Monday, August 31, 2009

NYC Leads Way in Developing Local Food Production and Distribution

by Paul McGinniss

“If we can have a fast food restaurant on almost every corner, then we can certainly have a garden."
NYC Council member, Bill de Blasio

The average New Yorker and visitor to New York City might not realize it, but NYC already has 87 farmers markets and 82 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs throughout the five boroughs. For a city of many millions of people, this might seem a drop in the farm bucket and not really that much urban agriculture. But, watch out all you doubting locavores, because with the citywide initiative called the NYC Foodprint Alliance, the Big Apple is poised to become a leader in developing urban agriculture, local food production and distribution.

The NYC Foodprint Alliance is a multi-organizational effort that includes the
New York City Community Gardens Coalition, New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, Sierra Club New York City, and Slow Food USA. The NYC Foodprint idea builds upon Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's 2006 Plan NYC which aims to reduce NYC's carbon footprint and create a more sustainable New York, but did not specifically address urban agriculture and local food production.

In June 2009, the NYC Foodprint Alliance helped introduce a resolution to the New York City Council called "Foodprint NYC" which calls for the immediate implementation of the recommendations in the report “Food in the Public Interest" by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. These initiatives address our city's "foodprint"—our food system's carbon footprint and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. In addition to addressing NYC’s food carbon footprint, the Foodprint Alliance and its resolution will foster greater access to local, fresh, healthy food, especially in low-income communities as well as city-run institutions.

The Foodprint NYC resolution, as of August 2009, had the support of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and 23 of the 50 NYC Council Members.

Do We Really Have to Worry About Our Food Carbon Footprint i.e. Foodprint?

It may seem somewhat of an eco overkill to worry about one's food carbon footprint i.e. "foodprint", but not when you know the facts. According to the "Agricultural Role on Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Report", conducted by the Pew Center on Climate Control, it is estimated that, globally, one-third of all green house gas (GHG) emissions comes from agriculture and land use changes. And, approximately 12% of the total GHG emissions per U.S. household result from growing, packing, preparing and shipping food nationwide.

New York Reaches Out to Rest of America

Foodprint NYC has reached out across America and started Foodprint USA which aims to be a resource network to create local urban food systems which simultaneously cut down on a city's carbon footprint and provide healthy, affordable locally grown produce. The goal of Foodprint USA is: "to reduce our climate "foodprints" ~ our food system's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change through the production, processing, packaging, shipping, storage and disposal of food."

Foodprint USA already includes the cities of Chicago and Birmingham. Anyone wanting to add a city or learn more should contact Nadia Johnson at Just Food in NYC. Just Food was one of the founding members of the NYC Foodprint Alliance.

For a small taste of what's to come in NYC's great buffet of urban agriculture, check out the video below by Mike Lieberman at The Urban Organic Gardener in Brooklyn, NYC.

Copyright 2009 Paul McGinniss

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