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Faces of Local: Sydney Hendry

Sydney Hendry

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talked with Dr. Sydney Hendry of The Family Health Centers in Asheville. Dr. Hendry is one of the physicians participating in ASAP’s Farm Fresh Prescription Program pilot, in which healthcare practitioners can prescribe a farmers market visit to their patients.

How can shopping at farmers markets help people live more healthfully?

The healthy experience of the market goes beyond the food. It includes walking, socializing and breathing fresh air. My kids were taught to eat a rainbow a day of fruits and vegetables. I think it’s easier to create that rainbow in the open air of the farmers market. And to talk with the farmers about how to prepare different foods makes new foods less intimidating. I’ve learned several cooking tricks from the farmers and discovered foods I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased. 

How do you talk to your patients about visiting farmers markets as part of the prescription program? 

There is strong evidence that whole food plant-based nutrition, daily movement, and socialization are essential to overall health and can reverse chronic diseases, like hypertension. I present the farmers market prescription program as a “prescription” and let them know I’ll be there too. 

Have you heard from patients about their experiences shopping at farmers markets through the prescription program?

I’ve heard back from a few patients. The feedback has been very positive. Fresh food isn’t easily accessible for many people, and ten dollars of fresh produce makes a huge difference. If they don’t know how to cook, I list foods available at the market that can be enjoyed raw, like bell peppers and tomatoes or even a cup of coffee or popsicle. Getting there is the most important part. This prescription program gives people that incentive and motivation to come back the next week. 

What are some of your own favorite farmers market experiences?

Saturday morning at the farmers market is one of my favorite moments of the week. Spending time outside with nothing to do and nowhere to be, enjoying music and friends, watching the kids run around and get excited about picking out fresh produce while taking in all the colors and smells recharges me every weekend. 

Do you have products you look forward to each season and/or favorite ways to prepare them?

Apple season is a favorite in our house. We eat them fresh or dehydrate them for later. Butternut squash is also popular in our house, made into a pasta sauce, soup, or curry. We roast just about any vegetable tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. This summer we enjoyed a sauté of cherry tomatoes, corn, spinach, okra, and garlic with a fish fillet. Before kids, I would get whatever attracted me and try to find a recipe that used as many ingredients in one dish, which is how I found a great blueberry, shallot, and balsamic glaze for salmon. Now that I’m busier, I’m more focused with a menu for the week, often based on what is in season and what I saw at the market the previous week.