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How Preston Maring Doctors Hospital Food

Employees, visitors flock to onsite farmers market

March 8, 2007 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

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One of the bright stars at the Michigan Land Use Institute’s recent Seeds of Prosperity conference was Dr. Preston Maring, who is leading a charge to bring fresh, local foods to Kaiser Permanent hospitals across America.

Dr. Maring recounted to the more than 200 farmers, food processors and retailers, health experts, and economists at the conference how he convinced his hospital—the Oakland Medical Center in Oakland, Calif.—to host a weekly farmers market. The market, he said, instantly attracted a large crowd hungry for homegrown quality and freshness, which was good news for the Lansing conference’s attendees, too: They had gathered to talk about the power of Michigan food to grow jobs, build health, and preserve farmland.

According to the good doctor, who spoke on-camera with me after his address, success has been on Kaiser’s fresh-food menu ever since the launch of that first farmers market. Today, 35 Kaiser Permanente facilities in six states and the District of Columbia host weekly on-site farmers markets.

Other healthcare systems and hospitals are catching on, too. For example, social worker Kathy Maloney, who spoke after Dr. Maring on a follow-up panel, described how she launched a farmers market at St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital last year.Meanwhile, encouraged by the spectacular success of the Kaiser markets, Dr. Maring and his company are now working to get that same fresh, tasty, nutritious food onto their patients’ plates, too. His presentation at Seeds of Prosperity on Feb. 8 pointed to the many opportunities Michigan farms have to grow their own local food markets by selling their products to Michigan hospitals.

In our video interview, Dr. Maring explained how and why local farms, fresh food, and healthcare go together so well.

To view the Power Point slides that Dr. Maring presented at the Seeds of Prosperity conference, click here. To read some of Dr. Maring’s recipes for farmers market food, or to email him, click here.

Keith Schneider directs new program development at the Michigan Land Use Institute. Reach him at keith@mlui.org.

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