For many years, U.S. healthcare facilities have served a lot of food that was not all that healthy. In fact, a 2006 study showed that 42 percent of 234 American hospitals had fast food franchise outlets on premises, offering burgers, fries and pizza.
Writing for CNNhealth.com, Madison Park notes that many hospitals are now taking a step in a different direction, bringing farmers markets on to the healthcare scene. Patients who have been told to start eating a healthier diet can now walk out of the hospital and find locally-grown fruits and vegetables sold on the hospital parking lot.
Kaiser-Permanente, the largest not-for-profit health system in the U.S., now has 30 farmers markets at its facilities in mostly western states, including California, Washington and Oregon, according to Park’s article. And other healthcare facilities are following suit, among them Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Dr. Preston Maring, a family physician for 38 years, first brought the farmers market concept to Kaiser in 2003. Quoted in the CNN story, he says â€˜the focus on local food systems gives us food that’s good for us, good for our children, good for farmers that grow it, and it’s good for the Earth.â€™
Offering fresh, locally-grown food on the hospital grounds helps patients and visitors make the connection between diet and health.
Locally-grown fruits and vegetables can also be found on more and more trays of hospital patients, too, and in hospital cafeterias. Some facilities, such as Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont, are making an effort to offer more organic locally-grown produce, as well as locally produced meat and dairy products.
Seems like a trend that was long overdue. We’d say the prognosis is good.
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