"We are thrilled that our markets are thriving and expanding at our hospitals and in our communities," Dr. Preston Maring, a Kaiser Permanente physician who started one of the first hospital-based farmers markets in 2003 at Kaiser Permanente's Oakland Medical Center, said in a statement. "It's great for the health of the people who shop there, and great for local family farmers."
Maring said a survey published earlier in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development found 74 percent of patrons surveyed at the markets consumed more fruits and vegetables as a result of shopping at the market. Seventy-one percent indicated they were eating a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, the survey said.
As part of its mission and commitment to total health, Kaiser Permanente recently began a weekly, all-organic farmers market outside its headquarters in Oakland, Calif. New markets and farm stands also opened this summer in Corona, Calif., as well as Cleveland Heights and Willoughby, Ohio.
"We recognize that locally grown food from family farms is less taxing on the environment and ultimately healthier for those who grow and eat the food," said Jan Villarante, Kaiser Permanente's director of national nutrition. "We've seen overwhelming evidence that when people have access to farmers markets, they will take advantage of the market produce and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables."