Biography • Perspectives • Quotable • Publications
A physician and surgeon with 34 years experience, Maring helped start an innovative neurosurgery unit for children. But he is known by many in the Bay Area as Dr. Broccoli. That’s because he is passionate about the health benefits of local organic food, which in 2003 led him to launch the Friday Fresh Market at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.
This popular farmers market features growers who are approved by the California Certified Organic Farmers’ Association. The market has become so much a part of patients’ and employees’ lives that Friday appointments at the clinic fill up first now because people want to pick up tasty food for the week. Maring’s idea has now spread to more than 30 Kaiser health facilities in in 6 states.
An enthusiastic cook himself who insists on the best and freshest ingredients, Maring writes a blog on cooking that attracts 50,000 visitors a month (see below). But he sees locally farmed, organic produce as important for more than good tasting meals; to him it is fundamentally necessary for the health of a community. The ultimate mission of the Friday Fresh Market is to improve people’s diets while providing a reliable venue for organic farmers to sell their crops.
Maring’s primary focus continues to be obsetrics and gynecology at the Oakland Medical Center, but he is working to bring fresh, local, sustainably farmed fruits and vegetables to cafeterias at Kaiser Permanente and other workplaces in the region. . He recently teamed up with Kaiser Permanente and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to help create a distribution system that delivers produce for patient meals from small family farmers. Preston believes that promoting the availability of healthy food choices is a central part of Kaiser Permanente’s wide reaching health education and health maintenance programs.
Maring was born in 1949, graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and went to medical school at the University of Michigan. He is currently the co-chair of medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.
From an early age Maring was busy in the kitchen. His mother believed that to overcome obstacles and succeed in life, you’ve first got to learn how to take care of yourself. Preston Maring carries on that philosophy today, offering inner city residents a chance to improve their health through access to good, nutritious food.
Friday Fresh Market
Maring created a pioneering farmers market featuring locally grown, organic produce on the grounds of the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, where he is the co-chair of physicians. Kaiser now has launched similar markets at more than 30 of its health care facilities across 6 states.
“Produce to the people!”—his slogan for the Fresh Friday Market
“Good food is such a fundamental part of good health. It’s important to talk to patients about that.”
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but it wasn’t until my son was born that I got really serious about it,” Maring says. “That’s when I started vegetable gardening. It gave me great pleasure to feed him stuff that I had grown.”
“I will tell my patients here’s my card, go onto my homepage, my Web site, read my recipes, and cook one every month. When you come see me next year, let me know which recipe you like the best.”
Preston Maring’s blog about cooking with fresh, local foods: