A Bite of the Big Apple: A Food Justice Cookbook

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The Living City Project Presents:


Imagining a more affordable, equitable, just, and sustainable New York City food system

Clara Pitt and Leila Tilin

A Bite of the Big Apple: Imagining a more affordable, equitable, just, and sustainable NYC food System WRITING Clara Pitt & Leila Tilin PHOTOGRAPHY Truly Siskind-Weiss & Clara Pitt DESIGN, GRAPHICS & LAYOUT Clara Pitt EDITORS Andrew Meyers & Tanya Gallo COLLABORATOR Livvy Gaglione PARTNERS Alexina Cather • Alexis Young • Chantel Kemp • Daniel Kane Jr. • Daniel Zauderer • David Samuels • Elise Pearlstein • Eve Brown• Gabriella Mosquera • Jake Dell • Josephine Perrella • Lee Michel • Leigh Adcock • Leo Servedio • Louise Noel • Marco Saavedra • Marjorie Wolfson • Martin Ping • Pelumi Oloyede • Peter Kohlmann • Qiana Mickie • Renae Cairns • Seth Mosner • Steph Larsen • Shawn Connell • Stefanie Katzman • Susie Spodek • Wellington Chen • Wilson Tang • Yajaira Saavedra This cookbook is a project that was completed during the 2021 Spring Semester of the Living City Project's "CityGAP"

For Andy, Tanya, and Truly: Thank you for showing us that every moment, street corner, historical rock, and dumpling is a learning opportunity. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to grow and learn when the rest of the world wanted to put us on hold. We are forever changed by your gracious guidance and infectious passion.

Our Land Acknowledgement: We collectively acknowledge that each of us is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous people. In our case, in New York City during CityGAP, we acknowledge our location in the ancestral lands of the Munsee and Lenni Lenape.




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Our names are Leila Tilin and Clara Pitt, two members of the 2021 cohort of the CityGAP program. We're the CityGALZ! During the Spring 2021 semester, we worked with The Living City Project (LCP), which provides immersive, experiential programs in New York City in which young people engage with the city as classroom, laboratory, studio and community. Through experiential learning, LCP utilizes the cultural and civic assets of NYC in order to learn more about the urgent challenges that we face today. LCP looks at issues of economic crisis, systemic racial inequality, and climate change as ones that we address through deep partnerships and collaborative projects; the program looks at the city and these issues through five lenses - The form of the city, resilient city, the just city, city of memory, and city of creativity. This year, we have also added the additional lens of a global pandemic. By studying in this time of a worldwide health crisis, the issues have not only been intensified, but now, more than ever, must be addressed.

We also wanted to shout out our peer and friend Livvy Gaglione, who worked with us for the first 6 weeks of work on the cookbook. Livvy played a pivotal role the inception of this cookbook.


WHY FOOD? We chose to spend the first half of our semester investigating the NYC food system, its inner workings, and the people and organizations that are fighting for justice and change within this system. We felt guided by one question specifically:

How can we build a sustainable and equitable food system that respects our diversity, nourishes our citizens, and protects our planet? We chose to study food and the food system for a couple of key reasons. The NYC food system is a reflection of many social issues and dynamics at play in the city, as well as in many other urban settings across the country, thus, it’s an incredibly important lens through which to look at these issues. Food is also universal; everyone understands it, needs it, feels connected to it, and has a stake (pun intended) in the game. Because of its universality and the way it reflects much larger dynamics at play, it’s an accessible and important way for people to have a greater understanding of issues of race, equity, access and environmental justice. On top of all of this, the extremes of food access have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, which makes it an even more critical time to be looking at these issues; while the wealthy haven’t struggled to feed themselves and their families during the pandemic, food access has become exponentially harder for those who were already struggling with food insecurity.


We chose to study food access, sustainability, and diversity in New York City because of the historical and influential culture of the city. The diversity of cuisine in NYC tells the fascinating stories of immigration and migration to New York City, and many of those patterns are reflected all over the US. In addition to having such a historically rich history with food migration, New York City is also one of the most influential cities in the US, if not the world. Not only does it reflect many of the food issues found elsewhere but, because of its influence, the approaches developed first by chefs, entrepreneurs, farmers, activists, and policymakers in NYC will likely spread to more locations all over the world in the coming years. Lastly, because of the way the city contains a multitude of diverse neighborhoods, the ability to study food from many divergent points of view gives us a broader perspective into how issues in the food system come about, whom they affect, and the different ways people are approaching solutions. We chose to study food here in New York because, in many ways, it feels like ground zero for addressing issues that affect us all.




WHY A COOKBOOK? We’ve chosen the cookbook as a vessel for all that we’ve learned for two reasons: (1) to reclaim the cookbook, as a means of creating change, and (2) to utilize a format that fits the personal and inclusive way we want to tell this story. We wanted to assert the power of the cookbook, historically contained to the traditionally circumscribed female sphere. We want to claim the cookbook as a platform for higher learning and communal education; one of learning through food. By formatting solutions we’ve learned about into recipes, not only are they more accessible to anyone who wants to read and learn, but they’re a more empowering, less daunting way to look at creating change in a flawed system. Lastly, through the cookbook format, we’ve been able to draw upon the various assets and wisdom of our partners in the community, combining stories, recipes, and theories of change into one whole. This cookbook is composed of two sections. In our first section, filled with family recipes from our community partners, we hope to shed some light on the stories of immigrants and migrants who have journeyed to New York: how these journeys have affected the recipes that have been passed down through generations and how they have shaped the way NYC cuisine looks today. In this section, we look at the rich cuisine that makes up the New York City food scene, and how it came to be that way.

in the food system, and seek to capture how these reformers are working to address these issues moving forward. By speaking to and working with a number of inspirational organizations and individuals, we have composed a section of metaphorical “recipes” for bringing about change in a food system that doesn’t serve its community as well as it might. We felt that by starting the cookbook with learning about how NYC food culture and the food system came to be, it would make the recipes for change in the second half that much more meaningful. In order to create change and create a better food system, it is important to learn about how and why the system came to be. We wrote this cookbook by speaking with people all over New York and in all parts of the food system, from independent chefs, to restaurateurs, to mutual aid activists, to those at the heart of large-scale food distribution. From our partners, we were able to get a wide variety of perspectives on this system. That being said, we realize that there are narratives and people missing. Our race, our class, our status as short-term residents, have all influenced the way we see this system. In this cookbook, we present one small perspective on the NYC food system; it is by no means an official “guide” to understanding food related issues facing New York. There is much more to be added and learned, many more histories and stories to be told, and many more activists and organizations to be honored.

In the second section of this book, we dive into the work that many individuals and organizations are doing to look at the injustices This is just our beginning.

We hope you enjoy devouring these recipes as much as we enjoyed creating this cookbook!

exploring the roots of the New York City cuisine




ew York City has always been defined by the diversity of its population. The first human arrivals, indigenous migrants from the west, established a complex network of tribal and language affiliations, and food customs, 6500 years ago. Since the 17th century, with the arrival of European colonists, immigrants have been coming to New York fleeing oppression, poverty, natural disasters, and genocide in search of new opportunities and a new life. These diverse migrant and immigrant groups brought their family traditions, specifically their food traditions, with them to this new land. Today, the current food landscape of NYC is reflective of the migrants and immigrants who have brought their stories and food histories to take a bite out of “the Big Apple.” New York is unique in the diversity of its food landscape because of the cultural proximity that comes with living in a city of extremely high urban density. Not only can you find almost every type of cuisine in New York, but you can often find unique fusions or ‘hybrid-cuisines’ that have been born out of the proximity of various cultural groups. Because of this, we thought it would be especially interesting to study food migration in New York City as a basis for understanding the foundations and evolution of the New York City food system.

Through our research into the NYC food system, we had the opportunity to learn from many individuals from various immigrant and migrant groups who have come to New York over the decades. With each person we met, we learned their family’s story and asked for a family recipe that is reflective of that story. In this section, we highlight those individuals’ stories and recipes as a glimpse into the rich food history that New York has to offer. Our recipes come from: Jewish families, most of whose families migrated in the late 19th and early 20th century, and many of whom were escaping religious persecution; Chinese partners, whose families left at similar times as the Jews, many escaping Opium wars; Italian immigrants, who came around the same time as the Chinese and Jews, mostly escaping Italian nation building; Mexican immigrants, arriving mostly in the 20th century in search of opportunity, and Carribean immigrants, a group whose migration to NYC picked up greatly in the 1990s and 2000s. We recognize that, due to our short time in New York, our recipes only reflect a small number of the migrant groups that have come, and continue to come to NYC, and we hope the reader will keep in mind that we’ve just painted a fraction of the whole picture.


