Foodscape gastropolis New York City

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Men slurp banana pudding from the hips of a black-latex-clad woman lying on atable in a room filled with liquid nitrogen smoke. This is just a single episode inthe culinary life of New York City (Parasecoli, 2009). Elsewhere, a long queue ofAfrican-Americans is patiently waiting for a soup kitchen in Harlem to open. Thetemperature is 35°C in the shade. These two images are at the extreme oppositesof the spectrum of the subject of food.1 The role of food in planning sustainableforms of land use in the United States – and in New York City in particular – isthe theme of this chapter.The culinary culture of New York City mirrors the ethnic and social structureof the population of this metropolis. In other words, you are what you eat. NewYork City is sometimes referred to as a ‘gastropolis’ (gastér is the Ancient Greekword for ‘stomach’), a metropolis where life revolves around eating and being eaten (Hauck-Lawson & Deutsch, 2009; Lee & Audant, 2009; de Silva, 2009). Thisknowledge is essential for planners and designers who want to promote sustainability;the food chain is the key to a more sustainable way of life. Spatial planningcan play an important part in this in terms of design, such as establishing frameworks for combining and separating types of space at various levels of scale. In the state of New York, this primarily occurs at the level of the local community (town, borough), which makes it difficult to keep an eye on the bigger picture (city, county, region, state, metropolitan area, watershed, climate zone). This is just a single observation after a three-month visit to New York City and the Hudson Valley.The investigation described below focuses on a region with a radius of about100 kilometres from downtown Manhattan. This region includes New York City(with its five boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and StatenIsland), with a population of more than 8 million, plus another several millionpeople in the New York metropolitan area extending into four or five states. TheHudson Valley, which stretches north from New York City up past Albany, is usedas a sample for this metropolitan area. By selecting this river valley, it is possible to look at conurbations, expanses of water, agricultural fields, meadows, and forests. The Hudson River Valley is part of the metropolitan landscape of New York City. 6292 T&F Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Planning.qxp_Royal_A 08/04/2016 10:06 Page 53The label ‘metropolitan landscape’ refers to the fact that land use in this area canonly be indicated by constantly referring to the economic strength, lifestyles andpatterns of behaviour of the residents of the metropolis in question. The metropolis is an economic, social, and political force field, which shapes and moulds the landscape in a constant process of change. In this ontext, ‘landscape’ is seen as a complex of physical characteristics in the environs, which give visual expression to the way people and animals use the land, constructed objects, vegetation, water, and air. A central question in this chapter relates to the way in which the food systemdoes or does not have an impact on the metropolitan landscape. Changes inpatterns of behaviour and land use (which are closely connected to the food chainin New York City and its surroundings) will be examined in detail. Specifically, wewill look at whether there are signs of a change or transition into a more sustainable way of dealing with the environment under the influence of changing ideas about the quality of food. The findings are based on conversations with experts,visual observation, websites, and a study of the literature.2 The motivation for thisexploratory study is the idea that the developments in New York City may provideinspiration for planning and designing the metropolitan landscape in theNetherlands and Western Europe (LaBelle, 2005a).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Planning
EditorsRob Roggema
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781138183087
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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