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Study: Health Care Costs Can Be Lowered by Offering Employees a Share in a Local Harvest

Charles Bertram
Lexington Herald-Leader

A program in Kentucky could be used as a template for how to improve rural health care costs nationwide, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A new initiative by the University of Kentucky has found that offering employees a share in a local farm harvest could impact health care costs.

Last year agriculture marketing professor Tim Woods asked a couple of simple questions: If people were offered a voucher to buy a share in a local community supported agriculture program, would they do it? And would it make any difference in their health? His pilot project, called Bluegrass Harvest, had employers offer a perk along with their regular pay. That perk was a $200 voucher for employees to use for a share in a community supported agriculture program, or CSA.

Woods signed up 95 people who had never participated in a CSA before and then surveyed them on specific lifestyle changes. As a result, participants reported that they ate in restaurants less, ate less often in their car, and ate fewer processed snack foods and fewer processed foods for meals.