COOKING TIME 1 hour 30 min SERVINGS 10 / 125

From ofLa LaMorada, Morada Fromthe the kitchen kitchen of an Oaxacan Restaurant and Mutual Aid Kitchen in the South Bronx


The soup we prepare at La Morada mutual aid is the result of our community's needs (nutritious and vegetarian) and our sourcing of fresh and locally donated ingredients prepped and delivered by volunteers. We are lucky to receive so many ingredients from farmers in the Hudson Valley who can provide us year round with yams, carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic, as well as other hearty vegetables. This soup recipe was developed jointly by Chef Natalia Mendez and Volunteer Chef JJ Kingman. Lastly, we try our best to be mindful of the dietary needs of the communities we serve while also providing the healthiest meals for folks fighting food insecurity during the pandemic." - Chef JJ Kingman At La Morada this dish is prepared in huge quantities to feed as many communtiy emmbers as possible,

FOR 125 SERVINGS 10 lbs onions 15 lbs carrots 20 lbs sweet potato 12.5 lbs potato 10 lbs watermelon radish 1.5 cups minced garlic 1/2 cup kosher salt 5 1/4 gallons water 1 1/2 cups oil

DIRECTIONS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.


FOR 10 SERVINGS 1 onion 2 large carrots 2 large sweet potatoes 5 baby potatoes 3 watermelon radishes 4-5 cloves minced garlic 1 tablespoons kosher salt 6-7 cups water 3 tablespoons oil

Heat pot over high heat and add oil When oil is hot, add onions. Saute onions untile they start to get soft and translucent Add minced garlic and saute. About 2 minutes. Add carrots, sweet potato, potato, and watermelon radish. Add water to cover the top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil and continuously stir. When all vegetables are fork tender, the soup is done! Turn off the heat and add salt to finish. Let the soup cool for 20 - 30 minuts. Once cooled, blend with an immersion blender stick (optional).

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This recipe comes to us from the GrowNYC Teaching Garden on Govenor's Island. The farm educators at the Teaching Garden makes this recipe with the NYC public school students who visit the garden using the chickpeas and herbs grown in the garden. Learn more about the GrowNYC Teaching Garden on pages 46-51. Chickpeas have been used to make hummus for thousands of years. They can also be used to make chana masala, or can be ground into a flour to make falafel.

INGREDIENTS 1- 15 oz can of chickpeas 2 tablespoons of olive oil 1/4 cup of tahini 1/4 cup of lemon juice or vinegar 1 teaspoon of salt 2 tablespoons of chickpea can water - or just water (if consistency needs to be thinner)

DIRECTIONS 1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend. 2. Adjust seasonings to taste and enjoy. Best served cold. If you don’t have a food processor, no problem! You can mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher and stir to combine or you can use a mortar and pestle. Optional: Add a variety of herbs from your garden to the hummus (basil, thyme, rosemary, chives or whatever you like!)



SPINACH CALLALOO Louise Noel is a community chef at the Corbin Hill Food Project, which is an organization dedicated to distributing local, farm fresh food to communities in areas of food apartheids. As a community chef with a background in nutritional science, she teaches communities about the preparation of a variety of vegetables that are seasonal and nutritious.

Callaloo is one of the national dishes of my native country, Trinidad and Tobago. Not to be confused with the plant Callaloo, which is native to Jamaica, this Trinbagonian dish is made entirely from ingredients that are often grown in one’s backyard. A combination of key ingredients such as of dasheen leaves (aka dasheen bush), coconut milk made by grating dry coconuts which are then blended with water and strained, fresh okra, seasoning pimento peppers, and pumpkin – creates the unique flavor profile that encompasses this dish. Keeping with tradition, a special wooden tool, the swizzle stick, is used to blend the mixture into a puree. Being a chef in America has given me the opportunity to explore incorporating different ingredients in order to prepare Callaloo. I now substitute the recipe with these Callaloo friendl items: frozen spinach (not to be confused with frozen cut spinach), canned coconut cream milk, frozen okra, any squash or pumpkin that is in season, and an array of other spices and flavors. Plate this over a bed of white rice, your choice of protein, and boiled plantains, and instantly be transported to tasting a perfect Sunday meal in the Caribbean.” - Louise Noel




1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped 5 cloves garlic, peeled and grated 8 sprigs fresh thyme 2 packs frozen spinach (thawed) 1 pack frozen okra 1 cup pumpkin, cubed (butternut squash, or calabaza) 2 cups canned coconut milk 2 cups water 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground clove 1 stick cinnamon


1. In a saucepan, add the oil and heat over low flame. 2. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, spinach, okra, pumpkin, and the habanero pepper or crushed pepper flakes. Let this sauté for 3-5 minutes to release the fragrance. 3. Stir in both liquids (coconut milk and water), ground cloves, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper. 4. Cover and let it simmer, over low heat, for 30-45 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes. 5. Finally, remove the whole habanero pepper (this is to prevent an extremely spicy dish) and use a hand blender to puree everything into a smooth consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.



Walnut Biscotti Marjorie Wolfson and Lee Michel are co-founders of Moms Feed the Bronx. We spoke to them about their efforts to distribute food to neighborhood fridges all over the Bronx.

“Growing up in a traditional Jewish home, my food memories are centered around

brisket, stuffed cabbage, chopped liver and matzoh ball soup. My mother always made vegetable soup with marrow bones, and my dad would carefully scrape out the marrow and serve to us on challah. I always loved to cook and cooked professionally for many years. As an adult with my husband and kids, I loved when my parents would come for dinner. My dad always had favorites including osso buco, risotto and biscotti. He would look for the biscotti when he arrived at my apartment and I always sent him home with plenty for the week. After my dad died, it took a long time to make biscotti again. These days I find it comforting. I hope that you enjoy!” - Marjorie Wolfson




INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS 1.5 cups walnuts 1 cup butter 1.5 cups sugar 4 eggs (at room temperature) 2 teaspoon vanilla 2 tablespoon Cognac* 4.5 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt * Marjorie usually uses 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Preheat oven to 325ºF Chop walnuts and set aside Cream butter and sugar together Beat egg, vanilla, and cognac into butter mixture In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt. Add flour mix along with the walnuts With parchment, roll dough into 3 cylinders, 12” long (approximate) Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned Cool, slice and bake again at 325ºF until light brown




Wilson Tang is the current owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Wilson shared this recipe with us after we spoke with him about NYC’s historical Chinatown in the Lower East Side.

“This recipe is pretty much a sta-

ple in Chinese cuisine and Asian culture in general with history that goes back thousands of years. You would find this dish or a variation of it at ANY Chinese restaurant. I grew up eating it often at any family gathering and especially during Lunar New Year because you want to eat as much auspicious food as possible. Noodles symbolizes longevity and long life. The more noodles you eat the longer and more prosperous your year and life will be.” - Wilson Tang






4 tsp. light soy sauce 2 tsp. dark soy sauce 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. sugar 1 tbsp. Shaoxing wine 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper 1 lb. fresh, thin HK-style egg noodles (Wilson uses the Twin Marquis brand) 4 scallions, cut into 2” long slices 1/4 c. white onion, thinly sliced 3 c. bean sprouts


1. Mix the soy sauces, toasted sesame oil, salt, sugar, wine, and white pepper in a small bowl and set aside. 2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the noodles. Cook fresh noodles for about 1 minute (or dried for about 2 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again very well, and then pat dry with a paper towel. 3. Heat a wok or large pan over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil to coat. Add white parts of the scallion and onion to the pan. Stir fry for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the noodles to the pan. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss continuously for 2 minutes or until the noodles are golden brown. Add the bean sprouts and the rest of the scallions and toss for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bean sprouts are slightly transparent but still crunchy.


From The Nom Wah Cookbook by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein. Copyright 2020 Wilson Tang. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Photos courtesy of Wilson Tang


This recipe comes to us from Daniel Zauderer who is the co-creator of the Mott Haven Friendly Fridges. Kasha Varnishkas is a traditional dish of the American-Jewish community. This recipe comes from Daniel’s grandmother.

Daniel Zauderer’s Kasha Varnishkas COOKING TIME 30 MIN SERVINGS 4

My maternal grandmother, Lillian Weitz, was born in Sokol, Poland. When she was approximately 18 years old, she traveled with her mother and older brother by land and then by sea, reaching the New York Harbor on January 15, 1921. She was reunited with her father, sister and another brother who were already living in an immigrant community in Brooklyn. After settling into life in Brooklyn, she went to night school to learn English and prepare for citizenship. She eventually took a job at her brother’s dress factory.

