Tuesday, January 29, 2008

City Food Policy

As a segue to our previous post it looks as if the city, under the direction of Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Food Czar Ben Thomasses, is about to create a task force on food policy. The first order of business should be to begin to reconcile the city's developing food policy with its health-based efforts.

As we have been saying, the health-based policy has been contrapuntal to the health of the local food businesses. There needs to be a greater awareness of the business challenges, and an understanding that enhancing the strength of neighborhood food stores and restaurants, and of their distributors, needs to be melded to the goal of a healthier citizenry.

This cannot be done, however, if the city remains ignorant or uncaring about the businesses and their needs. One salient example; if the city wants to promote a "Healthy Bodega" program, a policy to encourage grocery stores to carry more fresh produce, then it can't simultaneously flood these bodega neighborhoods with produce peddlers. It's counter productive.

The primary goal, it seems to us, is to collaborate as much as possible with the key food industry stakeholders, and develop a food/health policy that is both good for health and good for the health of the city's neighborhood economies.