by Ingrid Ougland Sellie, Community Benefit Manager, Virginia Mason **
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nationwide nearly 26 million people have diabetes and 79 million people are pre-diabetic. Obesity is a national epidemic, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life. No state meets the national Healthy People 2020 Goal of 15 percent or less obesity. In case you’re wondering how Washington state fares, more than 22 percent of adults in Washington state are obese and childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
The simple solution is to eat healthier, right? Just make a salad or fresh meal instead of hitting the dollar menu at the local fast food joint. Unfortunately, depending on where you live and what your budget is, it’s just not that easy.
Lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a big concern in neighborhoods where there are no low cost stores or markets within walking distance or easily accessible via public transportation. These neighborhoods are called “food deserts.”
One solution to food deserts is starting a farmers market, which is exactly what Virginia Mason is doing. But instead of simply providing access to fresh food, Virginia Mason is hoping to make an impact on our community’s health by transforming the traditional market model into an educational event – sharing wellness information and presenting talks by medical professionals on health-related topics. And to help people figure out what to do with that odd-looking vegetable, Virginia Mason’s own Chef Jeff Anderson will create a new recipe every week and give cooking demonstrations. His recipes will be posted online and provided as handouts at the market.
Why all the extra effort for a farmers market?
“People don’t always see the connection between fresh food and what ends up on their fork,” says Brenna Davis, director of sustainability, Virginia Mason. “Our market provides an amazing opportunity to reach out to our community with not only fresh sustainably grown food, but information that empowers the community to improve their health. As an organization, we’re committed to lowering our environmental impact while improving the quality of life of everyone in the region.”
A schedule of events will be posted on the Health and Wellness blog, which will include talks by experts from the Digestive Disease Institute, nutritionists and a special children’s day with games and kid friendly recipes.
To kick off the first farmers market of the season, Cedar Grove will be on hand to demonstrate how 5 tons of food waste per year from the Virginia Mason cafeteria becomes compost. They’ll also be giving away free samples.
Here’s the skinny (no pun intended):
Virginia Mason Farmers Market
Lindeman Pavilion, Ninth and Seneca Street, Seattle
Fridays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., through August 30
Vendors include: local fruit, vegetables, goat meat, pickles, tamales, hummus, baked goods (including a gluten-free bakery) and flowers.