The delicious recipe shared here is one my grandma inherited from the NYC Jewish American community and prepared for my mom and aunt in their childhood apartment in the Bronx. While I never had the privilege of meeting my grandma Lilly, who passed away before I was born, enjoying Kasha Varnishkas with my own mom is one way that we celebrate my grandmother’s memory and stay connected to our Jewish American heritage.” - Daniel Zaurder


2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 medium onions, chopped finely 1 cup of bowtie pasta (farfalle) Cooked kasha (buckwheat) 1 cup uncooked kasha 2 cups water Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine kasha and water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 2. Boil farfalle as directed on package. 3. In a large pan, pan, heat the oil over medium heat and cook onions until tender and golden. Toss with bowties, kasha, salt & pepper to taste. 4. Enjoy!




Elise Pearlstein is an Oscar nominated, Emmy-winning documentary producer. We spoke with Elise about her experience creating compelling, honest stories and specifically about her work producing the film, Food Inc.

Elise Pearlstein

My Grandma Shirley and her five brothers and sisters came to America with their mother between the First and Second World Wars. As a Jewish family, they were persecuted in their native homeland, Poland, and they feared for their safety, even before Hitler took power in Germany. Her father had been conscripted into the Russian army and the last they heard he had been sent to a Siberian work camp. They didn’t know if he was alive or dead when my great-grandmother made the decision to take her six children, by herself, to America. Not unlike modern-day “coyotes”, they gave all their money to a person who made the arrangements for their passage to America by ship. He misled them and they were surprised to end up in steerage class - the cheapest way to travel. The conditions were terrible. They arrived at Ellis Island in New York City and after what my grandma said was a frightening interrogation, they were admitted into the United States. They stayed briefly in New York City but they had family in Chicago so they soon traveled by train to Chicago. While in Chicago, they found out that my grandma’s father had survived, and he was able to come meet them. A couple of years later, they migrated to Los Angeles where the weather was better and some family members had already relocated. Grandma Shirley’s parents didn’t spea English but the six children immediately en-

rolled in the public school system where they learned the language. My grandma and her sister were the only girls. Though my grandmother was very intelligent, the girls did not go to college because the money was reserved for the boys’ education. All of the boys became quite successful in business and medicine. My grandma excelled at crossword puzzles and cooking. She’d wake up at 5am and start baking. She was famous for her rugelach, challah, chocolate chip cookies, lemon chiffon pie and many other treats, including brisket. She cooked this brisket recipe often, and always for Chanukah and Passover. I grew up eating it, but my grandmother passed away while I was in my early twenties, before I had ever cooked a brisket myself. Luckily, she kept a small tin recipe box containing yellowed index cards with her favorite recipes. I found the brisket recipe there and I’ve been making it ever since. I even use her roasting pan when I make brisket which makes the experience very special. I definitely feel that I’m carrying on the tradition and that there is history in that brisket.” - Elise Pearlstein





3-5 lb piece of brisket, depending on how many people you’re feeding (I trim off some of the thickest fat and leave some on for the cooking process) 2 white or yellow onions thinly sliced 3 carrots cut into rounds 2 pieces of celery cut into thin slices 1 package onion soup mix (Elise uses the Lipton brand) Ketchup Tomato paste Salt and pepper


1. Cut up the onions, carrots and celery and make a bed in the bottom of a large roasting pan 2. Liberally salt and pepper the brisket 3. Place brisket fat side down on top of the bed of vegetables 4. Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top of the brisket 5. Squeeze Ketchup in ribbons across the top of brisket 6. Add water to almost cover brisket 7. Squeeze into the liquid surrounding the meat 4-5 squirts of good quality tomato paste (from a tube) 8. Cover the roasting pan tightly in foil and cook at 325 degrees for 3-4 hours, basting occasionally (Elise usually cooks t for 4 hours.) 9. After 4 hours, remove brisket and cut against the grain. Place back in the pan and cover with juices. 10. Cook an additional hour uncovered

CHEF’S NOTE “This is an imperfect science and I play around with it, but you can tell by the texture when it’s had enough time to cook. Dorothy made this every year for Passover. She was full of life, love and warmth. She lived to the ripe age of 94 and she lives on because now we all make her brisket.”

- Elise Pearlstein



Lee Michel and Marjorie Wolfson are co-founders of Moms Feed the Bronx. We spoke to them about their efforts to distribute food to neighborhood fridges all over the Bronx.

I come from a large Italian family. My family is originally from South Philadelphia, which was a large Italian immigrant enclave. Both sets of grandparents lived there until they passed away and my family, my aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived close by. We would often congregate with family and friends on weekends, holidays, birthdays, and special events. All were welcome; it was a magical time. It goes without saying that we ate A LOT when we were together! Meatballs and gravy were always part of every family meal. Preparations began in the very early mornings. My grandmother Stella was often in the kitchen making homemade ravioli and when we arrived we were recruited to help out. These traditions continued as I got older. Through my college years, I would bring friends home and my mom would cook for all of us. And when I moved to California to start my own family, my mom would pack frozen homemade meatballs in her luggage and we would cook up a feast and share them with my family and friends.


To this day, there is no better smell than a homemade pot of gravy cooking on the stove. The scent of sautéed onions, garlic, and tomatoes bring me back to my childhood and the memories of a loving family with lots of laughter and a shared joy of cooking and eating together. Nothing makes me happier than doing the same for my friends and family and I hope to pass this tradition on to my children.” - Lee Michel

Lee Michel (left) and her mother, Lee Dezenhall (right)




INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS Meatballs: 1 1/2 lbs 85/15% ground beef 1/2 lb ground pork 6 pieces white or whole wheat bread with crusts cut off 4 eggs 1 cup of chopped onion 5 cloves of chopped garlic 1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 1/4 cup regular bread crumbs Salt Pepper Sunday Gravy: 2 tbsp olive oil 1 cup chopped onion 5 cloves of peeled and chopped garlic 2 cans 28 oz. crushed tomatoes (add 1/2 can water into each can and add to gravy) 1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese Salt Pepper

Meatballs: 1. Mix beef and pork slightly by hand 2. Slightly soak bread in milk, lightly squeeze any excess milk and rip into small pieces and mix into meat. 3. Add the rest of ingredients and mix by hand 4. Form meatballs by hand and fry in canola oil* 5. When browned on all sides, remove and add to gravy *NOTE: You can also bake the meatballs in a 425 degree oven for approx. 45 minutes until brown. Sunday Gravy: 1. Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat 2. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes 3. Add garlic and sauté until golden for about 1 minute (be sure not to burn the garlic) 4. Add tomatoes and water 5. Add parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper 6. Bring to a boil then partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 1 1/2 hours (add more water if it gets too thick)


Prep for Mama Lee’s Meatballs and Gravy



We had the pleasure of speaking with Wellington Chen, the Executive Director for the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, in Chinatown on the Lower East Side early into our food justice journey. Wellington taught us about the neighborhood, its history and community, and the general resiliency in ethnic neighborhoods all over the city. Wellington spoke a lot about the culture in Chinatown, and the way it is, in many ways, its own city within the city. Speaking with Wellington helped us to understand how this neighborhood has maintained its unique culture and how it continues to be such an iconic, essential neighborhood of NYC.

This dish is one of the most popular dishes in many parts of Asia. Although not often seen as a key ingredient, and much harder to get in New York City, fresh small baby oysters are the most important ingredient in this recipe. This city used to have millions of these oysters to provide sustenance and, more importantly, to buffer and protect our seashore and coastlines from storms, to provide resiliency.

This dish is a symbol of our life on this beautiful oasis called Earth, where every civilization began near a source of water. To have this form of pancake in our culinary culture, as well as a way to have eggs to regenerate and continue the life cycle. We came from the sea and have a collective stewardship and responsibility.” -Wellington Z. Chen





8 fresh baby oysters (canned is okay) 2 large eggs, beaten 2 tbsp cooking oil ½ tsp fish sauce, add more to taste For batter: ¾ cup tapioca flour ¼ cup all-purpose flour ¼ cup sweet potato starch 1¼ cups water 1 tsp fish sauce 1 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp sesame oil ¼ teaspoon ground pepper (black or white) ¼ tsp salt For chili sauce: 3 tbsp sambal sauce or chili paste 1 tbsp rice vinegar For garnish: Freshly sliced green onion Fresh cilantro leaves


Photo from ChopsticksandFlour.com



1. In a medium mixing bowl mix all ingredients for the batter and set aside 2. Drain off any excess liquid from the oyster and pat dry with absorbent paper towel 3. Preheat a non-stick pan. Add 2 Tbsp of oil. Give the batter a stir as some starches may have settled at the bottom and pour about 2 ladles of the batter on the pan and swirl around to spread the batter thin. Fry until it’s crispy at the edge but the middle is still soft and gooey 4. I like lots of crispy edges so I break up the batter into larger chunks. You can leave it whole if you prefer it that way 5. Add half of the beaten eggs and fry until the eggs just started to solidify but still slightly wet, flip over to the other side. Drizzle a bit more oil, add another half of the eggs and fry again until the eggs are set. Flip over again and push to the side once you are happy with the crispy edges. Drizzle a bit more oil to fry the oyster 6. Fill the ladle about 1/2 full of the batter. Add about 6-8 pieces of oyster and some fish sauce. Pour this on the pan and quickly stir fry for about 30 seconds or so. It doesn’t take long to cook the oysters, don’t over cook them. Mix them around with the batter and then dish out onto a serving platter 7. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green onion. Serve while hot, with chili sauce on the side!





ur exploration of food justice and sustainability brought us into contact with a variety of individuals, initiatives, non-profit organizations, and companies, each with a distinct focus on addressing a particular aspect of the food system. We came away from each conversation or experience with a different understanding of the challenges and a unique approach to creating change. From there, we arranged our interviews and conversations into metaphorical recipes reflective of the people we worked with. Although these recipes do not contain literal food ingredients, they outline how the synthesis of a variety of actions, people, and ideas can create positive change, specifically to make the NYC food system more equitable, affordable, sustainable, and culturally appropriate for its diverse population.

