City Harvest: Another Piece of New York’s Food Web

This post is from one of the 18 interns in the Real Time Farms Food Warrior Summer Internship Program. These interns are collecting data, pictures, and video on the growing practices of our nation’s farms, collecting food artisans’ stories, and documenting farmers markets. We all deserve to know where our food comes from!

On Real Time Farms, we document food webs – how food travels from farms, to artisans, to restaurants. In my work as an intern this summer, I have been able to see this connection first-hand. About a week ago, I talked to a farmer from Stokes Farms at the Tribeca Greenmarket. Later that week, I visited Sullivan St Bakery, and found out that they use some of Stokes Farms’ produce in their products. Then, I ate at a restaurant that serves Sullivan St Bakery’s bread.

While at Sullivan St Bakery, I saw all of the fresh ingredients being prepared, and I saw the final bags stuffed with bread with delivery labels on them, waiting to be sent out. What I also saw, in a less noticeable corner of the packing room, were a few large, clear plastic bags filled with bread, with bold, green writing printed on them: “City Harvest.”

Although it sometimes seems like food goes in a one-direction flow from farmer to artisan to restaurant, many farmers and artisans do not actually use all of the produce that they grow or product that they make. So where does it all go?

Many farms and artisans in the New York area donate their extra or unusable product to City Harvest, an organization in New York that aims to rescue food for New York’s hungry.

“Now serving New York City for more than 25 years, City Harvest is the world’s first food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women, and children. This year, City Harvest will collect 28 million pounds of excess food from all segments of the food industry, including restaurants, manufacturers, and farms. This food is then delivered free of charge to nearly 600 community food programs throughout New York City. Each week, City Harvest helps over 300,000 hungry New Yorkers find their next meal. City Harvest also addresses hunger’s underlying causes by supporting affordable access to nutritious food in low-income communities, and channeling a greater amount of local farm food into high-need areas,” writes City Harvest on their website.

Many artisans, farms, and even markets on Real Time Farms take part in the City Harvest program. Sullivan St Bakery and Amy’s Bread donate their bread products. Red Jacket Orchards, which sells apples and fruit juices at various markets in New York City, participates. The Grand Army Plaza greenmarket, which is the second largest market in NYC after Union Square, also takes part.

City Harvest adds another dimension to our food web; the foods produced by farms and artisans are not just going to regular consumers, but also to New York’s hungry. Thanks to this program, less food is wasted, and more people have access to fresh, nutritious food.

Danielle Blake

Summer 2011 NYC Food Warrior Intern

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