New York is known for being one of the most diverse culinary melting pots in the world with everything from Tibetan momos to Ethiopian injera to be found just a subway ride away. And while exotic ingredients may tantalize our tastebuds, recent disasters like Hurricane Sandy have highlighted how little of what we eat is actually produced locally, and why that might pose a danger going forward. But could we grow all of our own food if we wanted to? The Smithsonian recently asked the question in a new article and found the theoretical answer to be somewhat optimistic.
The museum magazine pointed to a 65,000-square-foot rooftop farm on the no. 3 warehouse building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Called Brooklyn Grange, the facility is known as the largest of its kind and has already sold 40,000 pounds of its produce so far. But despite this bountiful harvest of local greens, it’s only a tiny 0.00007-percent margin compared to the 28.6 million tons of food that comes through New York per year as stated in a 2010 report from the Mayor’s office.
Growing food locally is not only better for the environment than shipping them across the country, it’s also a safer bet when we know that our roads are susceptible during hurricanes and blizzards. But even one of New York’s most famous food markets, the New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point, pulls most of its share of goods from outside of the Tri-State area. OnEarth discovered that only 12-percent of the food comes from New Jersey and local farmers have had to fight the city and national companies for what little access they already have.
Despite current conditions, the article references the writing of architect Michael Sorkin, who studied the possibilities of the city becoming self-reliant in the future. “We discovered that it is in fact technically feasible to produce 2,500 nutritious calories a day for everyone in the city,” Sorkin writes. Even though we’re taking baby steps at this point, the local food trend has pushed us in the right direction with other rooftop farms popping up as well as community gardens, green thumb sites and farmers markets across the city.