Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prescribing veggies

Doctors are now prescribing fruits and veggies at local farmers’ markets. Check out this article in the NY Times last week if you haven't seen it yet.
Doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts have begun advising patients to eat “prescription produce” from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. Now they will give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals.
Farmers’ markets can be a “hub of preventive health.”
“Can we help people in low-income areas, who shop in the center of supermarkets for low-cost empty-calorie food, to shop at farmers’ markets by making fruit and vegetables more affordable?” said Gus Schumacher, the chairman of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit group in Bridgeport, Conn., that supports family farmers and community access to locally grown produce.
If the pilot project is successful, Mr. Schumacher said, “farmers’ markets would become like a fruit and vegetable pharmacy for at-risk families.”
The key will be to make it easy for people by bringing farmers' markets into hospital cafeterias, doctors' offices, schools, and churches. Speaking of which, I was so happy to walk into our hospital cafeteria the other day and see this: A table dedicated to produce from local farms!

Perhaps one day doctors will even be able to prescribe farm shares, so that fresh fruits and vegetables can be directly delivered to people each week. 

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