October 10, 2013

The power of the farmers market

Ten years ago, I started a small farmers market outside my hospital in Oakland. The idea took off and there are now more than 50 such markets at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and facilities across the country.

Please watch this beautiful slideshow from our San Francisco Medical Center's farmers market. It shows that the market is making a real difference in peoples' lives. I feel gratified when I read the words of Hyang Ku Sim, a cafeteria worker there. "I buy kale, cilantro and dandelion greens for the employees, for the salad bar," she says. And Mark Chen, a physician, says: "Eating better, finding joy in cooking fresh vegetables motivates me to take care of myself differently from my father, who died of a heart attack at a young age."

Each time I visit one of our markets, I am reminded how powerful they can be. Just seeing the fresh, local carrots and grapes displayed in colorful rows can inspire our staff, patients and community members to change their diet and improve their health. I especially love the change of seasons at the market. Summer brings glorious piles of tomatoes, peaches and plums. Now it is time for the squash, greens and persimmons to take center stage.