Staff of Second Spring Farm at farmers market

What is culinary medicine, anyway?

September 11, 2023 |

Above: Lissa and Antonio, of Second Spring Farm, at farmers market.

“Culinary Medicine” is becoming more relevant in conversations locally and across the United States. With rising chronic disease rates and persisting food insecurity, the 2022 National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health emphasized a need for food as medicine in healthcare. Culinary medicine programs are also growing in the Northern Michigan area. With such relevance around this topic, the following question must be asked: What is culinary medicine and why does it matter?

Culinary medicine is an evidence-informed practice that brings cooking and nutrition into the medical conversation. It also aims to prevent and manage chronic disease based on personal nutritional needs. When it comes to health, both food and nutrition are important pieces of the puzzle. Unfortunately, these topics are sometimes overlooked at the doctor’s office. The goal of culinary medicine is to change this. 

Prescription of culinary medicine can take many forms, including nutrition education or counseling, making food access connections, and even hands-on cooking. Prescriptions are guided by asking questions like “What if instead of lowering blood pressure with medication alone, patients are also brought into the kitchen to learn about heart-healthy meals?” Culinary medicine turns these “what ifs” into possibilities.