Market

Ask your doctor if fruits and vegetables are right for you? Yes, says a new program called Fruit and Vegetable Rx launched by the non-profit Wholesome Wave that provides “prescriptions” for fresh fruits and vegetables available at local area farmers markets.

Kicking off in Massachusetts earlier this month, the program provides families with obese children voucher prescriptions good only for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, each worth $2.50 of produce purchased from local area farmers markets. On average, a family of four will receive ten prescriptions per week during the farmers market season, reports the Washington Post. Physicians will track patients’ body weight, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). The data will be used to better understand just how much healthy eating can decrease obesity levels in low-income communities.

Still in its early phases, the Wholesome Wave program has just $20,000 available in fruit and vegetable prescriptions this summer, 50 families in Massachusetts are expected to participate with communities in Portland and Skowhegan, Maine eligible next. Wholesome Wave is hopeful that the idea will catch on around the country like its signature program, the Double Value Coupon, which works with recipients of food stamp and other assistance programs to utilize their funds at local farmers markets where they’re not only getting healthy and fresh foods, but also supporting their local economy.

The program is also designed to collect data, which will be used to better understand how—and if—increasing fruit and vegetable consumption can affect human health, particularly in reversing obesity and diet-related illnesses.

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Image: awsheffield