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Local, Farm-Fresh -- and Hospital-Approved

By Mackenzie
Published On: Jun 21 2012 02:10:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 23 2010 09:01:25 AM CDT
TERREBONNE, Ore. -

Being laid up in a hospital for any reason is no fun.

But even if you don't enjoy it -- your taste buds might.

St. Charles Medical Centers in Redmond and Bend are taking part in a growing international effort to make hospital food more healthy, fresh and local.

Hospital chefs say they can't get enough of one local woman's produce.

"Her tomatoes were the best I've had in a couple years," St. Charles Executive Chef David Tankersley said Thursday. "They were sweet, full of acid, full of sugar, had a nice balance and were full of juice."

Sarahlee Lawrence of Terrebonne said her organic produce is also full of something else.

"They're full of nutrients, and they're full of love," Lawrence said. "They're amazing vegetables for people. They're totally healing, I believe."

St. Charles Director of Hospitality Mark Petersen thinks produce from Rainshadow Organics even has the ability to help speed up the healing process for patients.

During recovery from surgery or illness, it's important for people to eat as much as possible.

"The more flavorful food is, the more likely they are to eat it," Petersen said.

The short distance from farm to table -- or in this case, hospital -- means produce stays in the soil until it's perfectly ripened.

Buying local also helps the hospital "go green."

"It reduces the carbon footprint," Petersen said. "It reduces the emissions that are involved in the transportation of the produce from Portland and other areas."

Right now, Lawrence's produce grows in a 2-acre plot near Terrebonne, but by next summer, her farm will grow to 25 acres in a nearby wheat field.

Lawrence said her farm's rapid growth is a dream come true.

But really, it's all been about timing.

"People are ready to eat organic, ready to eat local," Lawrence said. "They're ready to work with farmers and know their farmer -- that's amazing."

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