“For the food movement to place unstoppable pressure on policy makers and industrial food producers, it needs a very focused set of goals that emerge from a single root crisis that binds us all. Public Health is that crisis…I believe that all strands of the movement are, at their core, responding to current or potential health threats. Through a strategic focus on improved health, we can lower resistance from those in control of the industrial system and motivate action from the millions of people we need with us…Public health advocates are the food movement’s most important allies.”
Michael Dimock, President, Roots of Change, in “Can Public Health Unite the Good Food Movement?” September 3, 2013, on Civil Eats.
Mayor Bloomberg has become known nationally as a health mayor and NYC overall is a leader in public health issues. The mayor and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have gotten the connection between food and public health and have started or attempted to start some very good, sometimes controversial, initiatives to combat food-related illness and access to healthier food. Much of the Mayor’s focus has been on discouraging the promotion of unhealthy – high fat, sugar, and salt – food, such as requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, banning on trans-fats at restaurants, the City’s National Salt Reduction Initiative, and the recently attempted large soda size ban. These efforts can help nudge people in the right direction, but they’re not the only way to increase healthy food access and change lifestyle choices.
Public health outcomes are not always best accomplished with a top-down, do/don’t approach. Our communities, schools and worksites—the policies, systems and environments in which we live and function from day to day—are often hard to regulate places but have the most direct impact on our ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. Often, much of what we think of as “policy,” meaning government changing rules, is really effecting environmental and systems change, or policy within a broader range of organizations than just the government. Public health can have a large role in creating environments that bring greater access to healthier food and lifestyle choices, with the goal of making them the easy safe and default choice, through policy, systems, and environmental changes made on the community level in partnership with community-based organizations and individuals.
As we told you in our September 18, 2013 post, Food Systems Network NYC is co-hosting an 8-part series on Heritage Radio Network called,“Everything’s on the Table, What’s the Recipe for the Future of Food in NYC,” airing every Thursday, from 2 to 2:45 through November 7. Each episode deals with topics, like the food economy and jobs, urban agriculture, food initiatives for public health, how to deal with urban food waste, and more. Following Food Systems Network NYC’s Recipe for the Future of Food in New York City, the series explores the ingredients needed for better food system, with the goal of putting ”food policy into the hands and minds of every New Yorker.”
NYC Foodscape hosted the fourth episode of the series, called Food, Community and Public Health, on Thursday, October 10, 2013. Here’s Heritage Radio Network’s description of the episode:
“This week on Everything’s On the Table, Erin Fairbanks talks public health with guest co-host Carolyn Zezima, President of NYC Foodscape. Tune in as Erin and Carolyn sit down with Devin Madden of The Partnership for a Healthier Manhattan. Tune in to learn about Devin’s work fighting against the prevalence of chronic disease through an increased awareness of healthy food options. Hear how community youth canvassers fought for healthier grocery stores in neighborhoods across the borough! Later, Erin and Carolyn take on school lunch with Deborah Lewison Grant, co-Executive Director of FoodFight. Hear how FoodFight aims to promote health in schools by looking at the school as a unit, including the habits of its faculty and staff. Find out how concerned parent Bruce Simon sees school lunch menus in the future! Finally, Martiza Owens of Harvest Homes Farmer’s Market joins the conversation and discusses how extreme need in the South Bronx inspired her to bring fresh produce to her neighborhood. Nutrition consultant Loyce Godfrey talks about her work with Maritza, and how her Eating for Good Health workshop provides not only fresh food, but necessary nutrition education. This program has been sponsored by HeritageRadioNetwork.org. Thanks to EULA for today’s music.”
To listen to the episode and download an MP3, visit Heritage Radio’s Web Site.