Well! Welcome to a new school year! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks (again). I’ve been through two dietetic rotations and am on my third (more on these in a bit) and I passed my oral preliminary exams for my Ph.D. so I am now a full-fledged Ph.D. candidate!! I suppose if anyone had told me how stressful it would be to prepare for the oral exams and do the dietetic internship full-time, I might have re-considered a few things. But, it’s behind me and I’m glad to move into a new phase of research and internship.
First, a little about the internships. My first dietetic rotation was at the Veterans Affairs hospital in food service. I spent 4 weeks learning about ordering, receiving, cooking, serving, and other intricacies involved in serving a hospital population. One of the projects at the rotation was to design and implement a special meal, and alter it for those with special diets (such as diabetics, or patients with an inability to chew foods). I spent a lot of time in the kitchen working on the tray assembly line and getting to know how the kitchen functions. I’ve never been in a food service position so this was really interesting to me. The kitchen workers were friendly and I really enjoyed getting to know them and their stories. This rotation gave me a pretty good look at how food service operates within a government-funded hospital and I’m looking forward to hearing from my fellow interns about their food-service rotations at the Dexter public schools. I imagine the two are somewhat different.
My second rotation was at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital on their farm (or, “The Farm” as they call it). I’m not sure I can emphasize this next point enough: gardening is not farming. Not at all. Not. At. All. You see, I have a garden. While it isn’t huge, it isn’t anything to sneeze at either. So, when I saw that I had a rotation on The Farm I was pretty excited to be able to work with my hands and be outside. I had quaint images of harvesting a basketful of tomatoes and picking a bucket or two of peppers. I had not imagined the intense, never-ending work that awaited me. Yes, I picked tomatoes. No, it wasn’t a basketful. A daily harvest of tomatoes could yield more than 20 pounds in just cherry tomatoes. My arm hairs turned green and sticky from the tomato vine residue and my knees got a work-out from kneeling to standing, back to kneeling to get all those ripe tomatoes. Then, there was watering and weeding. And, more watering and weeding. The Farm has a market day on Wednesday in the main lobby of the hospital (from 11am-1:30pm!) and so on Tuesday we would begin the harvesting and cleaning process and it would be a rush to get everything ready in time. Those were my favorite days on The Farm.
I think it is really great that a hospital system wants to implement a farm and promote the notion of food as a healing substance. I realize that there are a lot of issues that stand in the way of every hospital system having a farm of its own, or even being able to utilize the produce from the farm in the hospital meals, but I think every little step counts.
In other news, the last Food for Thought seminar is tomorrow! Eric Rimm will be speaking about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Tuesday (that’s tomorrow!) at noon at the Mott Hospital auditorium. A few of the dietetic interns have put together a presentation featuring culinary ephemera from the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the William Clements Library and it is not to be missed!