Culinary Journey to Health

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Monica Deyo has lost 30 pounds since incorporating more seasonal, locally grown produce into her daily diet.

ANN ARBOR – Monica Deyo has always been a self-proclaimed “foodie.” The Ypsilanti native grew up watching her parents manage a catering business built on homemade, from-scratch cooking.

Monica’s culinary prowess is well-known among her family and coworkers. As a full-time grandmother during the week, Monica prepares nutritious and delicious meals for her 1-year-old grandson. On the weekends, she swaps recipes with her coworkers at St. Joe’s central supplies processing and distribution (CSPD) department.

Last year, Monica celebrated a milestone – 35 years with St. Joe’s. It was also the year she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Determined not to let the disease rule her, Monica began to make lifestyle changes right away. She signed up for diabetes classes at St. Joe’s. She also knew she had to eat better. That’s when a coworker, Mary Moss, introduced Monica to St. Joe’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program at The Farm.

img_3322The Farm’s CSA program – offered during the fall/winter, spring and summer seasons – allows St. Joe’s employees to take home a bag of produce for $20 a week. Each week, from October to December, Monica picked up her share – a combination of produce grown at The Farm and other local farms. Some weeks she came home with candy cane beets and bright green Romanesco. Other weeks she received bok choy and Japanese turnips. Almost every week Monica found a vegetable she would have normally overlooked at the grocery store.

Monica began to document her new creations, sharing photos and recipes – and sometimes leftovers – with family and coworkers. Some of her favorite Farm-inspired dishes include citrus salmon with braised Japanese turnips and roasted stuffed spaghetti squash.

Since October, Monica has lost 30 pounds. Her goal is to eventually get off the diabetes medications altogether. The bounty of fresh produce also inspired Monica to revamp the diet of her 93-year-old father. She tested and compiled a full book of healthy recipes for staff at the senior care facility, so they know what kind of meals to prepare for him.
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Monica is now one of the biggest supporters of The Farm’s mission to make fresh, locally-grown produce approachable and accessible. She sent a raving review to Amanda Sweetman, project manager at The Farm:

“The kale is in a pot this morning steaming with a ham bone I had in the freezer. I made the butternut squash last night for dinner. I just rubbed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with rosemary, ginger and cut small pieces of garlic on top. Superb! Today I am preparing for lunch an arugula salad with almonds, mandarin oranges, and topping with Catalina Dressing. Yum!”

“I’ve really enjoyed watching our colleagues try new things and get excited about local produce,” Amanda Sweetman said. “The Farm is really about growing a healthy community. We can’t do that without the help of people like Monica Deyo and Mary Moss,” she added.

While Monica always enjoyed a healthy relationship with food, she says The Farm opened her eyes to the vast array of produce available so nearby. It helped inspire a colorful, healthy lifestyle she wants others to adopt, too.

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The Farm’s CSA program is offered for St. Joe’s staff, but patients and visitors can shop year-round at St. Joe’s weekly Farmers Market every Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Main Lobby. The Farm sells freshly harvested, sustainably grown seasonal produce and fresh herbs.

Visit stjoesannarbor.org/thefarm to learn more about The Farm and visit The Farm blog for the latest news and updates.

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