December 23, 2013

Thank you and good bye

December 23, 2013

I retire from Kaiser Permanente at the end of the year. It has been an incredible privilege to work for a health care organization that is committed to providing the very best quality and service for its members, while also supporting the communities it serves. I have literally enjoyed going to work every day to collaborate with so many people who have the same common goals: to try to do the best we can to help make lives better.

Kaiser Permanente was wonderfully supportive of the idea to bring farmers markets to our hospitals. We started one of the first hospital-based farmers markets at the Oakland Medical Center in May, 2003. There are now 55 markets at our facilities in 7 KP regions. At least another 50 other hospitals and health systems have started markets as well. Good people from Kaiser Permanente have taken the lead to  start markets in surrounding communities as well. Thanks to one of these people, there's been a farmers market in the Watts neighborhood of LA every Saturday morning for over 6 years.

Believing that if I can cook something with fresh whole ingredients, anyone can, I started sharing recipes on an email distribution list shortly after our market started at Oakland. The list grew and later became "Dr. Maring's Farmers Market Updates and Recipes" blog. The postings have been viewed by between 5-10,000 individuals a month in about 40 countries. And I have gotten many comments and good suggestions back.

It really is true --- cooking your own food with fresh, whole food is one of the best ways to be healthy. But even then, it may still be wise to make different choices about what you cook yourself. The average American eats 225 pounds of meat per year.  I used to eat my share.  I also used to eat whole pizzas I made and maybe a half a cheesecake when I was a lot younger. With age comes the propensity to make different choices. Looking back at the over 600 recipes I have posted, I can see the evolution in what I eat. Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers used to be one of my favorites, as did Spice Rubbed Grilled Chicken. Three cheeses were used on some pizzas in the past.

More recently it has become clear to many health care providers that more of a whole foods, mostly plant based diet is best for health. Maybe you eat 25 pounds of meat per year instead of 225 pounds. Maybe you eat only fish and no more meat, poultry or pork. What's important is to at least eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

And how the food is grown matters. An important way to help create a healthier future is to eat food that was grown in ways that are good not only for you, but also for the earth and the people who grow the food. About 12 percent of produce eaten in the country is produced organically. It used to be about three percent. Progress.

If you're a regular reader of  this blog, I want you to know that it will continue on. And there will still be good recipes for you to try. In the future the blog will be named "Food for Health" and will feature recipes from colleagues who like to cook good, tasty food. I look forward to cooking my way through the recipes in the blog and a whole lot of cookbooks.

I leave with a reminder that a sharp chef's knife, a cutting board, and a salad spinner are some of the best tools to help create health.

All the best,

Preston Maring