Friday, July 20, 2007

Hospital Farmers' Market

Farmers’ markets are usually located on city squares, parks or on the parking lots of businesses, but markets seems to be popping up everywhere today.

There are some markets in Missouri that are run by county health departments and are located on the department’s parking lot. This way the health department officials are not only telling the community to eat healthier and eat local, but the department brings fresh farm produce directly to its community.

Fellow farmers’ market advocate Melinda Hemmelgarn passed along a wonderful story from the California Farm Bureau Federation about a doctor that started a farmers’ market at the hospital he works at.

"It struck me that maybe we could do something here at this medical center that would really be good for the employees, good for our patients, good for our members and good for the surrounding neighborhood," said Maring.

His idea came to fruition in May 2003, when Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland launched its first farmers' market right outside the hospital building. The weekly market is open year-round on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Patients bring strawberries or cherries to their doctors as presents now," said Maring, an associate physician-in-chief who has a passion for food and cooking. "People tell me they schedule their appointments on Fridays so they can go to the market."

Maring added that having the farmers' market on site encourages patients, staff and the community to make the switch from prepared or processed foods to more fresh produce.

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