We’ve organized our metaphorical recipes into six sections: Production, Distribution, Transportation, Retail and Restaurants, Consumption, and Post-Consumer. By dividing the metaphorical recipes into the steps that most food products take to get to someone’s plate, we hope to help the reader better understand the overall process that is involved in feeding communities everyday. We’ve also set up the cookbook in this fashion because each recipe for change pertains mostly to one sector of the food industry, and the sustainable practices that can make that sector alone, more sustainable and equity-oriented.

Though we have separated these recipes by section, we believe that to address the challenges in the food system our country must employ a “systems thinking” approach that With some partners, the recipe was drawn recognizes how one part of the system affrom the work they were doing towards im- fects the others. As you go through these proving the food system; these were people recipes for change, please hold them simulwho worked with Mutual Aid organizations, taneously and notice how they do and could educational programs, and community gar- (on a larger scale) work together to create a den initiatives. Other partners were not ex- system that respects our people and planet. plicitly focused on changing the system in a conventional sense but included in their business models practices for supporting a more sustainable and resilient system.


AGRICULTURE & PRODUCTION Where food is grown, cultivated, and developed; Can range from farms (urban and rural) and community gardens to industrial agriculture.


DISTRIBUTION & TRANSPORTATION Taking products from many different producers and bringing them to one larger center; From here they’re taken to grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, and food stands.

OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM: Non-Profit, Mutual Aid and Advocacy All the actors who attempt to improve the food system through mutual aid, non-profit food delivery, advocacy and activism.

THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN The food supply chain is the set of steps that explains the systematic process of how food gets from a farm to someone’s plate. The chain includes the steps of production (some form of agriculture), processing and packaging, transportation and distribution, retail, consumption, and post-consumption. Each step is equally important in keeping the food system running and is greatly intertwined with all the other steps. When one element of produce changes on a large scale, such as price point for example, each step in the process is affected in some manner. As we worked on this cookbook, we chose to focus on production, distribution, retail, consumption, and outside the system in the interest of time. We understand and hope to emphasize that each step in the process is as important as the next, especially when discussing creating a more just, sustainable food system.

RETAIL & RESTAURANTS Supermarkets, farmers markets, grocery stores, food stands, and bodegas that sell the transported goods. Restaurants that prepare and serve the transported food.







inspired by the GrowNYC Teaching Garden on Govenors Island The GrowNYC Teaching Garden at Governors Island is an urban farm that aims to engage and educate its visitors in all aspects of urban agriculture. Governor’s Island’s placement in the landscape of New York City provides a unique combination of open land and accessibility to the city, making it the perfect location for educating youth about sustainable growth of food, even in an urban setting. GrowNYC’s one acre farm features over 20 vegetable beds made from recycled plastic lumber, farm-style rows, an aquaponics system, an outdoor kitchen, a high tunnel greenhouse, fruit trees, and a rain garden. Through free field trips to the Teaching Garden, NYC students have the opportunity to plant, water, harvest, and cook the garden’s array of produce. Education Coordinator, Eve Brown, engages students in discussions of plant care, ecosystems, food justice, and healthy living during their time visiting the Garden. In an average year, the garden workers with about 5,000 students, that breaks down to Eve Brown of GrowNYC about 200 groups/classes (mostly public school but also charters, private schools, non-profits and summer camp groups) about 6 times per week, and there is an average of about 25 students per class. The Garden also provides free visiting hours for the general public on the weekends during Governors Island open season. Overall, the farm operates to facilitate the education and empowerment of NYC youth via garden-based programming and workshops.

“It is important for children to internalize ideas about

nutrition and fresh produce from a young age because that will lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. It is much easier to eat healthy foods as an adult when you understand how to cook them, like how they taste, and understand the value of eating healthy. All of those things can be solidified in childhood and as they always say, “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks” so if you gain healthy habits around food from a young age it’s much easier to stick to those than it is for an adult to change their habits.” - Eve Brown, Education Coordinator, Teaching Garden at Governors Island



THE RECIPE In the beginning of April, we had the chance to spend a few hours meeting Eve, Shawn, and Chloe at the Teaching Garden. We spent a few hours touring the farm, weeding and preparing rows of soil for plantings, and seeding raised beds. (See photos of us farming on page 48-49.) It was truly unbelievable to be working on a farm with the entire Manhattan skyline visible in the distance. After our visit to the Teaching Garden, we created this recipe with Eve Brown to summarize their mission of using food as a tool of empowerment and education.

INGREDIENTS For Education: 3 farm and food educators Relationship with Title I NYC Public schools 5,000+ students

For Farm: Any combination of the following 20+ vegetable beds made from recycled plastic Farm-style rows 1 Aquaponics system 1 Outdoor Kitchen 1 high tunnel greenhouse 1 rain garden 10+ fruit trees 3+ rainwater harvesting systems


• Up to 20,000 lbs of produce a year • Agriculture and Food Justice conscious students • Beautified Land



1. Gather a group of people who have a passion for educating youth and a knowledge of farming and food production. 2. Transform an unused, arable piece of land into a functioning farm. Use what is accessible from the farm ingredients to create a variety of food learning experiences. Such as --- building an aquaponics farming system and building raised beds for planting 3. Construct the different farming set-ups so that they are conducive to experiential learning 4. Invite schools to set up field trips to the farm during the growing season 5. Field Trips: 6. Give students a tour of learning farm, 7. Get students involved in farming through various gardening tasks, compost exploration, and rainwater harvesting 8. During gardening tasks, introduce the importance of using sustainable farming practices and the differences between organic, locally-grown, hand-picked, and nationally/internationally grown produce - what it looks like, tastes like, and how it affects their health. 9. After garden work, cook something in the outdoor kitchen; use this as an opportunity to help students understand how one can grow their own food and let students taste the benefits of growing their own food (See recipe for Teaching Garden Hummus on page 16) 10. Through help of students and farm educators, they produce up to 20,000 pounds of fresh produce every year. 11. Lastly, ensure all visitors and students leave the garden with an understanding of how food is grown, how it impacts their health, and how it can be a revolutionary act that disrupts the industrial food system!

CHEF’S NOTE: Adaptation to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this moment of COVID the farmers at the Teaching Garden have adapted their model to shift from focusing on public programming to full-scale food production. Beginning in March of 2020, the farm had to halt all student and adult visits. Usually, the food they produce on the farm goes home with visiting students or cooked in their outdoor kitchen to demonstrate the full cycle from growing to consuming. But, without the visitors to feed, they were left with produce without a home and arable land without children. As such, they decided to shift their efforts to producing as much food as possible so they could distribute it to New Yorkers whose food security was threatened by economic and social impacts of the pandemic . GrowNYC Program Manager Shawn Connell estimates their land could yield up to 20,000 pounds of produce per year. The team decided to partner with two organizations, the Black Feminist Project and Chilis on Wheels, to deliver produce from the Teaching Garden to families across the southeastern Bronx.

“We decided which organizations to donate our produce to because a variety of reasons including their missions were aligned with our values, and logistically we were able to make it happen. Our partner organizations not only have excellent missions aimed at helping food insecure families but were also able to meet us where we were able to bring the food.” - Eve Brown, Education Coordinator, Teaching Garden at Governors Island




with Teens for Food Justice We had the chance to speak with Gabrielle Mosquera and Renae Cairns from Teens for Food Justice to learn more about their organization and work with youth in NYC public schools. This recipe was constructed out of our inspiring conversation.

