September 6, 2017

Executive Chef Spearheads Initiative to Reduce Environmental Impact, Improve Health

September 6, 2017

There are multiple reasons why serving less meat is beneficial to a health care system, with many of them pointed out in an article in Greenhealth’s summer 2017 issue that featured an interview (p. 22) with Cooley Dickinson’s Executive Chef Gary Weiss.


Executive Chef Gary Weiss
Executive Chef Gary Weiss showcases his signature blended beef burger.

Weiss and the CDH food services staff, along with more than 40 other health care facilities, recently participated in a survey by Healthcare Without Harm on who was serving “blended burgers,” a typically beef/mushroom hybrid product designed to reduce the use of meat in hospitals and other large-scale facilities.

Weiss describes the worthy if stealthy goal of creating meat dishes that incorporate 40% non-meat ingredients (typically mushrooms for a beef-blend substitute) that taste just as good if not better than the 100% meat versions, and add extra perks like fiber and B vitamins, less fat and less sodium.

The cost savings of using less meat can add up quickly as well, and even actually allow for funds to be funneled to better-quality, locally-sourced meat to make up the remaining 60% of those burgers. Last but not least, reducing meat use on something like a hospital scale does a big favor for the earth and everyone living on it.

From the article:
Reducing the amount of meat served is one of the most powerful measures that food service departments can take to reduce climate impact. Substituting one burger with a blended burger every week for a year saves 17,000 gallons of water and 138 pounds of methane, an impact equal to driving 3,750 miles.

Delivering Healthier Health Care  
Weiss believes all of these positive impacts are not only well worth aspiring to but eminently achievable, and that targeting them as goals is right in line with Cooley Dickinson’s values for delivering healthier health care and acting like responsible citizens of the community and of the planet. And it’s not at the expense of taste, either.

“Anytime we can help people, help their health, and help the environment, we’re working with the Cooley values,” Weiss said. “We try to exemplify those values, try to be a leader, to help show people how they can do it and still get the feeling of eating a burger-not be missing something.”