. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Southwest Memorial Hospital was the site for a food celebration highlighting healthy food choices, where our food comes from and how to make meals using whole foods.

Marissa Kleinsmith, a dietician with SWMH, was a hostess for the event. She was stationed at a food cart, a moveable cart with burners for demonstrations, creating dishes such as, spaghetti squash, breakfast sausage and braised cabbage with apple. The majority of the foods she cooked with were from local producers, Garden of Weedin’ and East Pines Ranch.

“This is not just about healthy food, but also about making it taste good,” Kleinsmith said. “And educating people about what is in the foods they eat. You would be surprised what foods have the most additives.”

This is the first year the dietician center at the hospital has participated in Food Day. The event was mainly for employees and was held in the cafeteria. However, a few members of the community caught wind and came to contribute their knowledge or learn something new.

Nancy Colbert, a retired Cortez resident, has read, studied and practiced healthy habits for years. She came hoping to learn something she didn’t already know.

“I follow a strict diet,” Colbert said. “I don’t eat sugar, refined or processed foods. I eat lots of greens, fruits and vegetables and I feel great.”

Colbert was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer almost nine years ago. Her doctor was not expecting her to live this long and Colbert is convinced her healthy lifestyle is a contributing factor. Along with eating well, she uses alternative medicinal treatments to keep her body in check. Detoxifying treatments, foot soaks to rid her body of toxins and sound wave treatments for her diagnosis are all things she does routinely. Colbert said that even before she got sick she was interested in healthy living.

Kleinsmith found that most people are turned away by healthy or whole foods because of past experiences that they may carry with them.

“Maybe someone’s mother overcooked broccoli every time she made it so now, they hate broccoli,” she explained. “An adult’s palette changes for new flavors from when they are kids. So it is important for them to retry and play with different foods to provide lasting health.”

The event had three tables set up to show appropriate meal portion sizes and information on sodas, sugars and their bodily effects. There was also an ingredient quiz that listed the ingredients for common food items. Visitors guessed which items were listed and the winner of the quiz received a cookbook. Wade Newman was the winner with almost all six answers correct.

They also had a projector showing informative videos about factory farming and facts about people living on food stamps. At least 10 to 15 hospital employees were present every half an hour due to their lunch times. Kleinsmith was happy to integrate with others in the hospital she wouldn’t normally see on a day-to-day basis.

The dishes made by Kleinsmith were all recipes available to visitors. People were especially surprised to learn that Kleinsmith and her supervisor Wendy Cashman, had made chocolate pudding with avocado. Some could taste it, some could not. “Avocados are very creamy and fat based, so they can hold flavor and still create a nice texture,” Kleinsmith said. “And it is so simple to make. That’s the idea here. That healthy foods do not have to take a long time to cook.” Kleinsmith used simple ingredients found in most pantries and chose ingredients that were the most nutrient dense. She said it’s easy for consumers to buy into the health marketing of low-fat or fat-free foods but even those items contain additives and processed ingredients. It’s easy to eat low fat without giving in to labels. “We hopefully planted the seed for everyone to start thinking about what is in the food they eat and where it comes from,” Kleinsmith said.

Marissa Kleinsmith serves baked squash at the Southwest Memorial Hospital Food Day. She also made breakfast sausage meatballs. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Marissa Kleinsmith serves baked squash at the Southwest Memorial Hospital Food Day. She also made breakfast sausage meatballs.