Fresh fruits, vegetables available at doctor's office - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Fresh fruits, vegetables available at doctor's office

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(06/08/12) - Fresh fruits and veggies grown locally.

"Today I got some strawberries. My kids love strawberries," said Jamaica Fite.

It looks like a neighborhood farmers' market, but it's actually inside a health clinic. Fite was there for her monthly doctor's visit.

"Coming right out from an appointment where they're discussing health and eating proper, I think this is the best place to have something like this," Fite said.

She lives in an area where fresh produce isn't readily available. "But you know what's so easy to get? Burgers, French fries."

"You can probably drive for more than a mile and not see a full service grocery store," said Dr. Ann Smith-Barnes of Baylor College of Medicine.

It's what's known as a food desert.

"Largely low income communities," Smith said. They're communities Smith-Barnes serves. "I spend my clinic time telling people to eat healthy food and if they don't have access, I realize that I was really spinning my wheels."

So the doctor is bringing produce to her patients. She says many don't have ways to get to the grocery store

"But they do find a way to get to their clinic appointments," Smith-Barnes said.

A study shows the combined national healthcare cost of obese and overweight Americans is $114 billion. The doctor says, if the farmers' market helps 20 percent of the obese population in the clinics move into the less-dangerous overweight category, "we could save about $20 million in our healthcare system."

It's money that could be spent on being proactive, instead of reactive.

"We don't want to just be known for taking care of the sick well, we want to be known for promoting health and wellness in our community," Smith-Barnes said.

Smith-Barnes says, other healthcare systems have expressed interest in adopting her farmers' market idea.

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