Conventional agriculture practices are threatening our food supply by degrading soil, polluting air and water, negatively impacting wildlife and fisheries, and leading to chronic health concerns such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Certified organic agriculture reduces our reliance on toxic inputs and works to promote biodiversity and ecological balance. Health care institutions have an important opportunity to protect the health of their patients, employees and visitors, agricultural workers, farming communities and the environment by sourcing and serving organic foods.
Northwest hospitals are currently collaborating to shift their purchasing to regionally produced organics to support community health and grow the Northwest organic sector. We have captured the experiences, key strategies and impacts of these efforts in a Guide and Case Study to support other hospitals and other regions in doing the same. The Guide to Expanding Regional Organic Purchasing outlines the rationale as well as procurement strategies for shifting institutional purchasing to prioritize organics. The Case Study highlights the University of Washington Medical Center’s purchasing policies focused on organics and partnerships they’ve developed to procure regional organics through alternative purchasing pathways.