(New York) New York City’s one million public school students were treated to “cheesy garlic pizza”, green beans and salad on Monday. But no roast beef.
Patients at public hospitals in New York City can eat a paella — without seafood — or a Moroccan tagine of root vegetables.
In New York City-run establishments, meat is increasingly absent from the menu.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday pledged to cut emissions from the city’s food supply by 33% by 2030, unveiling data that shows New York’s consumption Food rivals transportation as a source of the gases responsible for global warming.
Every year, New York City spends about $300 million on food — for public school students, for inmates on Rikers Island, and for patients admitted to its 11 public hospitals. The City estimates that its food purchases produce as much carbon as the annual exhaust from more than 70,000 gas-powered cars. In 2021, the last year of Bill de Blasio’s tenure, the City committed to reducing its food-related emissions by 25% by 2030.
Monday’s announcement increased that engagement to 33%.
“It’s easy to talk about emissions from vehicles and their effect on our carbon footprint, it’s easy to talk about emissions from buildings and their effect on our environment,” said Adams, standing next to a chef in a toque in the kitchen of a city hospital. “But now we have to talk about beef. And I don’t know if people are really ready for this conversation. »
The announcement is the latest development to date in Mr. Adams’ longstanding interest in vegetarianism, but it also represents an unusually candid admission by a national political leader, who acknowledges that Americans will have to eat differently if they want to curb climate change.
The City has released for the first time a new measure of New York City’s carbon footprint, which incorporates greenhouse gas emissions generated by the consumption and production of food. It shows that food rivals transport in terms of the size of its carbon footprint: it accounts for 20% of the city’s emissions, just behind transport (22%). New York buildings produce 34% of the city’s emissions.
The other is to tackle food waste, which today largely ends up in landfills, producing methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. To address this issue, New York City has committed to implementing a citywide composting program by the end of 2024.
“Having 20 grams of protein from beef — which is one serving of protein for a meal — is like burning a gallon of gasoline,” Larrick said. Everything else is less than a fifth of a gallon, essentially. »
Mr. Adams, who describes himself as a vegan and sometimes eats fish, has long considered his plant-based diet essential to a healthy life.
He has written a cookbook, Healthy at Last, which features recipes such as “jackfruit and okra okra”, “forest bowls with ground vegetables and turmeric and cashew sauce”, and a “Red Power Smoothie” filled with apples, berries and bananas.
He has collaborated with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to train health professionals in nutrition.
However, he rarely made the connection between a plant-based diet and issues other than individual health, such as climate change or animal welfare. (In fact, his decision to exhibit drowned rats at Brooklyn City Hall when he was borough president drew a barrage of criticism from animal welfare advocates, who previously viewed him as an ally. .)
Schools in New York City are already abstaining from serving meat on Mondays and Fridays. Public hospitals have made vegetarian meals the default option, but patients who want meat can still have it. Adams’ Monday announcement suggests the city will serve even less beef in its establishments in years to come, though it has yet to specify specific reduction targets.
In fiscal year 2021 (the latest year for which data is available), New York City purchased over $720,000 worth of Jamaican beef patties, nearly $270,000 worth of dumplings canned beef and nearly $190,000 worth of beef taco meat, according to a scorecard run by the city’s Office of Food Policy.
“Ruminant meat,” as the City classifies beef, makes up only 1% by weight of the City’s food purchases. But the carbon footprint of meat is undoubtedly greater.
Timothy Searchinger, a senior fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, says beef has such a large carbon footprint because it uses a lot of land. that otherwise could host carbon-storing forests.
“Beef, for example, in the American diet, accounts for about 3% of calories and half of land use,” Mr. Searchinger said. Anything that reduces the consumption of beef in particular therefore has considerable beneficial effects on greenhouse gas emissions. »