Top | Sift

Farm to hospital

(article, Culinate staff)

Sure, doctors will tell you that eating well is part of staying healthy. But as Katrina Heron recently noted in the New York Times, few have practiced what they preach quite so enthusiastically as Preston Maring, a California doctor who started a farmers' market at his hospital in 2003:

bq. Food is at the center of health and illness, he argues, and so doctors must make all aspects of it — growing, buying, cooking, eating — a mainstay of their medical educations, their personal lives, and their practices. 

Maring works for the Kaiser Permanente hospital network, which has farmers' markets at 30 locations around the U.S. The markets are part of a bigger company-wide effort to educate both patients and medical practitioners in the merits of good eating. As Heron pointed out,

bq. If there was ever a time when doctors need to be as handy with a peeling knife as they are with a scalpel, this may be it. The draft version of the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which will be formally released in December, identifies obesity as the nation’s greatest public-health threat. It also notes the relationship of fast food (and physical inactivity) to unhealthy weight gain and emphasizes the importance of plant-based foods in the diet.

Maring's son, who once aspired to become a chef before following in his father's footsteps to medical school, has started his own food-and-nutrition education program for his fellow medical students. And next up for Maring? Tackling the food served to patients within the hospitals themselves.