Foodshed Alliance Publishes Regional Foodshed Resiliency Plan

PlanDesignR1.pubIn November 2014, an op-ed piece appeared in the Washington Post calling for a national food policy saying it could “save millions of American lives.” Written by prominent food activists Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter, the article said it is time to begin building a food system that will ensure access to green, fair, nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. A National Food Policy would coordinate government resources to guarantee that:

  • all Americans have access to healthful food;
  • farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
  • our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;
  • production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
  • the food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
  • food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
  • animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
  • the food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
  • the food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.

What was called for at the national level is happening around the country at state, regional and local levels. A handful of states are developing food charters and scores of U.S. cities have established food policy councils. Mexico, Brazil and other countries have developed national food policies leading to important reforms.

There is a need in New Jersey for a coordinated effort between the public, private and nonprofit sectors to build a food system that will ensure access to green, fair, nutritious, affordable food for all. This can be accomplished by having all stakeholders in the farming and food sectors working together to set priorities, goals and action plans.

Thanks to the generous funding of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Foodshed Alliance did a year-long assessment of the northern New Jersey food system. The study area included the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren and including a mapping of the food-production assets (farms and farmers’ markets).

The study included identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the local food system. This result is this Regional Foodshed Resiliency Plan. The plan includes goals for strengthening the food system, and outlines the creation of an implementation plan.

We invite the many, many food-system stakeholders to come together to strengthen the northern New Jersey food system, and to work to create a food system that is just and fair, builds strong and resilient communities, promotes vibrant and healthy farms, promotes healthy people, supports a sustainable ecosystem, and promotes thriving local economies. Working together to incorporate these values into a healthy food system will benefit us all.