What NYC Can Do to Contribute to a Better Food System

Last week, six of the major candidates in the race for New York City Mayor gathered at The New School to speak about a topic that's relatively new to the city’s political scene: food.

The event was hosted by a diverse group of organizations concerned about food issues, including the NRDC Action Fund, which is separate from NRDC and engages in political advocacy. The lively event drew more than 2000 community members online and in the audience, all looking forward to hearing the candidates’ positions on sustainability, hunger, food access, health, and farming.

The food movement has been incredible for its energy and its ability to bring together such diverse stakeholders, including those focused on the environment, public health, hunger/poverty and economic development. Food, after all, is an issue everyone can relate to, and it seems we’re all hungry for change.

As for environmentalists working on food issues, it’s important that we speak with a strong voice on the critical nature of minimizing our broken food system’s public health and environmental impacts.

In that vein, I’d like to make the following food-related recommendations to the next mayor:

  • Continue and expand on the efforts made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to improve environmental education and the sustainability of NYC’s food system, including support for urban agriculture and best agricultural practices in our watershed.
  • Minimize food waste and its climate impacts by scaling up the city’s curbside and school composting programs and encouraging other anti-waste efforts, such as expiration label reform and the Food Waste Challenge.
  • Support farmland preservation and greater economic development among our regional farmers by ensuring a wholesale farmers’ market for the city.
  • Use the City’s immense institutional purchasing power to promote sustainable agriculture through targeted procurement of good food, including products grown organically or using other earth-friendly methods.

Let’s hope the good ideas expressed at the forum weren’t just talk, and that NYC’s next mayor moves forward with a food plan that we can all relish.