Is farm-to-table healthy for senior citizens? The farm-to-table trend is still somewhat new to many senior living companies. However, “Seniors today are more interested and more educated regarding proper nutrition, and want more information about the quality of their food,” explains Diane Szalai, Culinary Services Director at Laureate Group Senior Communities.
Farm-to-table means chefs or cooks establish relationships with farms and buy directly from them, without going through a store, market, or distributor along the way. However, is farm-to-table the best approach for all senior living communities?
“Food safety is of utmost importance in a senior living facility,” notes Szalai. “Our seniors are at the age where their immune systems are not as strong as they used to be. That is why farm-to-table may not be the best choice for certain senior facilities.”
There are questions to consider when looking into the farm-to-table approach:
Where were the foods grown?
What chemicals were used in the process?
How often were the foods washed and rewashed?
At what temperatures were the meats stored?
Proper nutrition is a key component of good health, especially for older adults. That is why it is important for senior living facilities to purchase food products from established, inspected local food vendors.
At Laureate Group Senior Communities in Southeastern Wisconsin, we work closely with a variety of local providers to source the highest quality and freshest fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and seafood. “Laureate Group chefs and cooks ensure our vendors are using the latest government standards as far as sourcing, transportation and storage, “Szalai explains.
Why Laureate Group doesn’t use farm-to-table approach
Each of 8 communities throughout southeastern Wisconsin have onsite chefs and cooks to monitor how the food is stored and cared for. Cooking from scratch does not mean sacrifice when maintaining a well-balanced diet. The rise in organic farming in the U.S. coincides with Americans’ growing appetite for organic food over the past few decades. Our 8 communities focus on scratch cooking to control sodium intake.
We start with good quality ingredients: lean meats and poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables, and canola and olive (the “good” oils). All our desserts and dinner rolls are freshly baked on-site, and our sandwiches use meat roasted in-house.
Laureate Group communities offer a variety of whole grain side dishes that include brown or wild rice for some meals, quinoa or wheat berry in salads and we also add barley or other grains to soups and stews.