In an effort to get more Americans to swap processed and fast foods for healthy fresh produce, the state of New York recently launched the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx). Recognising the astounding health benefits offered at your typical farmers market, the FVRx program is also being dubbed the Farmer’s Market Pharmacy.
After assessing a patient’s current health profile and determining their risk of developing obesity, doctors and nutritionists can prescribe fresh produce, providing patients with “Health Bucks” which essentially amount to food stamps, to be spent at any of the 142 farmers markets in New York state.
In an effort to curb the obesity and health crisis threatening many American cities, the government is getting behind the message that replacing junk with fresh fruits and vegetables, is vital in preventing disease and improving health. “Each dollar invested in Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program nourishes public hospital patients and their families, boosts revenue at farmers markets, and supports overall community health,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs, cofounder of the program. “Farmers markets support the City’s efforts to keep communities fit by providing healthy and affordable dietary options in a localized setting.”
Promoting healthy food is a cheap and richly rewarding investment for the government to make in terms of medicinal value. Steering families away from processed junk food and towards lifesaving, nutrient-rich produce is essential if they hope to salvage a health care systems buckling under the weight of weighty Americans.
But is it really going to turn fast-foodies into friend’s of the farmers market? Combined with monthly check ups and counseling, FVRx is an offshoot of the successful Wholesome Wave program, piloted in 2012 in other north eastern states and California. The program has not only successfully increased visitors to farmers markets and resulted in purchase of fresh produce, it has also helped boost the local economy and agricultural sector. Farmers markets also play a very important role in positive social networking.
Much like a weekly Weight Watchers or regular consults with your nutritionist, wondering the stalls, basket in-hand, selecting seasonal fresh produce, reinforces the notion that you are a ‘type’ of person; a member belonging to a group of health conscious foodies who are not only interested in taking care of their health but consciously enjoy delicious food. Many are also happy and willing to share how to prepare seasonal produce and swap a recipe or two.
FVRx is an inspirational program and one I hope flourishes.