UPMC Joins Program to Sell Fresh, Local Produce

By: Martin Kinnnunen

When it comes to produce, local is fresher, healthier, tastier, cheaper, and better for the environment.

As the growing season heats up, UPMC and its produce vendor, Paragon Foods, have partnered to introduce Greener Fields Together at multiple UPMC cafeterias to sell boxes of freshly harvested produce.

Greener Fields Together will debut on June 27 at four UPMC cafeterias — Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, UPMC Montefiore, UPMC Presbyterian, and UPMC Shadyside.

452591071For approximately $12, UPMC employees and visitors will be able to buy 10 to 15 pounds of fresh local produce that has been harvested, in many cases, the previous day. The produce will be placed in a box with handles, making it easy to carry home.

Based on discussions with local farmers, each box for the June 27 sale will contain eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, cluster vine ripe tomatoes, green bell peppers and cucumbers. “It’s still early in the growing season. Hopefully, we will add a few more items to make the box even more enticing,” said Tim Sweitzer, director, Retail Food Service, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.

On July 18, the program will be expanded to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the MyHealth Café in the U.S. Steel Tower, UPMC East, and UPMC Passavant-McCandless. Sweitzer said biweekly produce sales will then be held on payday Fridays for the remainder of the summer and continuing into the fall.

Greener Fields Together is a program that’s good for the planet. For instance, it takes less fuel to buy produce from local farms and truck it to the Paragon warehouse in Lawrenceville.

It’s also a program that’s good for people. Greener Fields Together, based in Monterey, Calif., engages farmers, distributors, and others in the produce purveyor chain to work toward supplying consumers with safer produce — from seed to fork.

All participating farmers must demonstrate their adherence to good agricultural practices (GAPs) and apply food safety controls to their operations that are based on accepted industry standards. To that end, farmers are provided with educational tools to promote the adoption of such practices and prepare them to pass a required annual GAP audit.

For more information and to preorder produce, send an email to UPMCFreshProduce@upmc.edu.