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New project pilots produce prescriptions


Talk about produce prescriptions is widespread in the industry at present, based on hopes that they will help Americans’ embarrassing nutrition problems as well as low per-capita produce consumption.

Some such programs have already been launched. In one, CommuniCare+OLE, a health-care company, is going to be providing locally grown fruits and vegetables to diabetics and prediabetics in Yolo County, CA, as a key part of their care. Called Produce Rx, this is a pilot project funded by USDA.

Headshot of Richard Smoley

The program, which began in May, will continue with grant funding through 2025. In the initial year, 112 patients will be participating. The program hopes to include 570 patients with prediabetes, types I and II diabetes, and gestational diabetes over its 3-year lifespan.

Patients will get an average of $70 in produce each for 6 months. They will also attend educational activities each month.

Partners include the Davis Farmers Market, the Center for Land-Based Learning’s Mobile Farmers Market, and Spork Food Hub.

“The produce helps our health and is also a financial help. I get to eat fruits and vegetables that are out of reach now that food prices are so high. I also enjoy the educational activities and learn so much from the doctors and other patients who also have diabetes,” said one participant.

No doubt there will be plenty of local produce for the program, but fresh fruits and vegetables are not leading commodities in Yolo County, a largely agricultural region west of Sacramento.

The top crop in Yolo County is tomatoes, and they performed well in 2022, with a value of $183.6 million, up from 2021’s $136.6 million, according to the county agricultural commissioner’s report. Crop Report 2022 ( The increase was due to increased harvested acreage (35,074 in 2022, from 2021’s 32,929) as well as an improved price per ton: $107 versus $83 for the previous year. But practically all of the tomatoes grown in the county are for processing.

Other leading crops include winegrapes, almonds, organic production, alfalfa, pistachios, sunflower seeds, nursery crops, apiary, and rice.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.