From the White House to Hospitals, Efforts Being Made to “Green” Up What We Eat

When the most widely read magazine in America asks, “Should doctors be writing prescriptions for arugula salad?,” you know that progress is being made in spreading the word that diet is key in protecting us against disease and reducing health care costs.

In “How America Can Eat Better,” which was published this Sunday, Parade magazine explained that new efforts are under way to get people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. For example, Kaiser Permanente has helped coordinate farmers’ markets at more than 30 hospital locations. At one of those farmer’s markets, a 53-year-old man started buying lots of fresh vegetables eight months ago. By emphasizing vegetables in his diet, he has now lost 63 pounds.

More signs of progress: An organization called Health Care Without Harm is helping hospitals bring more fresh local produce into their food services. The Obama Administration has committed $3.2 million to promoting specialty crops that include fruits and vegetables. The administration also has introduced the People’s Garden Project, which will create a sustainable community garden at the USDA headquarters in Washington D.C.

As the Parade article explains:

Increased awareness of healthful eating – and access to fresh foods – already has led to wellness for at least one state. According to the American Public Health Association, the Partnership for Prevention, and the United Health Foundation, Vermont is the country’s healthiest state. While many factors likely affect this ranking, experts say it’s no coincidence that the per capita consumption of vegetables in Vermont is higher than almost anywhere else in the nation.


Gosselin, Lisa. “How America Can Eat Better.” Parade, April 5, 2009, pgs. 12-14 –
Link to online article.

Melissa’s Comments:

How exciting to see mainstream coverage of efforts around the country to get people to eat more fresh produce! Because of the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting it as a key factor in optimal health, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables (in place of so many grains) is a message I have been trying to spread for more than ten years. Now organizations are connecting with other organizations to help more Americans have easier access to fresh locally grown produce (all the better because it just happens to taste better, too).

The article ends with a quote from Tom Stearns, president of the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, Vermont – a town where cooperatives have connected individuals, restaurants, schools and food banks to locally grown produce. Check out the story’s telling conclusion, which I bolded for emphasis:

“Our goal is to create healthy people and healthy communities,” Stearns says. And it all starts with vegetables.

(I’m glad to see more people are getting it!)

Copyright © 2009 Melissa Diane Smith

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