Indiana Grown, Eskenazi Strike Up Food Connection

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The associate director of culinary services at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis hopes a new partnership with the state's Indiana Grown initiative could nudge more anchor institutions throughout the state to locally source food. Seth Grant says such partnerships could have a real impact on the Indiana economy, environment and health of Hoosiers. Eskenazi Health Chief Executive Officer Lisa Harris will be a guest this weekend on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

The collaboration with Indiana Grown, Grant says, has opened the health system up to food suppliers it previously wouldn't have known. "There's so many different products that are made in Indiana that I had no idea were made here and it's been really amazing for us to be able to bring those products in and serve them to our patients and our visitors," he added.

Eskenazi Health started an effort to source more food locally two years ago. Right now, officials say roughly 40 percent of the system's food comes from within a 200-mile radius, compared to three percent when the focus began. Indiana-based businesses that have connected with Eskenazi Health include Orland-based Miller Poultry; Prairie Farms, which is based in Illinois but partners with 60 Indiana farms; Jasper-based Fischer Farms; and Brickhouse Coffee Co. in Greenwood. Through Indiana Grown, Grant says its new definition of local will be even more narrow than 200 miles and focus on companies only in Indiana.

Grant says locally-sourced foods are important for several reason, including being more nutrient-dense, having a smaller environmental impact because of less transportation and using fewer ingredients by taking a more "scratch" cooking approach.

Last week, Indiana Grown marked its 1,000th member, a milestone Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch said is "a testament to our agricultural strength and diversity." You can connect to more about Indiana Grown by clicking here.

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    • Patten is managing partner of Patten Consulting Group.

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