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UCSF, John Muir, SF VA and Kaiser Lead Bay Area Organic Produce Push

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A group of Bay Area hospitals -- including UCSF Medical Center, John Muir Health and the San Francisco VA Medical Center -- bought thousands of pounds of organic strawberries, green beans and stone fruit this summer from local farmers as part of a larger effort to support sustainable agriculture and up the health quotient of hospital food.

The three participants bought 721 pounds of strawberries, 3,830 pounds of green beans -- a large amount by most reckonings -- and 1,440 pounds of stone fruit, according to Health Care Without Harm, one of the nonprofit groups supporting the effort.

The plan is to expand the program with fall and winter crops, said Alison Negrin, executive chef at John Muir, which has medical centers in Walnut Creek and Concord. The push "will only strengthen in the growing seasons to come," she said.

Much of the funding for the regional effort comes from Kaiser Permanente and its Community Benefits Program. Oakland-based Kaiser has become a big proponent of farmers' markets and other mechanisms to get people buying and consuming locally produced and organic produce.

Backers of the local Regional Produce Purchasing Project include the above-mentioned organizations, plus San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.  


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