Local food-policy wonks were scratching their heads this weekend at a New York Times report that the City Council has passed a “Green Food Resolution.” The news, it turned out, was premature — the nonbinding resolution, introduced by 39th ward alderman Margaret Laurino — hasn’t passed, it’s just in committee. But its provenance is still sort of mystifying.
Background: this spring I worked for a bit as a contributing writer and editor for a report on the regional food system commissioned by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Go To 2040 initiative. The lead authors of the report were the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council and the city’s Dept. of Zoning and Land Use Planning — and a sweeping coalition of regional experts on food, farming, and urban agriculture backed these folks up as coauthors and consultants — the final contributors’ list includes just about anyone with their finger in any piece of the local-food pie.
The report, which wraps up with extensive recommendations as to how regional agencies might move forward to build an environmentally and economically sustainable local food system, does not appear to have not been published yet, but the executive summary is here .
So, how come this “Green Food Resolution” came as (apparently) a total surprise to the brigades of active, mobilized people like these, who’ve been working on local food issues in Chicago for years?
I left a message with Alderman Laurino’s office asking for more info; the woman who answered the phone said that the staffer running point on this was out today, but would call me back.
According to the NYT, the resolution “urges the city to make healthy, locally grown food more available to Chicago residents.” Nothing wrong with that, right? Local food: yay! Factory farms: nay!
Boilerplate language on their web site reads as follows:
Draft Green Food Resolution for City of ______
Whereas, the City of _____ strives to be a Green City that promotes lifestyles that are ecologically sustainable; and
Whereas, food and farming systems have significant impacts on our health and the ecological wellbeing of our planet; and
Whereas, there is growing popular concern about problems associated with industrialized animal agriculture, including environmental destruction, threats to consumer health and rural communities, and the inhumane treatment of animals; and
Whereas, plant-based foods have been shown to be healthful and nutritious; and
Whereas, shifting toward plant based agriculture can help to lighten our footprint on the planet; therefore
RESOLVED that the ______ City Council encourages individuals, institutions and businesses to provide more plant-based foods, especially those grown locally and organically; and
RESOLVED that the ______ Council promotes expansions of the number of Farmers’ Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, Community Gardens, and other venues for providing healthful plant-based foods, and encourages food retailers to offer more plant-based options.
So, there you have it. Is this “Green Food Resolution” simply the latest salvo in a well-organized, well-funded campaign to promote vegetarianism (or, “plant-based foods”), this time tricked out with local-food lingo?
Hell if I know. But I’m trying to find out more.
UPDATE: Here’s the text of the Chicago resolution. (pdf)