Food security, not eating meat, is the real problem in New York City


Does your local government pit one sector of agriculture against another? I hope not, but an email from a faraway place to my middle of America location caused me to pause this week on the subject of "meat reduction" coming from New York City.

A news release arrived in my inbox capturing my attention with the subject line of “New York City Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare promotes meat reduction.” I wish I could show up at their office to investigate myself. Instead, I read the email, read more online and wrote this opinion column. The email and context of it reminded me of “The Fleecing of America” news segments from Tom Brokaw which captured my attention as a child and teen, examining wasteful government spending.

For me, wasteful spending is trying to "reduce" one sector of agriculture in the most food-rich country in the world rather than addressing true food issues, like feeding hungry people in our communities.

An animal “protection” group, that I leave unnamed to not give it any undeserved attention, went on in the email to say meat reduction should not just be for New Yorkers but for all Americans. And evidently for all Americans, that includes the publisher of an agriculture media brand, me, to receive the email.

“By reducing demand for meat, dairy, and eggs, we can create a shift towards farming practices that are more sustainable and kinder to animals,” said the email.

First, this type of government crusade hurts its local residents. Second, I will not support any movement pitting food choices against one another. Access to all types of healthy food choices is needed to feed food insecure people.

According to Food Bank of New York City research:

  • Nearly 1.1 million New York City residents, or 12.9%, are food insecure.
  • New York City residents make up half of all food insecure people living in New York state.
  • New York City's food insecurity rate is 12% higher than the national rate and 16% higher than the New York state rate.