You are what you eat.

And if the gas industry has its way in New York, you’ll have to be careful where your next meal comes from.

As my colleague Kate Sinding has written extensively, the state is facing a looming environmental threat from natural gas extraction via a technique called hydraulic fracturing -- or “fracking” -- in which dangerous chemicals are mixed with large quantities of water and sand and pumped deep into the ground at extremely high pressure.

And a superb new HBO documentary, Gasland tells the stories of those people whose lives have been changed forever by gas fracking in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and around the country.

While contamination of drinking water is perhaps the biggest concern from wide-scale fracking, an issue that has gotten less attention is what gas drilling can do to the character of rural areas.

As we have seen in nearby Dimock, Pennsylvania, and other communities, the result of fracking is no less than a sudden industrialization of the landscape – with roads becoming overrun by large trucks spewing diesel fumes, well operations releasing toxic air pollutants and massive gas rigs towering over homes and playgrounds.   

Add to this frightening fracking list the threat of destroying farmland and our region’s “foodshed.”

As an important new blog just posted on New York Times’ columnist Mark Bittman’s website highlights, gas drilling could severely undercut efforts to expand sustainable agriculture and farming in many communities around New York. 

Indeed, one well-known organic farmer in the Catskills, Ken Jaffe, believes that his own farm will not be able to survive if gas drilling occurs in that area.  And Jaffee warns that if allowed to proceed, the gas industry “will pollute the air and water of a large region that represents most of New York State’s food shed, directly threatening the agricultural base that you rely upon for your food.” 

Fracking operations – with its toxic brew – not only have the potential to contaminate the drinking water given to cattle and other livestock, but may also leak into pastures where animals graze.  Just this month, the USDA quarantined 28 cattle in Pennsylvania, claiming that the animals may have consumed contaminated wastewater that had leaked from a holding pond for a gas well on the property.  Many other Pennsylvania farmers have also talked about the dramatic effects contaminated water has had on their livestock – including deformities and illnesses.

Unfortunately, some of the damage done to farms in Pennsylvania is irreversible – farmers have already reportedly lost livestock, pastureland, and the very character of their ancestral lands.

But it is not too late for New Yorkers to fight to protect their “foodsheds” from a similar fate.

Please help NRDC and others in this battle by taking action to tell New York legislative leaders to slow down and suspend any new drilling until the risks to state’s drinking water, air quality – as well as its valuable agricultural lands – have been properly examined.

Your next meal may depend on it.