‘Food pharmacies’ fill prescriptions for fruits and Veggies

Dive Short:

  • A handful of “food firms” that distribute fresh produce for a remedy for ailments like hypertension are cropping up throughout the nation, according to Mother Jones magazine.

  • Silver Avenue Family Health Center at San Francisco, for instance,  combines the benefits of a food cabinet and a farmer’s market with nutritional suggestions to cut the incidence of hypertension and diabetes among individuals that experience “food insecurity” — or the absence of routine access to affordable fresh produce.

Dive Insight:

Nutritionists have long pointed out the medicinal benefits of different kinds of produce:  cherries to help strengthen the immune system, antioxidants for improving cardiac wellness, and papaya to soothe skin diseases, among others.   But while it’s 1 thing to become health-conscious, it’s quite another to approach  meals for a means to deal with a chronic illness.

This approach — often referred to as the “food as medicine” movement — puts a much greater significance on new foods and presents significant opportunities and challenges to companies seeking to capitalize.

Retailers, in addition to seeing greater earnings in their perimeter sections, now staff dietitians and give in-store clinics that may push customers toward those better-for-you offerings. Hy-Vee has become a leader in this area, though other grocers are now evolving the design. Publix recently partnered with a Florida health care system to offer insightful “telehealth” rooms where customers can connect with off-site physicians along with other treatment providers.  

Some more fascinating evolutions of the version could be on the horizon.   The Future Market, that expects the way our food system will appear by 2065, developed a retail notion product called Produce Pro. The two way telepresence  machine joins grocery retailers with nutritionists, chefs or farmers who could answer their produce questions in the push of a button. The experiential technology, which was piloted in a Brooklyn Whole Foods, aims to put customers in touch with specialists that could best guide their selections — whether for taste, health, or other reasons.

Could retailers one day be filling food prescriptions either straight from their produce segments, or through communicating with pharmacists in their medication sections? It is possible.   Shops may promote the app through social media and other stations with accompanying coupon offers for specific or seasonal produce and ideas regarding how to prepare them.  

Manufacturers, meanwhile, are now making efforts to add more vegetables and fruit in their goods in order to appeal to consumers seeking to improve their consumption of healthier, better-for-you meals and beverages.   Convenience items containing new produce are popping up to allure to millennials who need quality food but don’t wish to devote a whole lot of time cutting and chopping. Included in these are the standbys like salad dressings, but also prepackaged kits to quickly whip up apples, guacamole and single-serve veggie foods at a bowl.

Even though customer demand for fresh produce is upward — and grocers and food manufacturers are responding — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics suggest that most U.S. adults still are not getting the recommended daily level.   So, while raising awareness of the health benefits inherent in fruits and vegetables is important, getting people to actually eat them will continue to be an uphill struggle for businesses and wellness organizations equally.

Recommended Reading:

  • Mother Jones As Diet-Related Illnesses Surge, a New Type of Pharmacy Dispenses Fruit and berries