You might be able to feel a little bit better about dropping your grandparents (or parents) (or selves) off at a retirement home someday, because the infamously bad cafeteria food is getting a little less … squishy.
NPR reports that some retirement communities are starting to use ingredients that are locally sourced and haven’t lived in an industrial freezer for the past six months. One company using this approach, Unidine, operates with a “fresh food pledge” — meaning the food is prepared from scratch with trans-fat-free ingredients, vegetarian options, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, and fresh, seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables (however it states on the pledge that they reserve the right to use some frozen vegetables when local options are limited).
Here’s more on how Unidine approaches food service:
Unidine serves the whole spectrum of facilities for older adults: both independent and assisted living, as well as nursing homes. So its chefs come up with recipes to make sure that each resident gets proper nutrition, no matter what their challenges are.
In a test kitchen in Unidine’s Boston headquarters, chef Spencer Mundy throws fruit, yoghurt, custard-y tofu and coconut milk into a blender. He’s demonstrating how to sneak a lot of extra protein and calories into a smoothie for people who have difficulty keeping their weight up.
… Mundy and Unidine dietician Jenny Overly have also come up with recipes designed for people with dementia or Parkinson’s Disease.
“Anyone that’s having issues using utensils” can benefit, says Overly. “We still want them to enjoy eating … and not have to be fed by someone else” in order to maintain dignity and independence.
Supporting local farmers and serving tasty, thoughtful food to residents? Sorry, Grist, but this intern is set to retire.
The youths and the olds can agree on this: Eating fresh, local, healthy ingredients beats frozen mush-meat and chemical-colored green beans any day — no matter what your age.