NYC Food Policy Center February 2023 Food Flash

by Emily Solomon

A roundup of food policy topics

What’s Hot: Ohio Derailment Impact on Food and Health

This past month a train carrying large quantities of flammable toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. In the aftermath of the accident, local residents were advised to evacuate the area because the burning chemicals were sending toxic fumes into the air. 

Now, almost two weeks later, authorities are concerned about the impact the crash may have on our food system. Most recent reports indicated that the disaster had killed almost 3,500 fish in nearby streams. Additionally, experts reported that while any potentially-released carcinogens that had been killed off by sunlight did not enter the soil, the drinking water had been contaminated. But they also  suggested that the water would  be diluted over time and could also be filtered at local water-treatment facilities.

Despite these reassurances, however, Erik D. Olson, the senior strategic director for health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council says that there will be lingering long-term effects. 

Quote of the Month: 

I was thinking about how much wild rice has declined and been lost from so many places, but here I was in the middle of it. It felt like one of the most special experiences I would ever have.

Crystal Ng, University of Minnesota Professor.

Crystal Ng won a grant to study wild rice in Ojibwe waters. While she experienced backlash from tribal members at first, she spent a year connecting with the community and now works with Joe Graveen, a tribal wild rice technician. Her story paints a picture of how modern researchers have included Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) as their framework for studying agriculture. 

Food Policy Watchdog: Real reasons for skyrocketing price of eggs

By February, the price of eggs had skyrocketed by almost 49 percent within the past year. The primary reason for this was the bird flu, which wiped out millions of egg-laying hens in 2022–the deadliest outbreak of the Avian flu in U.S history, and while the flu caused a major reduction in supply, the demand for eggs continued to increase

As prices have not yet gone down, consumers have pivoted to egg alternatives to help reduce costs. Some folks have attempted to raise their own chickens, and even to smuggle eggs from Mexico. 

These attempts have not been successful. 

Fact Check: 21 More locations coming to New York City through the FRESH Program

The FRESH Program has incentivized property owners to open healthy supermarkets in 30 more under-resourced communities throughout all five boroughs of New York City. The goal of the FRESH program is “to build fresh-food grocery stores in communities identified as underserved, or having inadequate grocery-store square footage for the population or no fresh food options within a comfortable walking distance. In exchange, owners can construct a building slightly larger than typically permitted by zoning and provide less parking than normally required for a grocery store.” And they may also receive tax breaks. 

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