Livewell Montezuma has kicked off yet another program aimed at healthy eating while using local goods.
Kim Lindgren, community food coordinator for Livewell Montezuma, said the program called Eat Local Eat Healthy is aimed at restaurants having food items on their menus that fit and then pass the muster of being healthy.
So far, nine restaurants have gone through the process and signed contracts to be a part of this program and another two are close to finishing the process to be included.
Lindgren said all the restaurants need is one dish that meets the criteria, which includes the item being analyzed by Southwest Memorial Hospital nutritionists.
Each dish must include at least one local ingredient from a local source within 100 miles, one serving of vegetables, one serving of meat, beans, whole grain and/or dairy products, 800-calories maximum, 1,350 or less milligrams of sodium, no modified fat and no use of peanut oil.
Lindgren said the Montezuma County program is following the Durango model of Healthy Lifestyle La Plata.
She heard about the Durango program and determined it was a good program that would work well in Montezuma County.
But it was not an easy process and took around three months to get everything in place.
Lindgren contacted numerous restaurants, and said there could be more than eight who want to have healthy meal options for residents visiting their establishments. Some restaurants, she said, are adjusting their menus to have a healthy food option.
Just as important is the requirement that at least one product needs to have been produced locally which she thinks will benefit social and economic health.
Lindgren hopes this program will encourage residents to make changes in their diets and to let them know there are healthy alternatives.
There are enjoyable dishes that people are already ordering, she said, stressing that healthy dishes can be delicious too.
She said the most difficult part was getting restaurants to send their menu items to the hospitals nutrition department and then waiting for the results once the menu item had been submitted to be analyzed.
All the restaurants taking part in the program will receive a Eat Healthy Eat Local decal that they can post on their windows.
She realizes there will be times during the winter months where certain crops will be more difficult to produce because of the cold weather, so both producers and restaurants need to be aware of this.
One example is that for restaurants using locally produced tomatoes right now, is they would have to go elsewhere in the winter to get the same fruit.
However, Lindgren said greens, dry beans, lettuce, winter squash, sprouts and meats along with potatoes will be available for use during the winter.
To make the program successful, producers and restaurants need to work together to assure each other that the supply meets the demand and vice versa.
The contract, which would be signed by Lindgren and the restaurant owner, is designed to keep integrity in the program and to have it agreed to in writing to help this process.
Currently, the restaurants taking part in the program are The Farm, Once Upon a Sandwich, Pepperhead, Let it Grow, Wild Coffee, Dolores River Brewery, Olio, Karlas Kitchen in Dolores and Pippos with Neros and Amuz in Mancos expected to be Eat Local Eat Healthy approved in August.
For more information, contact Lindgren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Michael Maresh at email@example.com