Food in the City

The San Francisco Food Policy, proposed earlier this year by the Mayor as a way to bring healthy, sustainable food to residents from nearby rural zones, should be completed in the first months of 2009. Aiming to decrease reliance on imported food and create stronger ties between local farms and their immediate market, the policy will only apply to San Francisco but it is hoped that it will become a model for governments across the entire Bay Area.

Food experts from all over California have been meeting over the past two months to devise ways to connect the Bay Area to its regional “foodshed” – the 100 to 200 mile radius of farmland around San Francisco – as well as investigating the potential for new rural-urban partnerships for alternative-energy production and water conservation.

‘We have a food system right now where the primary driver has been low price. The quality of food and the safety and source of food, those have only become part of the mix in recent years,’ said Michael Dimock, executive director of Roots of Change, a foundation which is working to create a sustainable food system in California, and Chair Emeritus of Slow Food USA.

The food policy working group – named the Urban-Rural Roundtable – is split into four areas: rural agriculture, focused on the needs of regional farmers; food access, to look at bringing regional food to the cities; environmental quality, including land preservation and healthy agricultural practices; and regional culture and identity, focused on creating a Bay Area food brand, taking into account historical and cultural land use.

Meanwhile, on November 20, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer hosted a conference entitled The Politics of Food, bringing together hundreds of urban farmers, nutritionists, sustainable food advocates, policy advisers, urban planners and government representatives from New York. Among the speakers was Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who discussed the importance of protecting the health of the city’s citizens.

In Stringer’s closing remarks to the conference, he commented: ‘It is my hope that New York can become a model for other cities in land use, including sustainable urban gardening, in providing good school and hospital food, in creating equal opportunities for access to vegetables and in nutrition education and inspiring people to cook again. While the process has been bottom up until now, maybe with better policy-making, we can meet with city government somewhere in the middle.’

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Bess Mucke
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