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Margaret Brown’s Blog

What's In New York State's Grocery Bag?

Margaret Brown

Posted June 20, 2013 in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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Did you know that New York is among the top 10 states for production of more than 15 different agricultural products? Snap peas, tart cherries, and onions—to name just a few. 

New York state agencies buy significant amounts of food each year, yet we don’t know how much of that food is grown in New York.  In fact, all indicators show that New York grown food is probably a small part of the state’s yearly grocery bill.

This is too bad because greater clarity on agency purchasing practices and a commitment to buy sustainable New York grown food can help expand our agricultural economy and increase the financial viability of New York farmers.

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Fortunately, there is a bill moving quickly in Albany that is a good first step in establishing New York as a leader on local and sustainable food purchasing in just this way. Specifically, Senate Bill 4061 and Assembly Bill 5102 would require state agencies to include information on New York agricultural products in their bids and begin to report the amount of food they’re purchasing from New York.  

This legislation lays the groundwork for setting concrete purchasing targets and incorporating sustainability criteria that could further boost green economic growth, preserve threatened farmland, and improve the health of New Yorkers.

Two years ago, NYC passed a similar bill that created procurement guidelines to encourage city agencies to buy more food from New York—see NRDC NY Director Mark Izeman’s blog.

NRDC supported the city bill and we support this state bill because measuring what food we already buy is an important step in establishing a commitment to purchasing sustainably grown local food.

The state agency bill could very well pass both houses of the Legislature in the next few days and would then be sent to Governor for his signature. Stay tuned for updates!

Update (6/20/13)—The New York State Assembly passed this bill today! And just in time for the end of the legislative session. Having passed the Senate last week, the bill will now be sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature. We’ll keep you up to speed as we find out more!

To stay up-to-date on NRDC New York's food and other work, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also visit our website at www.nrdc.org/newyork.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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