Will Doctors Soon Be Wearing Chef Hats with Their White Coats?

The Washington Post reported  earlier this week that the number of farmers’ markets jumped 16% in 2010. In other words, more Americans than ever have access to fresh, healthful food. But just because people can buy good food doesn’t mean they know how to cook it.

Enter Dr. Preston Maring, an Oakland, California-based physician at Kaiser Permanente. He established some of the first hospital-based farmers’ markets back in 2003, and this trend has since spread widely.

Dr. Maring, who has been known to prescribe salads and fresh fruits for his patients, recently took the next step in connecting the dots between medical centers and nutrition: he has begun to teach basic cooking skills to groups of employees at several of Kaiser’s Northern California hospitals. He covers how to make quick vinaigrettes, how to dice an onion, and how to use a garlic press, among other simple but vital cooking tasks. “In 15 to 20 minutes,” he told me, “I can teach people how to make dinner for four for under $20.” With this knowledge, he figures, busy hospital employees may begin to cook more often for their families, and save a bundle of money in the process. They’ll also eat more nutrient-dense food.

He hopes to bring more and more doctors on board. Soon, perhaps, physicians in this country will not only preach the value of a healthful diet, but will actually show their patients how to achieve it—with knives, cutting boards, and a little culinary know-how.

Do you shop farmers’ markets? Chime in below!

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Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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