Sunday, October 13, 2019

Good Food Cities

At a time when the US federal government has chosen to squander humanity's future by not only denying climate change but relaxing industry standards and promoting anti-climate policies, thank goodness for the US cities and states that are responding to concerned Americans by taking decisive action on climate issues -- and shrugging off federal threats to penalize them for taking such actions.  As these local leaders recognize, federal denial cannot change the reality of what is happening on the ground.

Still, given the stakes, more US cities need to show even more leadership in this arena.  

At the C40 climate summit in Copenhagen last week, fourteen members of the C40 global climate cities group pledged to adopt sustainable food policies as a component of combating climate change.  The Good Food Cities Declaration commits mayors to use their procurement authority to promote sustainable sourcing of delicious, healthy, low carbon, affordable, and (did we mention this before?) delicious food for their communities over the next decade.

Specifically, the Declaration calls for the following measures by 2030:

·  Aligning cities' food procurement to the Planetary Health Diet, ideally sourced from organic agriculture.

·  Supporting an overall increase of healthy plant-based food consumption in cities by shifting away from unsustainable, unhealthy diets.

·   Reducing food loss and waste by 50% from a 2015 baseline.

·   Within two years of endorsing this declaration, working with citizens, businesses, public institutions and other organizations to develop a joint strategy for implementing these measures and achieving these goals inclusively and equitably, and incorporating this strategy into our Climate Action Plan.

A number of US city mayors are speaking at the C40 summit, including mayors of Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), Boston, and New Orleans.  Many more cities are members of the C40 group.  Yet Los Angeles was the only US city to join the Declaration as a founding signatory.

Perhaps there are reasons for this lag in pledges -- for example, the governance structure of some US cities mean that the mayor cannot unilaterally commit to change procurement policies.  But by whatever local mechanisms are required, all US cities should be working to bring their food policies up to these standards -- contributing to the global effort to moderate climate change while also alleviating malnutrition and food insecurity.

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