Saturday, December 5, 2009

NYC Food and Climate Summit

In case you haven't heard yet, next Saturday, Dec. 12, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Just Food, and NYU will be hosting the NYC Food and Climate Summit. We are even lucky enough to be having HEN as a co-sponsor of the event, since HEN agreed to be a main contributor to making video messages possible from Vandana Shiva and Wangari Mathaai which will be shown at the plenary session and uploaded to websites afterward. The Food and Climate Summit will be happening smack in the middle of the Copenhagen (or "Hopenhagen") climate talks. It will even be held the day after 350 holds candlelit "Vigils for Survival" all across the world (these are on Dec. 11 - find one near you). In NYC, there will be one in Washington Square Park from 5-6 pm and one at Chelsea Piers from 6-8pm.

The Summit's registration was full within 36 hours of opening, which shows that it is guaranteed to be a successful event. Fortunately, as much information as possible from the conference will be posted to the conference website.

It is so important that NYC is making the connection between food and climate change, because food and climate change are so inextricably connected and it is not receiving enough attention on the global or even national scales in terms of climate change talk. Yes, Oxfam, tcktcktck, and 350, among other organizations, have been doing a great job of promoting the urgency of demanding action from our world leaders (such as limiting CO2 emissions to 350 ppm) - but as far as I can see there is not much talk here about agriculture. There are several main reasons to connect food and climate change. First of all, climate change is devastating developing countries' ability to produce crops on their own, leading to there being over a billion hungry people in the world. Climate change hits developing countries far greater than it impacts countries like the US (see some of my previous posts on Oxfam).

Second of all, producing "food" is a big contributor to climate change. If you've read Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, seen Food, Inc., FRESH, King Corn, or know anything else about the sustainable, local, organic, and/or slow food movements - then you might have an idea about the gravity of unsustainable agriculture and how it is contributing to health problems, economic problems, climate change, etc. The fact that it takes 1,500 gallons of water to make one pound of beef...that is not good for the environment or our health. Monocultures are sprayed with pesticides and chemicals that make it really easy for resistant strains of bacteria to develop. Subsidies for corn and soy given to farmers are used to feed cattle and pigs with ground meat and corn. ...These are the things that contribute to the artificially low cost of unhealthy food (artificially because we do pay - later on, that is, in the form of healthcare costs).

All that stuff is unsustainable. As Michael Pollan & Joel Salatin put it, we are taking a solution - grass-fed cattle - and turning it into 2 problems: 1) unsustainable CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations, where animals standing in their own manure only leads to bacterial infections and other diseases), and 2) nutrient-deprived farmland that needs to be sprayed with chemicals and harmful fertilizers (because it doesn't have the beneficial nutrients from manure).

Sign the NYC Food Pledge & Charter

Below are the session topics for the Summit next week. Visit here for more details. (And don't forget to check out the wonderful Partnering Organizations!) Be sure to help spread the word using facebook and twitter (@nycfoodclimate) Please use the hashtags #nycfoodclimate, #cop15, and #tcktcktck on twitter. Thanks!

Informational
Session 1: Introduction to Food and Climate Issues

Skills Building
Session 2: Faith-Rooted Climate and Food Justice Organizing
Session 3: Best Practices in Institutional Purchasing
Session 4: Tackle Hunger, Health and Environment in Your Community
Session 5: Grow Food in the Big Apple
Session 6: Cool Food on a Budget: Good Diet for People, Pocketbooks and Planet.
Session 7: Cool Food Demonstration: Preservation Without Refrigeration
Session 8: Composting Your Food Waste
Session 9: What’s at Steak: Tips for Talking about Animal Food and Climate Change Connections
Session 10: How to Mobilize around Food and Climate Change Issues

Public Policy
Session 11: Urban Agriculture: Community Gardens, Urban Farms, and More
Session 12: The Food Shed: Promoting Sustainable Local Agriculture
Session 13: Greening Food Infrastructure
Session 14: Setting an Agenda for Child Nutrition, School Food and Food Education
Session 15: From Farm to Landfill: Reducing Food Waste in New York City

Informational
Session 16: Understanding Your Foodprint

Skills Builder

Session 17: Cooking Up Climate-Friendly Change: Youth Lead the Good Food Movement
Session 18: Tackle Hunger, Health and Environment in Your Community
Session 19: Grow Food in the Big Apple
Session 20: Cool Food on a Budget: Good Diet for People, Pocketbooks and Planet
Session 21: Cool Food Demonstration: Preservation Without Refrigeration
Session 22: Composting Your Food Waste
Session 23: What’s at Steak: Tips for Talking about Animal Food and Climate Change Connections
Session 24: How to Mobilize around Food and Climate Change Issues

Public Policy
Session 25: Urban Agriculture: Roofs, Walls, and Other Under-Utilized Spaces
Session 26: The Food Shed: Harnessing New Yorkers’ Buying Power
Session 27: Institutional Procurement: Buy Local and Sustainable
Session 28: The Food-Collar Economy
Session 29: Structural Discrimination Related to Food and Climate Change

3 comments:

Alberto Gonzalez said...

Thanks a lot for all this information!
I just signed to be in the waiting list for the NYC F&C Summit.
I am the founder and CEO of GustOrganics. (first 100% certified organic restaurant in the world) We truly need this debate and as much initiatives we can have on this subject. We need people to start thinking before eating!
We either change our consumption habits towards a more local and organic way or we are going to wind up even sicker and with a totally depleted environment!
Remember, “we are what we eat” and “we shape the world by what we eat”

Jessica said...

Hey, saw your comment on 350 fb. Like many others I went to register as soon as I got the note and it was already full! Its going to be an awakening. I volunteer with NYS Sierra Club (atlantic chapter) and our vegetarian outreach committee has been doing steady outreach on this. I would love to network on this issue in the NY region in the future.

Lisa said...

Hi! I'll be there on Saturday. Really looking forward to it and hope to learn a lot. It's definitely important for people to recognize the connection.