In the News

Supporting Regenerative Beef for a More Healthy, Equitable Food System

Michael Dimock, program director of PHI’s Roots of Change and Santana Diaz, advisor to Roots of Change and executive chef at the University of California Davis Medical Center, discuss how a network of 10 campuses and five medical centers are supporting regenerative farming to mitigate the effects of climate change and drive a healthier, more equitable food system.

  • Civil Eats

“It’s no wonder that hospital food gets a bad rap, says Santana Diaz, executive chef at the University of California Davis Medical Center, a sprawling, 142-acre campus located in Sacramento, California. As a seeming compromise between nutrition and institutional efficiency, food has long been dished up as an afterthought to patient care. “That was never the focus of hospitals,” he adds.

But for Diaz, good food is key to good health. Since taking the helm of the facility’s nutrition and dining services in 2018, he has worked to revamp the cuisine, including sourcing almost half of ingredients from farms and ranches within a 250-mile radius of the Sacramento Valley. Food grown in local fields, orchards, and pastures with healthy soil management practices simply make for healthier, more nutritious, and more flavorful meals, he says—the perfect ingredients for changing the “stigma” associated with hospital fare.

Diaz is not alone in making this shift, but he may be ahead of the game. In 2022, the University of California (U.C.) system—a network of 10 campuses and five medical centers—committed to supporting regenerative farming as part of U.C. President Michael Drake’s vision to mitigate the effects of climate change and drive a more equitable food system. And as an advisor to an initiative lead by the nonprofit organization Roots of Change, Diaz is helping to steer the larger institution toward local agriculture—through the system-wide procurement of regeneratively ranched beef.

The term, a general reference to pasture management that prioritizes soil health and perennial plants by grazing livestock through rotated paddocks, encompasses a set of practices that advocates say results in healthier animals and pastures. Research also shows that beef from cattle raised strictly on grass is more nutritious than conventional beef, although it’s not yet clear how regenerative practices may impact those findings.”

headshot of Michael Dimock
Not all pasture-based ranchers have adopted paddock-based regenerative practices, but the number appears to be growing. That’s in part because the holistic principles of regenerative ranching go hand in hand with land stewardship and animal welfare. Michael Dimock

Program director of PHI’s Roots of Change

Click on the link below to read the full article.

Originally published by Civil Eats

More Updates

Work With Us

You change the world. We do the rest. Explore fiscal sponsorship at PHI.

Bring Your Work to PHI

Support Us

Together, we can accelerate our response to public health’s most critical issues.


Find Employment

Begin your career at the Public Health Institute.

See Jobs

Mural and kids' paintings hanging on a fence at a playground


New Public Health Primer: Engaging Community Development for Health Equity

How can the public health and community development sectors to work together to advance health and racial equity? A new primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and partners provides a roadmap for forging upstream partnerships, with recommendations, strategies and lessons-learned from national, state and local leaders.

Explore the primer

Continue to