My parents always wanted me to go to med school. This month I did exactly that.

I spoke to a Nutrition Club at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) about the farm to health care movement. We discussed how diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and cancer are affected by the Western diet and where the medical field is taking nutrition in the future.

We chatted about general nutrition and how processed food has affected the healthcare system. As medical students, they had a firm understanding of the science and medical technology involved but what I could offer is a taste of the latest information about cooking techniques, menu design, ingredient sourcing and farming production.

Our doctors and healthcare professionals can have a huge impact on what we eat in this country. If doctors can learn how to cook for themselves and eat healthy as early as their college days it can carry over into their practices and they can become leaders in the healthy eating movement. Tulane University in Louisiana has a culinary medicine program that would be a great fit for our campus at PCOM.

Pcom

Pcom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several partnerships have formed from this original meeting. One student who is very interested in GMOs, organic gardening and the chemistry behind food production expressed his interest in us partnering on projects such as a school garden, a GMO educational program, and raising awareness about organic food production.

Another student approached me about running a program in the café called Meatless Mondays. The Meatless Monday program has been around in America for a while. I have come across a lot of information about this program and I look forward to bringing it to PCOM. We will feature all vegetarian specials, which is not a problem for my production staff because we already serve varied vegetarian and vegan dishes frequently. As often as possible we will run educational programs in the café on Meatless Mondays. We will promote health, nutrition and environmental sustainability.

A student also approached me about a group she’s involved in that is working with the Reading, Pa. school district to bring healthier food to the students there. I will be working on this project with her. There are many ways to bring healthier food to public school districts; USDA grants are a good place to start. Reading is my hometown so I feel personally connected in some ways to this project.

The students that attended the lunchtime session left with some good information about healthy eating, nutrition and how the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is taking its next step towards environmental sustainability and a cutting edge farm to health care training program.

I came away felling optimistic that the next generation of doctors will be better informed and better prepared to deal with the challenges we face regarding chronic disease and the western diet.

 

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