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In 2010, the hospital signed a “healthy food” pledge as part of its involvement in the 490-hospital Healthier Hospitals Initiative. The pledge calls for the hospital to use locally grown food when possible and support sustainable agriculture.

“We’ll use the honey in salad dressing, on tart fruit, to finish sauces, including our barbeque sauce,” says Valley’s executive chef, John Graziano. “I’ve tasted honey from the Northeast that is light and refreshing. It depends on the area and what’s growing near the colony that will determine the final flavor influences. Right now we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Graziano says everything from wild honeysuckle growing near the pavilion to lavender grown in residential gardens could affect the flavor. The bees can fly up to two miles in all directions from the colony each day foraging for nectar and pollen from plants.

The initiative is also a small step to respond to a steep decline in the nation’s honeybee population, which began in 2006 and has a direct impact on agricultural production, since honeybees play a crucial role in pollinating many cultivated plants.

A federal Department of Agriculture report released earlier this month concluded that honeybee colony collapse disorder has been caused by multiple factors, including poor genetics, diseases and parasites.

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