Gabrielle Mosquera

Renae Cairns

Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) was founded in 2016 with the goal of connecting NYC students to community service opportunities. Through that work, they found that many students were drawn to projects related to food insecurity and justice. Today, TFFJ works to eradicate food insecurity and create equity in the food system. Through their educational programming, they work with schools to convert classrooms into large scale hydroponic farms that can produce up to 10,000 pounds of food each year. Each hydroponic farm is maintained by generous Farmer-Educators who also teach relevant curriculum to students. Either through curricular day STEM classes or TFFJ’s after school program, students have the opportunity to learn about and engage in the production of food. By working directly in a farm, students are involved in food production at every step; the students can understand how nutritious food is produced and how food can directly either positively or negatively contribute to physical and environmental health.


From their programming:


of participating students understand how nutritious food makes a positive difference in their health


of participating students feel like leaders and can advocate for food justice

(Statistics are from TTFJ’s annual evaluation, which is the result of cumulative data from preand post-program surveys of students across both our curricular day and afterschool program components for the entire school year.)

THE RECIPE COOKING TIME At least 1 school year YIELD 1 NYC Public School with greater connection to and empowerment through food, empowered students with the change-making knowledge, and locally produced, sustainable, and nutritious food.

INGREDIENTS 1 Cooperating School 1 Indoor Hydroponic system 1 Cafeteria 1 Farmer-er-Educator 5 Motivated Teachers Approx. 20 Students


1. Bring farming systems and educators to students in their own schools, meeting them where they are 2. Teach and help students to build a hydroponic farm, helping students to master high-tech urban farming 3. Study nutrition and food policy in the classroom, learning to be an effective advocate and teacher to others 4. Harvest fresh produce from the classroom farm and donate to the school cafeteria, thus sharing this bounty of fresh and nutritious food with the whole student population. 5. Repeat empowerment of youth through food production and leadership roles (Steps 1-4) as many times as possible


SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve with a side of policy change • Push cities to adopt Good Food Purchasing Program. • The Good Food Purchasing Program provides a guide for buying food based on a progressive values system. This will create standards in municipalities that will prioritize local economies, environmental sustainability, and animal rights. • For Teens for Food Justice, the Good Food Purchasing Program will allow them to sell their produce to the school’s cafeteria. Thereby instilling equity in the hydroponic, student run farms.

CHEF’S NOTE: WHY HYDROPONICS? • Unlike other forms of agriculture, hydroponic farms are indoors and in a controlled environment. • This is advantageous for teachers and students for several reasons: 1. Students can engage with the farm year-round as weather conditions do not impact the hydroponics conditions. 2. It is easy to outfit a classroom into a hydroponic environment. All schools have classrooms. Not all schools have access to arable land. 3. Hydroponics can grow vertically, which is very efficient for maximizing space, and creates a relatively high yield. 4. Hydroponic farms can grow a decent variety of crops and can produce yearround. 5. Above all, hydroponics deliver an immediate and continuous learning tool for students.


HAWTHORNE VALLEY FARM: BUIDLING AN ASSOCIATE DAIRY PRODUCTION FARM On a rainy day in April, we drove two hours north of New York City to visit Hawthorne Valley Farm. We visited the farm in an effort to understand the way small scale food production affects the larger picture of the NYC food system. At the farm, we spent the day touring the farm with Jess Brobst (the Dairy Herd Manager), cleaning the cows’ feeding barn, and speaking with Hawthorne Valley’s executive director, Martin Ping. Martin has been at the Hawthorne Valley Association for more than 30 years, teaching, directing, and facilitating a variety of programs. He spends his time developing working relationships among the Association’s diverse initiatives and his 200 coworkers who carry those initiatives to success. In celebration of the Association’s 50th anniversary, Martin has started a podcast, titled Roots to Renewal. We had the pleasure of hearing Martin’s enthusiasm first hand. He told us about Hawthorne Valley Farm, all of its surrounding operations, and the way in which it approaches food, and life, with a unique philosophy in mind. Our visit with Hawthorne Valley Farm was a peek into NYC’s food system in a very unique aspect; we saw how much of what makes and impacts

the city’s food system comes from outside the city limits. Hawthorne Valley Association is a nonprofit, located in Columbia County, NY, that promotes social and cultural renewal through education, agriculture, and the arts. The Association, which is located in Columbia County of the Hudson Valley, was founded in 1971 and includes a variety of initiatives including Hawthorne Valley Farm, a 900acre Demeter* certified Biodynamic farm. The farm includes a dairy herd, onsite dairy processing facility, CSA program, a full-line organic grocery store, and an organic bakery. Along with the farm, the Hawthorne Valley Association also runs the Farmscape Ecology Program, Place Corps, the Farm Store, Children’s Programming, and the Center for Social Research. There is also a Waldorf School that was founded in 1973.

By definition, Biodynamic farming is an approach to farming that focuses on the integration of livestock and produce systems. Livestock manures are used to sustain plant growth through the recycling of essential nutrients and improvement of soil quality. Though the current iteration of biodynamic farming was coined by Rudolf Steiner, these farming practices have been used for thou sands of years by traditional indigenous communities.

and livestock practices. Hawthorne Valley was also one of the first farms to participate in GrowNYC’s greenmarkets. They have been selling products and produce at the Union Square Market since 1980 and in Inwood since 2004. They also attend the Columbia Market, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Greenmarket, St. Stephen’s Market, and Borough Hall Market. *Demeter is one of the oldest ecological certification organizations in the world.

Hawthorne Valley also began one of the first CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture, in the country. CSAs are a partnership between a specific farm and an individual. Shareholders receive a weekly share of farm-fresh produce and become part of a community around food, farming, nature, and nutrition. CSA shareholders are essential to Hawthorne Valley’s survival as shareholders pay upfront before the growing season. Hawthorne Valley is committed to fostering a close connection between farmers and shareholders and to be transparent about their growing

Jess Brobst, Dairy Herd Manager

Martin Ping, Executive Director of Hawthorne Valley Farm

THE RECIPE Associative Economics emphasizes the development of conscious coordination of producers, distributors, and consumers. It understands the global economy as a single unified domain, through which human beings meet one another’s needs. “We practice associative economics in our internal economy, constantly looking at what it takes to pay a living wage to the farmers, to not stress the land, to not stress the animals, to not take shortcuts. We work together to figure out how to farm regeneratively.” - Martin Ping, Executive Director Hawthorne Valley Farm practices associative economics in which all processes are a conscious coordination of all members involved. To illustrate this, we created a recipe that outlined how associative economics works specifically within a dairy producing system. This recipe explores a microcosm of what the Hawthorne Valley Association practices in all of their initiatives.

INGREDIENTS 65 dairy cows Land for grazing Land for growing grain 1 on-site creamery 1 on-property farm store 1 CSA Farm share program 1+ stands at a green market 3 biodynamic farmers


1. Form an association of all participants in the micro-economy: producers, value-adders, consumers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers 2. In this case you’d gather the Dairy Hearder, Dairy Processor, Store keeper, Farm Director, and Consumers 3. Have a conversation with the association members and allow each participant to share what they need to perform their function well in the ecosystem 4. Through this, everyone involved gets to understand the needs of the whole system Establish and balance the pricing of the products so that each factor remains whole and functional. One piece shouldn’t gain an advantage at the expense of another part of the system. Now, the ecosystem can begin to operate.


DIRECTIONS Part 2 1. 2. 3. 4.

Grow grass on property for cow grazing Grow wheat and grain on property for biodynamic cow feed Provide separate spaces for cows in different stages of life Have designated Dairy Herd Manager, who takes care of, feeds, and situates for milking on the day-to-day 5. Once milked, “sell” the milk to the on-site creamery - in doing this, one uses the principle of associative economics to create a micro economy within the farm 6. Hawthorne Valley sells 100 pounds of raw milk for $40 7. At creamery take the milk, add human ingenuity and some physical work, and you get the value added product 8. bottle milk to be sold 9. Have in house creamery manager and cheesemaker make it into yogurt and cheese 10. Sell bottled milk at on-site farm store 11. Sell specialized yogurt and cheese at farm store, through CSA, and at green markets within the greater NY area

“In the best case scenario, we think of the

economy as an ecosystem where we all are participants and co-producers. If it is truly an ecosystem, then it is only as healthy as all the parts that make it up. If there is a part, or member, that is ailing, eventually the whole system will feel the pain and hurt as well. People need to have ownership and agency in their own communities. We can’t have multinational corporations making decisions on behalf of communities. Essentially, it is about building wealth and equity for every piece in the system.” - Martin Ping








, t s u J a r o f t s i Shopping L tem s y S d o o F e l Equitab builds t a h t m e t s y s Creating a volved in ll a r fo h lt a we


The Corbin Hill Food Project supplies “fresh food to those who need it most” through their Farm Share Program. They distribute local, farm fresh food from predominantly blackowned farms and cooperatives to communities throughout New York City with the goal of achieving food sovereignty, racial equity, and community ownership. The Farm Share Program aligns with Corbin Hill’s mission of creating community wealth and building decision making power in Black and Latinx communities. The Program was designed to meet the needs of low-income communities through nutritious foods and flexible, affordable prices. Unlike other Farm Share programs, Corbin Hill’s program only requires Shareholders to pay for their ‘share’ one week in advance of the pick-up. Focused on the integral connection between food and culture, Corbin Hill tries to source food items that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. They supply from local food suppliers, both small and mid-size farms in the Northeast region. Most of their products come from

New York State, though they also purchase from farms in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Unlike the traditional soup-kitchen model, Corbin Hill Food Project purchases produce and food products from farms and cooperatives thereby supporting and building wealth for small and mid-size local farms. They receive funding from the Department of Youth and Community Development to subsidize their share prices so that people can participate in the farm share program regardless of financial hardships.

