Monday, April 15, 2024

New York to Track Residents’ Food Purchases and Place “Caps on Meat” Served by Public Institutions

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2012

by Brenda Baletti, Ph.D., The Defender, Activist Post:

New York City will begin tracking the carbon footprint of household food consumption and putting caps on how much red meat can be served in public institutions as part of a sweeping initiative to achieve a 33% reduction in carbon emissions from food by 2030.

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Mayor Eric Adams and representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy and Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice announced the new programs last month at a Brooklyn culinary center run by NYC Health + Hospitals, the city’s public healthcare system, just before Earth Day.

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At the event, the Mayor’s Office -f Climate & Environmental Justice shared a new chart to be included in the city’s annual greenhouse gas inventory that publicly tracks the carbon footprint created by household food consumption, the Gothamist reported.

The city already produced emissions data from energy use, transportation and waste as part of the annual inventory. But the addition of household food consumption data is part of a partnership that London and New York launched with American Express, C40 Cities and EcoData lab, Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection announced at the event.

Aggarwala — who founded Google smart city subsidiary Sidewalk Labs — celebrated the expanded data collection as forging “a new standard for what cities have to do” and a new way to shape policy.

He said the inventory also will measure greenhouse gas pollution from the production and consumption of other consumer goods like apparel, whether or not those items are made in New York City. It also tracks emissions tied to services like air travel and healthcare.

But Adams’ presentation at the event focused on food consumption, particularly meat and dairy.

“Food is the third-biggest source of cities’ emissions right after buildings and transportation,” Adams said. “But all food is not created equal. The vast majority of food that is contributing to our emission crises lies in meat and dairy products.”

He added:

“It is easy to talk about the emissions that’s coming from buildings and how it impacts our environment, but we now have to talk about beef. And I don’t know if people are ready for this conversation.”

Adams — a vegan who, according to a whistleblower, also eats fish, credits his “plant-based diet” for his recovery from diabetes. He is the author of “Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses,” a vegan cookbook.

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Adams claims that changing New Yorkers’ eating habits will have both climate and health benefits. He said:

“We already know that a plant-powered diet is better for your physical and mental health, and I am living proof of that. But the reality is that thanks to this new inventory, we’re finding out it is better for the planet.”

But agricultural economists and regenerative farmers say that calculation isn’t actually that simple.

“Different meats have different kinds of greenhouse gas footprints” because of differences in the production systems and “all land is not created equal” Melissa McKendree, Ph.D., an agricultural economist at Michigan State University, told The Defender.

Land that is suitable for cattle production, such as rangeland and pasture, often isn’t suitable for other types of agriculture, and vice versa. And all of those different ecosystems for different plants and animals, when working well, work together to create a healthy ecosystem.

Alternative grazing systems, like the regenerative agricultural systems that McKendree researches, make it possible for pasture-raised beef “to sequester carbon, and to become a carbon sink” — actually reducing the greenhouse gas footprint of food production rather than adding to it.

Regenerative livestock farmer Will Harris told The Defender, “As a practitioner who has been regenerating depleted land for 30+ years I can tell you that regenerating land is about restarting the cycles of nature that have been broken by industrial farming — and restarting those cycles cannot be done cost effectively without animal impact.”

He continued:

“All ecosystems evolved with certain kinds of animal impact and to say we’ve misused technologies to break these cycles of nature and we are going to start them back by leaving out this essential ingredient that has been around for millennia is wrong.

“Sadly there is a percentage of the populace that for whatever reason has decided that animals in the ecosystem are bad and the way to have a healthier planet is to give up that animal impact.

“Many of us have proven that there is benefit, ecological benefit to having animal impact in the equation. It has to be done right, but when it is done right there is an ecological benefit, an ecological service that we provide.

“But this sector of society is so committed to the vegetarian vegan solution, that it doesn’t matter what we demonstrate, they are going to paint us with that same brush.

“They drown out our voices by screaming the same misapplied science over and over and over.”

Organization behind 15-minute city is mapping consumption-based emissions for New York and London

The partnership between American Express, New York, London and C40 Cities to map urban emissions was formally launched last week in a C40 press release. The groups will map the consumption-based emissions of both New York and London.

The press release does not make the purpose of emissions mapping inventories explicit. It simply states the inventories “will enable London and New York City to develop a suite of actions to incentivise more sustainable consumption in collaboration with people and businesses.”

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