Only about 1% of the approximately $10 Billion spent on food in Northeast Ohio stays within this rich agricultural region. From an environmental perspective, by some estimates, food travels an average of more than 1500 miles to the American plate, all the while consuming fuel and generating emissions. Many of the communities surrounding Cleveland Clinic exist in urban food deserts, where fresh fruits and vegetables can be difficult to find. Cleveland Clinic's focus on fresh, healthy, local produce makes a difference at its facilities and in the community. We've embraced local food through farmers markets, local procurement and hospital kitchen gardens.
Buying and serving local foods in Cleveland Clinic cafeterias provides economic opportunity for rural neighbors and a growing base of urban farmers, and helps to provide fresher, healthier foods to patients, employees and visitors. In 2008, we signed the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, further demonstrating our commitment to reducing the significant environmental impact of our food service operations.
The success of our local farming community depends on individuals and businesses' support. Only about 1% of the approximately $10 Billion spent on food in Northeast Ohio stays within this rich agricultural region. In 2008, we began to procure more of our food within 200 miles of Cleveland and have forged productive new relationships with both urban and rural farmers in our region. To encourage dialogue about the importance of purchasing food locally and supporting local agribusiness, locally-sourced foods are in our cafeterias are marked with a local food sign, stating where the food was grown and how far the food has traveled.
If you are a local grower and have interest in becoming a supplier, please contact the Office for a Healthy Environment at 216.448.8729.
In addition to addressing where our food comes from, Cleveland Clinic maintains a comprehensive vision that aims to improve the patient experience with food. It remains our sincere commitment to improve the healing environment with appropriate and responsible food selection, professional preparation standards and a rigorous dedication to consistency and service.
Cleveland Clinic hosts several farmers markets and farm stands around the system. The Main Campus flagship market, Cleveland Clinic's Community Farmers Market, launched in July 2008 and continues in 2011 for its fourth season, Wednesdays from June 1, 2011 through October 5, 2011. To improve healthy food access in the communities that surround our Main Campus, we engaged our local government to issue special WIC Farmers Market coupons 3 times during the season which significantly boosted neighborhood participation. In 2010, we expanded our effort to improve access by working with North Union Farmers Market Association to accept Ohio food assistance. Each week, market visitors enjoy live music, food samples, and additional offerings from Cleveland Clinic's information booth, such as free health screenings, wellness campaigns, or live cooking demonstrations. Raffle prizes, surveys, and reusable shopping bag giveaways are featured throughout the season.
All food grown at our Farmers Markets originates from around 100 miles of the market, and is sold directly by the farmer. These policies strengthen our local economy and curtail the emissions used in transporting conventionally grown food that, on average, has traveled 1,500 miles to reach your plate. Please join us in celebrating the bounty of our region.
Northeast Ohio has a come together to make a commitment toward a sustainable future and build an economic engine to empower a green city on a blue lake. By 2019, the 50th anniversary of the famous burning river in 1969, we hope to realize this powerful vision and be part of a vibrant, healthy, successful community. Each year, Sustainable Cleveland 2019 (SC2019) has a designated focus to help our citizens and business rally around focused progress. 2012 is the year of Local Foods. This year businesses and communities are focusing on growing and supporting the local food economy. We invite you to learn more about SC2019 and consider making your own local food commitments in 2012. Join us as we engage in a collective effort to help our region fulfill its vision of a green city on a blue lake.