Medical Center ranked alongside pair of top Sacramento restaurants

UC Davis Health named to nation's "Good Food 100 Restaurants" list


It’s not every day that hospital food gets ranked with a pair of top Sacramento restaurants.

Delicious, eye-catching and sustainable foods are now among the meal choices at UC Davis Health.
Delicious, eye-catching and sustainable foods are now among the meal choices at UC Davis Health.

Actually, it’s hard to imagine that it has ever happened – anywhere.

But this month, UC Davis Health joined the highly regarded Mulvaney’s and Magpie restaurants on the national “Good Food 100 Restaurants” list for 2019.

UC Davis is the only health system in the nation on the list.

The annual listing is designed to illuminate the business and purchasing practices of chefs and restaurants, as well as their commitment to delicious, healthful foods and sustainable sourcing.

"We're thrilled to recognize UC Davis Health as the first health system in the nation to participate in the Good Food 100 Restaurants,” said Sara Brito, co-founder and president of the non-profit Good Food Media Network. “Good food is about much more than fine dining. If we're going to be successful in changing the food system for good, we need large scale, multi-unit operations with significant purchasing power to help lead the way and demonstrate that good food is possible in all types, sizes, and price points of restaurants and food service businesses.

For the health system’s executive chef, Santana Diaz, the recognition underscores UC Davis Health’s focus on providing high-quality meals, with ingredients that are locally sourced and guided by sustainable practices – and all with an emphasis on reducing waste.

“We like to say that ‘good food is good medicine’ because what we serve is part of the healing process,” said Diaz. “Not only do we have phenomenal physicians, nurses and clinical care teams, but we also have a healthy, whole foods program, too. The ingredients, the meals, all of it is responsibly sourced and often from local farmers and ranchers in our region. Plus, it tastes great as well.”

Last year, for example, UC Davis Medical Center earned designation in the James Beard Foundation’s SmartCatch Program. The food transparency initiative informs consumers that the hospital’s fish dishes meet specific standards for environmentally appropriate and sustainable practices.

Menu items such as fish entrees highlight the health system’s sustainability efforts in sourcing. Sustainable products also mean support for local suppliers such as the Sloughhouse-based Passmore Ranch, where the medical center kitchen sources its trout. The hospital’s purchasing dollars stay within the local economy, which also represents an important link in the food supply chain.

In compiling the Good Food 100 list, the Good Food Media Network evaluates restaurants on more than just taste. It considers every link in the supply chain when it assesses an applicant for the national listing. The criteria include the environment; plants and animals; farmers, ranchers and fishermen; purveyors; restaurants; and diners.

Restaurant applicants must meet minimum threshold guidelines for self-reporting good food purchases for each of the six (6) food categories below:

  • Bread, Flour, Legumes, and Grains: Produced using Certified Organic and/or sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Dairy and Eggs: Raised without the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones, no cages or confinement;
  • Fish and Seafood: Wild and sustainably farmed fish and seafood. This includes fish & seafood on Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch's 'Green' and 'Yellow' lists;
  • Meat and Poultry: Raised without the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones, no cages or confinement;
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Certified Organic and/or sustainable agricultural practices;
  • All Other (e.g., oils, condiments, spices, etc.): Produced using Certified Organic and/or sustainable agricultural practices.

Everyone knows good food is essential to good health,” Brito added. “It just makes sense that food service operations like UC Davis Health are essential to fixing our broken and sick food system."

Sky Bacom-Slavin, patient services manager for UC Davis Health Food and Nutrition Services, who helps ensure nutrition quality for thousands of meals each day, echoed the emphasis on the importance of being a healthy agent for change.

“Hospital food traditions used to mean we simply opened a can, poured from a box, or just added water to a pre-packaged mix,” said Bacom-Slavin. “It was efficient and met basic nutrient requirements, but not necessarily the best taste and quality for the people eating it. Now, like great restaurants, we’re really working hard to provide real, whole and good-tasting foods that are healthy and nourishing. And we know they have the power to heal, too!”