Alexis Young

SHOPPING LIST We had the chance to connect with Alexis Young - a college student at Columbia University who has worked with Corbin Hill Food Project in various roles for the past few years. She spoke to us about how Corbin Hill’s FarmShare Program works to build an equitable system through supporting land acquisition for farming by Black and Lantinx folks, the transportation and distribution of healthy, locally sourced food products to low income communities, and direct conversations and collaborations with low-incomes communities to support their decisions on their food. This shopping list was created out of the informative, fascinating conversation we had with Lexi. DESCISION MAKING POWER Communities have the power to decide where their food comes from and what kinds of food are available SPACES FOR DISCUSSIONS SURROUNDING POLICY Building the space for consumers to discuss and dictate policy agendas that will best serve their community RACIAL EQUITY Policy makers who are committed to: amplifying the voices and opinions of BIPOC communities dismantling the systems that currently oppress BIPOC citizens SELF DETERMINATION Agency and autonomy for community members over what is available to purchase and what is being delivered to them

CHEF’S NOTE: LOUISE NOEL We also had the chance to connect with Louise Noel, who has been a community chef at Corbin Hill Food Project for close to 10 years in addition to a Nutritionist and Personal Chef. Louise began working with Corbin Hill to come up with recipes that were relevant for the seasonal produce shared throughout the year at the distribution sites. Before the pandemic, there were 22 sites throughout the boroughs, with the exception of Staten Island. (Today, only two of those sites remain open: Riverside Church in Manhattan and Brotherhood Sister Sol.) Louise spent most of her time at sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx where she would demonstrate the preparation of recipes for shareholders. Louise has always been focused on teaching communities about the preparation of a variety of vegetables that were seasonal and nutritious. Using her background in nutrition science, Louise would help people explore new vegetables and understand the health benefit of home cooked meals. She loved to work in person with community members because she sees firsthand how much they appreciated having fresh food and their increasing interest in eating vegetables with their families and loved ones. Louise’s demonstrations empowered community members with the knowledge they needed to transform raw produce into delicious family meals. In our conversation, Louise reminisced about the relationships she built through the FarmShare program and the motivational conversations she had with shareholders at the distribution sites. The distribution sites fostered community discussions about policies surrounding food issues and spread helpful information to members. Since the pandemic has hit, Louise has been unable to continue her in-person demonstrations. Her work has moved to the Corbin Hill Food Project website where she continues to share seasonal and nutritious recipes. (See Louise’s Carribean family recipe on page 18.) Louise Noel


THE HUNTS POINT DISTRIBUTION HUB: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION We had the opportunity to go and visit Hunts Point, New York City’s main food distribution center, which provides roughly 60% of the food products to the city’s residents. More than 5.7 million tons of domestic and international food shipments go through Hunts Point into New York City, going overseas, on rails, and by roads from farms, fisheries, and factories to the ajr distribution hub. Within 50 miles of Hunts Point Market, there are nearly 30 million people who receive food from this center. The Market center is made up of over 155 public and private wholesalers that are divided into three independent cooperative Markets: the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Hunts Point Cooperative Meat Market, and the New Fulton Fish Market. The businesses within these three markets, many of which have been handed down through generations*, sell to all kinds of customers, from restaurants and chefs, to big name grocery stores such as Whole Foods, to individual customers, generating over $3 billion in sales annually. We had the privilege of learning from a partner in each of the three markets. * see page 88 for more information on the generational dynamic often present in the food business


West Washington Market, 1936


Gansevoort Market, 1886


HUNTS POINT MARKET The history of food distribution in NYC is long and complex. The creation of the Hunts Point market by “master builder” Robert Moses, beginning in the 1950s, represented a modern consolidation of a historical food delivery system that until that point had resisted centralization.

ington Market was always bustling, vibrant and active The Gansevoort Market similarly began as a open-air farmers market that was a hub of activity. Harper’s Weekly described the market in 1888,

In response, the City opened up indoor wholesale and retail markets in the 19th century. Among the first was the Washington Market, opened in 1812 and operated until the 1960s, when it was lost to urban redevelopment. It was one of the several markets all over Manhattan that sold fresh produce to city residents. It was revolutionary at the time because it made it easier for people to get all of their food provisions from one central location. Though it began at a small neighborhood scale, Washington Market grew to eventually encompass several city blocks. Some called it a city within a city. Much like the outdoor pushcart markets, the Wash-

Consolidation also hit the pushcarts. In the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia began an initiative to move the pushcart vendors into indoor spaces like Essex Street Market. The pushcarts and peddlers were organized into open-air markets throughout the city- such as the Essex Street Market, on the Lower east Side, and La Marqueta in East Harlem- and by 1933, about 15,000 peddlers were recognized by the city and licensed. The construction of the Bronx Terminal Market, in 1938, was another attempt to get pushcart vendors off the streets and to streamline their trade. Overtime, it evolved into an enormous wholesale market and continued to operate until 2004.

“During the dark hours of early morning, as hundreds of wagons of all descriptions In the 19th century, and well into the 20th, converge upon the market regions, pandemany residents in Lower Manhattan pur- monium reigns as traffic chokes the thorchased produce locally from pushcart ped- oughfares for blocks around.” dlers. Distributors would sell produce in carts and wagons directly to residents and retailers. The original Fulton Fish Market was opened Pushcart markets were very common and in 1807]. It operated in lower Manhattan, crowded the already congested sidewalks. near South Street Seaport, near the Brooklyn Most urban neighborhoods depended on Bridge, until 2005 when it moved to Hunts the local outdoor marketplaces for much of Point. It is the oldest and largest wholesale their shopping. By the mid-nineteenth cen- fish market in the country with 38 wholesaltury, lower Manhattan had become crowded ers and over 650 employees. There was also and filthy; the outdoor marketplaces were a a wholesale market at Fulton Street that dishealth hazard that struggled to keep up with tributed a variety of goods, including meat, the growing demands for fresh produce. dairy and produce.


Hester Street, 1898. Vendors on Hester Street purchased their goods at the big wholesale markets like Gansevoort, and served immigrant shoppers. The first pushcarts appeared on Hester Street in 1866. The wholesale activities in the Washington, Gansevoort and Fulton Markets began to move to Hunts Point in 1962. Under the direction of Robert Moses, the city built Hunts Point Terminal Market to have a centralized location and transportation process that would make food distribution more efficient. This was part of a larger postwar effort to zone cities and make them ore efficient, especially for the trucking transport that was rapidly overtaking rail. The City wanted to consolidate the food industry - produce, dairy, fish, and meat markets - into one centralized location that was accessible by highways.

in the South Bronx. The market is home to 47 merchants of ranging size and captures an estimated 22% of regional wholesale produce sales (which is equivalent to approximately 60% of the produce sales within New York City). The Cooperative Meat Market, which occupies 40 acres of land, was opened in 1974. The Meat Market is home to 51 meat merchants and supplies meat and meat products to the tri-state area and other distribution channels nationwide. The Fulton Fish Market is the most recent arrival, leaving its historic home at South Street in 2006 The city of New York is the landlord for the three major markets within Hunts Point and also leases additional space to large vendors The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market such as Baldor, Anheuser-Busch, and Dairywas opened in 1967 and occupies 105 acres land.

Hunts Point’s Vulnerability (Adapted from Dr. Alexina Cather’s article “Hunts Point Distribution Center”)


New York City is one of the 10 cities most vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels according to the New York Academy of Sciences. The Hunts Points Food Distribution Center is located on a peninsula in the South Bronx. This location leaves Hunts Point extremely vulnerable to the impacts of our changing climate. One intense natural disaster could seriously harm the enormous supply of food that travels through Hunts Point daily. For example, a natural disaster could cause Hunts Point to lose refrigeration for an extended period of a time, causing a significant amount of food to spoil. Hunts Point is responsible for the distribution of 60% of New York City’s produce, as well as fish and meat. Other than Hunts Point’s precarious location, the magnitude of energy required to keep its large premise running is a vulnerability on its own. Power outages are significant and pose a serious threat to the hub as well as local residents and businesses. Impacts of climate change will truly test the resilience of such a large scale distribution center like Hunts Point.

