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Farms, Food & Health

Connecting the Dots Between Health Care, Wellness, and Locally Grown Food

"It's an old saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. What if doctors actually wrote prescriptions for patients to eat fruits and vegetables? Imagine hospitals routinely purchasing locally grown food, or using local food as an opportunity to inspire their communities and patients to eat delicious, simple meals for vibrant health. I’m excited to see these types of ideas growing in our region and state."

—Diane Conners, senior policy specialist



We’ve held three conferences to inspire our region and state to connect the dots between healthcare, wellness and locally grown food. Physicians, nurses and registered dietitians rubbed shoulders with farmers, teachers, anti-poverty advocates, employee wellness officials and hospital and school food service directors. Models shared there inspired action locally. Take a look:

This medical conference offered local physicians and other allied healthcare providers opportunities to gain culinary skills though hands-on cooking experiences and enhanced nutrition science education in the areas of weight management, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.    In addition, participants gained a better understanding of our local food system by preparing meals using local and seasonal ingredients, toured a local farm and explored the resource available to community members of all income levels at the food cooperative.   Sessions also addressed identifying hunger and food access needs for their patients and where to find supporting community nutrition education resources and hands on cooking programs in our region. 

  • Fruit & veggie prescription

Munson Medical Center attended the conferences and launched a fruit and vegetable prescription program in partnership with the Grand Traverse Commons Farmers Market. Munson is supporting efforts throughout the region.

  • Wellness Benefits

A growing number of local employers are making it convenient for employees to get fruit and vegetable deliveries to their worksites. We support this trend by sharing good models, and work with Taste the Local Difference® to match farms with employers, and explore policies that support local food insurance benefits.

  • Partners in Progress

Health care organizations that are embracing local food strategies with us include Munson Healthcare & Medical Center, ShapeUpNorth, Priority Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, MSU Extension, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan, Michigan CSA Working Group, Taste the Local Difference®, Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance, NMC Great Lakes Culinary Institute, Grow Benzie, Health Department of Northwest Michigan and more.

“One of the slides I saw at the Farm, Food & Health Conference stuck with me: ‘We are fed by the Food Industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the Healthy Industry which pays no attention to food.’ Brilliant. It rings so true in our everyday health care world. It is too easy to rely on medications to fix a health issue rather than emphasize the real, whole and organic foods which nourish our body to repair itself.” —Dr. Pat Friedli, medical director, Munson Healthy Weight Center