Wednesday, May 6

How do you promote good health habits without the government or your company breathing down your neck? Try an on-the-job farmer’s market.

That’s what’s happening at several Kaiser Permanente hospitals around the country. The idea was launched six years ago at the Kaiser Medical Center in Oakland, CA. It’s the brain child of Dr. Preston Maring, who believes that it encourages good eating habits.

In an article in Good Magazine, Maring cites one case of an employee who weighed 300 pounds, began buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the hospital market and cooking at home more often. He lost 60 pounds.

There are now markets at 30 different Kaiser locations around the country. “We put the market out front—on the main sidewalk, right in the middle of the foot traffic—where we could highlight fresh fruits and vegetables,” he says. “It’s great for the surrounding community, great for the people that work there, and great for the patients.”

The logistics of an operation like this can be complicated–there are parking issues to contend with, among other things–but Kaiser found that they were not insurmountable. Find out exactly how they set it up in this article about hospital-based farmers’ markets.

There’s no reason why this idea can’t be carried further to small markets at other kinds of offices and private companies. It can benefit employees while representing a good public relations gesture for the surrounding community.

Using fresh locally grown produce is not only the healthiest way to eat, it’s also the best way to cook. I make at least one trip a week to an outdoor market in my area, picking up what’s fresh and plentiful. And here’s another benefit: It’s cheap. When an item comes into the market in quantity, you can pick it up for a fraction of what you’d pay at a supermarket. And the quality is superior.

It is, as they say, a win-win. I hope the idea catches on.

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