The Hunts Point peninsula Photo from NYCEDC

The Fulton Fish Market in 2020 Photo from Untapped New York

Excerpt from

“The Hunts Point Neighborhood”

Article by Dr. Alexina Cather

Exploring the Lack of Healthy Food Access in a Neighborhood Filled with Fruits and Vegetable "Coexisting in a neighborhood marked by income inequality and health inequities, the Food Distribution Center as a whole occupies 329 acres, nearly half of the entire Hunts Point Peninsula. But because it operates on the wholesale level, it does not ensure either food security or access to healthy foods for the residents of the Hunts Point community. In fact, for the more than 54,000 people living in the Hunts Point and neighboring Longwood neighborhoods, supermarket access is limited to only 114 square feet of space per 100 people. Only seventy-seven percent of Hunts Point and Longwood adults consume at least one fruit or vegetable per day, compared to 82 percent of all Bronx residents and 88 percent of NYC residents in general. Thirty-three percent of Hunts Point and Longwood residents are obese, and 15 percent are diabetic, both of which are higher than the citywide rate. It is the third poorest area of NYC, with 43 percent of residents living below the Federal Poverty Level."


Creating a Workplace that Contributes to a Sustainable Food System

After speaking with vendors at Hunts Point, our last stop was a meeting with the leaders of the Teamsters Local 202. The local union is part of the Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents 120,000 workers in Downstate New York and Puerto Rico. The Joint Council 16 is part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with over 1.4 million members. The group considers itself “America’s strongest and most diverse union.”

Teamsters 202’s members are workers in the food transportation and distribution industry in NYC though the majority of the members work in the fresh food industry. Historically, “teamsters” originally drove “teams” of horses to pull carts through the city, delivering produce and other products. New York City Teamsters began to organize themselves in the early 1900s and joined fellow workers from across the country to form the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1903. The Teamsters Local 202 at the Hunts Point The Teamsters Local 202 recently (in JanuNY Terminal Market is the largest of the ary 2021) won a week-long strike at Hunts groups with over 1,400 members. Many of Point to approve a new union contract with the largest raises in the history of their bargaining unit. New Yorkers interact with Teamsters every day; they are responsible for creating and moving the food and goods that New Yorkers rely on every day. To gain a better understanding of just labor in the food system, we needed to speak with the Hunts Point Teamsters. We spoke with Daniel J. Kane Jr., the president of the Local 202, and Leo Servedio, the Vice President of the Local 202, a month after the historic win. Dan has been a member of the Local 202 for 36 years. Through our conversation, we were able to glean the elements it takes to create a just, sustainable workplace. Items like clean working conditions, living wages, and so much more that we will explore.



Photo by Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY


1 Organized Workers Union 1 Fair Contract between workers and companies Safe and Clean working conditions Public Investment in Labor Issues Healthcare Job Security

CityGalz visiting with Daniel J. Kane Jr. and Leo Servedio


1. Companies and laborers agree to both sign contract written by union 2. Contract must include: clean working conditions, living wages, healthcare and benefits, job security 3. Civil Rights for workers must be at the forefront of this conversation 4. Have companies set up labor work in a way that allows for both career mobility and socioeconomic mobility through employment 5. Through union and companies, educate the general public on the importance of public investment in labor issues and rights 6. Educate both workers and owners about work safety protocols and working rights 7. Have union advocate for workers’ protection and enforce companies’ commitment to just labor contracts 8. From ensuring that workers are taking their allocated lunch breaks to ensuring that their workplace is clean and safe 9. Constant check-ins by Union with workers to ensure their needs are being met 10. Continuous reassessment of conditions, adjusting contracts and demands as time goes on to ensure ongoing justice for food laborers 11. Reassess wages as demands change 12. Reassess working conditions as state of world changes 13. Amidst the pandemic, the Teamsters had a successful strike, which was brought about because of the unjust wages they were being paid while doing brave, challenging work during a global pandemic 14. Build internal solidarity and social power both within the union and within the food industry by prioritizing the rights and needs of labor workers in this part of the food industry.


CHEF’S NOTE: Why is just labor important for just food? • Workers in all fields deserve a safe environment with living wages and good benefits that facilitate a strong connection to the work they do - especially food workers. These people continue to work throughout most, if not all conditions, because their work is what feeds millions of Americans every day • The main element that controls sustainability of food distribution or production, in terms of how long a system can sustain itself, is the way that its workers are treated. In order to continue to feed the country, and do so in a way that is just for everyone in the process of getting that food to someone’s plate, workers’ rights must continuously be prioritized. • Part of creating a just food system is treating workers sustainably in terms of the wages, so that they too can have a say in the food system through their spending. To learn more about the Local 202, visit their website at teamsters.nyc/locals/local-202/

Local 202 Teamsters on Strike in January 2021. Photo from The New York Times

HOW TO BE AN INFORMED MEAT BUYER FROM SETH MOSNER OF MOSNER MEATS Mosner Family Brands, established in 1957, is a third-generation family-owned meat purveyor based in the Bronx, NY. David Mosner, the son of Eastern European immigrants and grandfather of Seth, started the company in 1957. Starting as one of the original Hunts Point renters, the company has grown and transformed greatly since then. After being passed down to David’s two sons, the company is now in its third generation of family management. Mosner Meats now offers a full portfolio of fabrication services to its retail, foodservice and e-commerce customers, including beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry and exotic game meats. We got the chance to speak to Seth Mosner, third generation management at Mosner Meats. He told us the story of how his family got to where they are now, and the way the specific business practices of Mosner Meats have made them such a long-standing, well-respected brand. One of the only meat distributors in Hunts Point that still fabricates off the entire meat carcass and thus has very little product waste, Mosner Meats represents yet another side of sustainable practices. These questions and ideas were gleaned from a couple of conversations we had with Seth, who also spoke to us specifically about the consumer role in the meat industry moving forward.


The following are questions that not everybody has the privilege to think about. Because of the way our food system is set up, more ethical, sustainable meats are not available to everyone. We encourage those who can to think about these as they shop. In addition, we encourage those who can think about why it is that they have this privilege and why so many others do not.

Questions to ask to be a conscious, ethical meat consumer:



What are the benefits and consequences of cheap meat and poultry? Can I afford to purchase meat and poultry in a manner that aligns with my values towards animal welfare, environmental impact, and sustainability? Why can’t everyone afford to purchase sustainable meat?


The consumer, who supports markets with their spending, shares in the responsibility to ensure that the industry shifts and offers products according to one’s own values.


While the consumer has responsibility, ethically-sourced meat is out of many Americans' budgets; consciousness is important, and so is understanding that not all have the privilege to shop how they would like to. This is an essential understanding to have when looking at this topic.


We must look at the systems that have made this hardship a reality, and never judge the choices of others.

Is the price of this meat reasonable? Do I think that both the animals and the employees who made this are being treated fairly, given the price tag?



What doesn’t this label tell me about the meat product I’m buying?

a b


Though there are flaws in the industry, the buyer is also culpable for supporting unethical business practices. When we really think about it, what are the effects of a $1 burger?

Animal protein can be free-range or grass-fed, but how it is raised beside that qualifier can vary greatly. It may not always be exactly what you associate with these attributes. The few inches that a company has on animal protein packaging are highly regulated. The USDA wants to keep customers informed but regulated claims can also be confusing and easily misunderstood.

Is the price of this meat reasonable? Do I think that both the animals and the employees who made this are being treated fairly, given the price tag?


It is easy to assume that because meat is from a more expensive restaurant or a nice meal-kit, it is of very high quality. Double check the sourcing of meats in situations like these, if possible.



Is it worth it to buy the cheaper meat, when I know the lower price tag on my end comes at a cost on the farmers’ and laborers’ ends? How do I want to prioritize my budget? Are there other forms of protein I can get that raise fewer ethical concerns?



There are many other sources of protein that do not come from animal products; these may have less ethical and environmental consequences, but it is always important to do research about any products consumed. Every product has an impact on the planet.

How is meat that is raised in a less humane way going to affect my own health?


There are not only consequences for the animals, farmers, and laborers who raise and package this meat, there also can be effects on the consumer’s health; while the industry has made great strides in the balance of high output and welfare, meat and poultry that has been administered antibiotics or hormones or fed a less traditional diet for that animal, can affect the customer’s health in the long-term.

There are flaws in the meat industry. It is also miraculous that the world has come up with a system to feed so many people such an important part of a diet in such an accessible, affordable way. While we can choose for ourselves, we cannot judge others for their decisions.




