2 May 2015 – The Final Mile: Food systems of New York

The Final Mile: Food Systems of New York is a new initiative by OpenHouse and is a year-long series of public programs,  intended to shed light on New York City’s dynamic and multi-layered food economy. The series of tours and events aim to help New Yorkers  better understand how food shapes the city in critical ways that all too often go unnoticed.

There is a good introduction on the blog which talks about how  ‘every plate of food that we eat represents a vast network of interconnected spaces, large and small, that facilitated the flow and preparation of the ingredients of that meal‘. It provides some staggering statistics about the city, including 24,000 restaurants, 5,500 supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores; 1,730 food wholesalers and 120 farmers’ markets.

The city’s largest produce market (Hunts Point) handles 210 million packages of fresh fruit and vegetables each year and the fish market (New Fulton) sells millions of seafood daily and annual sales exceed one billion dollars.

Why the Final Mile? This is what the blog says:

The final mile is a phrase borrowed from the telecommunications industry to describe the challenges of distributing goods and services—in this case, food—from a central hub to multiple end-users. It is commonly understood as the most problematic and expensive leg of any supply chain; whether literal or metaphorical, the last “mile” is the most difficult because it is where the system makes its final transition from the large scale to the finely grained. The average journey for food sold in New York City is 1,500 miles, because it is actually easier to ship ten tons of produce around the world than it is to get a banana from the warehouse to the bodega shelf.

You can read more about it here

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