A King County health care system is taking an unorthodox approach to medicine, but one that was orthodox centuries ago.
Dr. Kris Knox is prescribing community supported agriculture (CSA) in lieu of or in addition to pharmaceuticals for patients with chronic disease like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Believing as Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food," last year Dr. Knox began prescribing local fruits land vegetables to her patients at EvergreenHealth Signature Care in Woodinville.
This will be her second growing season. Many of her patients have already seen benefits, without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.
"Sometimes you end up chasing side effects. This pill has that side effect, that pill has that side effect," Dr. Knox said.
Working with the Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Coop, which was funded in part by a grant from King Conservation District to help area farmers aggregate their produce to create CSA boxes, Dr. Knox prescribed a weekly dose of nutritious food to her patient, Christina Harris, along with 34 others from EvergreenHealth's concierge practice.
Matt Tregoning of Sol to Seed Farm and The Snoqualmie Valley Farmer's Cooperative were looking to expand into new markets that value local organic options. Now, 25 farmers participate in growing food as medicine for the program.
"We felt like the hospital or at least within the healthcare industry, that was missing," Tregoning said.
In addition to produce, patients receive recipes, nutritional information, profiles of the growers and the chance to visit the farm itself. Dr. Knox's patients report benefits of being introduced to new foods, an increased awareness of what they are eating on a daily basis, weight loss and increased energy as their eating habits improved.
"Having just left a stressful, corporate job, I knew I wanted to make some significant health changes, Dr. Knox helped me focus on my diet as a primary goal toward improved health," said Harris.
EvergreenHealth is now inviting over 4,000 employees to participate in the CSA program this growing season.
If you are interested in finding a CSA program in your area, information can be found at www.pugetsoundfresh.com