What food producers, distributors, farmers and restaurants are hoping 2013 will bring.
Maybe not everyone can launch a commercial farming project at the scale that we have done, but everyone should grow something wherever they are, whether it’s herbs on a windowsill or sprouts in a jar.
One thing we would love to see take shape are more municipal or large-scale composting programs. Americans throw away 40% of our food! If we were to adopt composting programs across the country, we could reduce landfills by up to 40% while cutting down on the use of chemical fertilizers and at the same time repairing some of the damage their use has inflicted on our planet’s ecological health.
We work with a wonderful non-profit organization called Western Queens Compost Initiative, which has created an active composting network amongst restaurants and citizens in our community, connecting their food scraps with farms and community gardens which cherish it as black gold. The work they do is hard but crucial and we wish there were more projects like theirs out there!
Anastasia Plakias, Brooklyn Grange
I think people need to understand what the true cost of food is, that most conventional products are subsidized in some way and that these products aren’t necessarily good for you in the long term. I think it takes education and…getting governmental agencies and the public to understand that there is a reason that we are producing organic and sustainable products and to be supportive of those types of systems.
Albert Straus, Straus Family Creamery
First we need to get more programs like WIC [a US government food subsidy for women with infant children] and Food Stamps into our farmers markets and think of other more creative ways to get fresh foods into food deserts (or low-income neighborhoods), like mobile markets, to make good food more accessible to everyone. Then, we need more programs to teach people how to cook. It’s very sad that many people today do not know how to cook fresh food or think they don’t have the time.
Abby Artemisia, Carriage House Farm
Most sustainable unprocessed foods are frowned upon by the FDA. They love processed long shelf life junk. Realign food regulation and move it completely away from the FDA and under the USDA. At least then we would have a fighting chance to regulate foods and not have our medical claims for food made into drug [medical claims judged by the same standards of proof as drugs] by the FDA. This is a serious challenge for healing foods.
Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures
Restaurants and food producers
A personal mission that I have for 2013 is to keep increasing the amount of certified organic vegetables and herbs that we grow on our rooftop and sidewalk farms at Uncommon Ground. In 2012, we exceeded 1,000! By doing this, I hope to create community-wide awareness about local, organic and sustainable food and the importance of knowing where your food comes from.
Helen Cameron, Uncommon Ground
We recently started a bar menu at The Grey Plume—everything is $12 and under. We hope this perks many guests’ interest. On a different note, we have been donated a piece of land not too far from the restaurant which we hope to do a community garden on—really looking forward to it!
Clayton Chapman, The Grey Plume
Tax breaks and incentives for small farmers. Family farms and small businesses should be carved out of impending rise in the estate tax. This would encourage long term investment and would keep farms from having to be sold to developers to pay the tax man. It’s a really big deal. I am surprised more people are not talking about it.
Steven Grasse, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
I think if people just continuing to break food habits and explore different seasonal foods…if as a culture we become more aligned with what’s in season and if restaurants and markets continue to promote seasons then I think that would help local food.
One of the phrases that I use is ‘celebrate the season.’ I know it’s semi-generic and simple but it’s true because we always love to celebrate the season. The more that we do that as retailers and as restaurants then I think there will be a higher demand for local, seasonal produce. And if there’s a higher demand, there will be more farmers switching their farming practices in order to supply.
Simon Richard, Bi-Rite Market