Monday, February 22, 2010

Highlights from FoodNYC: Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System

Just a few days ago, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer released “FoodNYC: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System,” an effort to date to unify and reform New York City’s policies regarding the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of food.

The report (PDF), a product of the NYC Food & Climate Summit held at NYU in December in partnership with the non-profit Just Food, outlines a package of proposals intended to "make our food system more sustainable by prioritizing products from New York State, increasing access to healthy food in underserved neighborhoods, and expanding the food economy."
Since NYC is just over 200 miles away from Ithaca, it's worth seeing what they have in mind for connecting with upstate farmers.  Specifically, one suggested goal is to "promote and support regional agriculture by connecting upstate and Long Island farms with downstate consumers, and by mapping the food grown and sourced from the region within approximately 200 miles of New York City."  This is broken down into three objectives: 1) Determine the Capacity of the Regional Foodshed 2) Develop a State Strategy for Farmland and Food Production and 3) Accelerate the Protection of New York’s Farmland 

NYC an untapped market for upstate farm products?
"With 36,600 farms covering seven million acres, no one can dispute that New York is an agricultural state. Yet, despite their proximity to the largest city in the U.S., many New York State farms struggle to find a market for their goods.25 The disconnect between cities and their surrounding farmland is not unique to New York.2 The large volume of food that can be inexpensively produced and transported from overseas has made it difficult for small and mid-sized regional farms to survive.26 As a result, local farmers struggle to be profitable, food safety has been threatened, and more of our food remains in storage and in transit for extended periods of time, increasing its packaging and preservatives and reducing its nutrient value.

"The opportunity here is that regional farms will prosper if there is demand for their products – and our city of eight million is undoubtedly a sizable market. A recent study showed that the unmet demand among New York City food retailers, restaurants, and distributors for locally grown produce is “$649 million; for local meat and poultry $48 million; for local eggs and dairy $44 million” and “for local plants and flowers . . . $126 million.”27 "

Specific opportunities for government purchasing?

"Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are fed daily by publicly-funded schools, hospitals, senior centers, homeless shelters, and jails. New York City does not, however, use its expansive buying power to support local farmers or producers, passing up a significant opportunity to drive the regional economy and attract fresh healthy food. This can be changed by amending City procurement requirements to promote local sourcing. “Local” is defined as food products grown, raised or processed by state residents or businesses located within the borders of New York State."

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1 comment:

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