Environmentally friendly food practices are all the rage these days â€” from organic farming at the White House to cooking manure to harness energy from methane gases â€” but is there a need to codify it into government policy?
Across the country, local government officials are proposing â€œgreen food resolutionsâ€ â€” partially at the behest of a campaign run by Farm Sanctuary, a farm-animal protection organization.
This week, Chicago moved forward on an effort to pass a green food resolution by hearing testimony in committee. Although the resolution is nonbinding, it urges the city to make healthy, locally grown food more available to Chicago residents.
A similar bill calling for the creation of a FoodprintNYC has been proposed by Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn councilman who is running for public advocate. The bill would encourage the cityâ€™s various agencies to coordinate and establish climate-friendly food policies and programs, as well as a public awareness campaign about the health and environmental impact of food. It draws heavily from recommendations in a report, â€œFood in the Public Interest,â€ [pdf] by the office of the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer.
â€œThe resolution in New York City actually goes a lot further,â€ said Delcianna Winders, director of legal campaigns for Farm Sanctuary.
Mr. de Blasio said his vision was that everything from the Board of Education to the Housing Authority to the health department would focus on sustainable food â€” whether it worked through purchasing decisions or building green roofs on city buildings.
Of course, there have already been policies on healthy food in recent years â€” most notably through the health department, which has encouraged produce vendors in poor communities and also enacted a ban on trans fats.
â€œI think the most charitable interpretation is that we have a scattered approach,â€ Mr. de Blasio said. But he noted that the city could influence decisions. The Board of Education, for example, feeds a million students, in some cases multiple times in a day. In addition, the city controls housing for half a million people through the Housing Authority. â€œWhen you add it up, it can really have an impact, and it could start a trend all over the country,â€ he said.
The bill is backed by a coalition that terms itself the NYC Foodprint Alliance, which includes Just Food, Sierra Club New York City Group, Farm Sanctuary, Slow Food USA and Eating Liberally, among others.
The bill, as it stands, is more encouragement than formal policy. â€œItâ€™s not binding, but it is trying to establish a goal,â€ Mr. de Blasio said. â€œThe next step is binding across purchasing power and other steps.â€
Source: Jennifer B. Lee, NYTimes, July 23, 2009