Doctors Writing Prescriptions for Local Produce

Prescription medicine usually comes in pill bottles, but in some parts of the United States, foods like artichokes, beets, spinach, and apples have also become part of the doctor’s arsenal.

According to the New York Times, “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.”

Reports from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion state that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Experts point to increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of access to fresh, healthy foods as a reason for this rapid increase.

Doctor’s Orders

By giving farmers’ market coupons to patients’ families, Dr. Suki Tepperberg, a family physician at Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester hopes to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables by at least one serving a day.

Although farmers’ markets in the United States have over $1 billion in annual revenue, they still pale in comparison to the fast food industry, which raked in over $22.79 billion in 2008 alone.

According to the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the number of farmers markets has exploded — from 1,755 in 1994, to more than 5,200 last year, Care2′s Suzi Parrasch recently reported. That’s a whopping 300 percent increase since the directory was first published 15 years ago.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time vegetable ‘prescriptions’ have been used to improve health in underserved populations. In the 1980s, Massachusetts began issuing coupons for farmers’ markets to low-income women who were pregnant or breast-feeding or for young children at risk for malnourishment.

Thirty-six states now have such farmers’ market nutrition programs aimed at women and young children.

Like this story? Connect with Beth on Twitter or Stumble!

Image Credit: cancerproject.org

157 comments

Jo S.
Jo S.9 months ago

Thank you Beth.

Joe R.
Joe R.4 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

Sarah Solaban
Sarah Solaban5 years ago

I voted "leaning yes" because I know there are some people who are just stubborn enough to try to ignore their doctors prescriptions because they "think" that they "can't afford it."

Peter B.
Peter B.5 years ago

thankyou for shareing

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

It's great !

Doctors never thought food was a part of being healthy. God to see this article

Gomez J.
Gomez J.5 years ago

healthy news

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.5 years ago

fresh produce would be great

Anna C.
Anna C.5 years ago

Such a simple concept, but so helpful! If you like this, then you are going to love this hot new blog I found:

blog.urbanfitnessoakland.com

Josefina N.
Jo S.5 years ago

Thanks for the article posted :)

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

Considering that fruits and veggies are already handy... Just get low calorie dips, like spinach dip for veggies, or peanut butter for your celery sticks...

I cook natural, and I'm adding more veggies weekly. I have friends who are shocked at what I cook, and it's actually similar to what my grandparents, and even my farming great grandparents used to do. It's really not all that hard.

I actually would love to cook for the neighborhood school lunch program if I could. That would be a great job!