With David Samuels of Blue Ribbon Fish Company

One cold morning this March, around 5 a.m., we were lucky enough to get to speak to David Samuels, current owner and operator of Blue Ribbon Fish. Blue Ribbon Fish is a company that provides fish to much of New York City and is known for careful sourcing, high quality, and freshness. Blue Ribbon has been family owned and operated since 1931, when it opened as a part of Old Fulton Market on South Street in Manhattan. Today Blue Ribbon is located in Hunts Point, along with other distributors of fresh fish, meat and produce serving NYC. 90 years after Blue Ribbon’s opening, David Samuels and his cousin Warren Kremin carry on the tradition and legacy from their parents. When we visited, we were also lucky enough to meet David’s son, Noah Samuels, who has decided to come back to the family business, after working on Wall Street. Today, Blue Ribbon Fish provides fish and seafood from around the world, researching new ways to provide seafood to customers and connecting with the most respected, responsible fisheries. The company continues to cultivate its decade-old relationships within the seafood supply chain and strives to remain a national leader in the industry. Today, Blue Ribbon connects clients all down the east coast to premium products from the Earth's most pristine seas. Their clientele spans from grocery empires to diners, proudly servicing New York's premiere dining locales while also making the ultimate freshness available to all.

CityGalz speaking with David Samuels

INGREDIENTS • Knowledge of different water use for different protein types • Sustainable form of transportation • Alternative types of containers for protein transport • Enlightened providers, such as Hiddenfjord in the Faroe Islands • Renewable energy • Education for buyers & consumers

DIRECTIONS 1. Be intentional and careful with use of natural resources for farming protein - fish over beef 2. Ground beef uses 1800 tons of water to produce 1 pound, while salmon uses 0 3. Transport sustainably - transport by boat rather than plane, which greatly lowers the transportation’s carbon footprint, even if it is slower 4. With boats, styrofoam is often used in order to transport because of its low weight and great insulation abilities - this material is often hard if it all possible to recycle 5. Find alternative to styrofoam packaging, in order to make boat transport even more sustainable 6. Power all fishing, transport, and distribution practices with renewable energy 7. One company that Blue Ribbon Fish works with, HiddenFjord Salmon, who seek to power all their operations, including eventually their transport by boat, with renewable energy 8. Educate buyers on the merits of fish over beef 9. The use of water in beef production vs fish 10. Can be more sustainably transported



Food Stories of G e





Why are businesses passed down from generation to generation so common in the food industry?

We expected that many members of the second- and third-generation in family-owned food businesses might seek other occupations, as this is a cliché of American immigrant stories, But in our conversations with people all throughout the food supply system, we came across many people who had taken over from their parents or grandparents. Indeed, this became a recurring motif in our conversations with our partners. Wilson Tang, current owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, came into the business because of his uncle. Jake Dell, current owner of Katz’s Deli, took over after his father. Daniel Calano-Moore, current owner of Madonia Bakery, is a fourth-generation baker there. Stefanie Katzman, current owner of Katzman’s Produce at Hunts Point Market, took over after her father.

a bachelor's degree in Business or Finance, and went on to work in the business world. But, the similarities don’t end here. After working in Finance or business for a few years, they each decided to shift their career and go back into the family food business.

The overwhelming reason we heard for people to return back to their family’s businesses was that they felt it was more meaningful. The people we spoke to said that they felt they were really making a difference, making people happy, through their work in the food business. Being able to interact with people and give them joy in such a unique way isn’t always easy to find through one’s work. But these folks have found it in their family’s food businesses. So, maybe that’s what keeps generations returning to this industry: the ability to foster joy for others in While our sample size is small, the anecdotal an incredibly unique and meaningful way. evidence is strong, and we have some hypotheses to explain this phenomenon. There In the following paragraphs, we explore were interesting similarities between all of some of the young people today who have these individuals. Most of them attended a taken on their family’s food businesses. prestigious college or university, received




Located at 13 Doyers Street, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is located in the historical Chinatown neighborhood of the Lower East Side. Opening as a bakery and tea parlor in 1920, Nom Wah is the oldest restaurant in Chinatown. Today, it is still a neighborhood staple and now also an international brand, offering a variety of fresh Chinese pastries, steamed buns, dim sum, and, of course, tea.

a true example of starting from the bottom and working your way up.

In the early 2000s, Wilson decided to leave his job in the world of finance. After surviving the devastating attacks of 9/11, the second of which hit the building he was working in at the time, Wilson took a look at his career, deciding it wasn’t the work environment he wanted to be in any longer. In We had the opportunity to speak with the 2011, Uncle Wally pitched the idea to Wilson current owner of Nom Wah, Wilson Tang, to take over the restaurant. In the ten years who has been running the restaurant since since Wilson took over, he has expanded 2011. Wilson Tang’s Uncle Wally began work- the Nom Wah brand to several other locaing at Nom Wah as a dishwasher when he tions in Nolita, Philadelphia, and even Shenimmigrated to New York City from China in zhen, China. In the fall, Wilson released Nom the 1950s, at the age of sixteen . With time, Wah’s first cookbook to celebrate 100 years Uncle Wally worked his way up from dish- in Chinatown. Through all of this expansion, washer to cook, to waiter, to owning Nom Wilson has remained fervently committed to Wah. Within twenty years, Uncle Wally saved preserving the traditions and recipes of the enough money to buy the entire building restaurant. along with the Nom Wah business. He was

I was given this opportunity to save this historic place in New York and something that’s of old New York. New York is constantly changing. It’s changing by the minute. It was such a good feeling to come in and stop time a little bit. My uncle was a penny-pincher. He did not change anything in this restaurant and thank goodness for that. This is straight out of a time warp. It feels like a 1950s diner look. It’s such an honor to maintain something like this for the 10 years that I’ve done it.” - Wilson Tang

In speaking with Wilson, it was clear the unique way that his restaurant, and many Chinatown restaurants, are able to be sustainable in a unique sense. As we walked through Chinatown, many dollies with boxed groceries, as well as people carrying them by hand, passed by us. Wilson explained that these people are all taking produce and ingredients from one place in Chinatown to another. He explained that instead of buying from separate food suppliers all over the city, the majority of Chinatown restaurants and grocery stores get their products from one distributor who comes directly to Chinatown every week.


croeconomy that we witnessed in the street. This practice has happened for many years, and is representative of how Chinatown has maintained its traditions in the face of a changing city and world. Not only does this practice maintain tradition, it’s also incredibly sustainable - it has businesses and residents participating more in their local economy and making less food waste. Grocers and restaurants get what they need, and not much more. If the restaurants run out of an ingredient, they’re often turning to the grocery down the street, as opposed to a larger retailer. This model is sustainable in the way that it supports the smaller businesses throughout Chinatown and encourages Once the goods are delivered, restaurants and residents to buy the ingredithey are distributed through- ents that they need, no more, no less. out the area, creating the mi-

Low Waste Dim Sum AND a Sustainable, Local Food Delivery System This recipe serves as a guide; many of the unique practices at Nom Wah and in Chinatown could be mimicked in other areas, to create a more sustainable food system.


1 small dim sum restaurant (with a strong reputation) Loyal local and regional customers 1 weekly delivery of Chinese groceries 1 tight knit community of Chinese Immigrants 1+ refrigerators 2+ walk-in freezers


1. Receive ingredients weekly from delivery of Chinese groceries, which supplies majority of Chinatown 2. Distribute all product within 5 blocks, amongst Chinese retailers and restaurants in Chinatown 3. Transport throughout Chinatown mostly by dolly or by hand 4. Prepare dim sum dishes ahead of time and store in 1 of freezers or refrigerators 5. As food is ordered, take out what is need*ed per customer from freezer and refrigerators, only cooking what is needed per order* 6. Enjoy your dim sum, while feeling confident in the sustainable use of resources by Nom Wah! At traditional dim sum halls, food is served from a cart, thus cannot be made to order and is prone to creating more food waste


Daniel Mario Calano-Moore MADONIA BAKERY

Madonia Bakery is an Italian bakery on Ar“We’ve survived a pandemic in 1918, we surthur Ave, in the Bronx, that was created in vived wars, we survived the Bronx burning in 1918. Arthur Ave, better known as the Little the 70s. We survived it all. A lot of businessItaly of the Bronx, is filled with Italian venes here have. So listening to what came bedors and restaurants that have been in the fore you and why they lasted so long, but also area for generations and are run by Itallistening to your customers and listening to ian-American immigrants. The area repwhat’s out there. Listening to other neighborresents a different kind of NYC; it upholds a hoods, other conversations going on, being sentiment and tradition that has been lost in able to stay in fighting shape...something’s many other parts of the city. For the past 103 working here. Something’s special here.” years, the Madonia bakery has been serving -Daniel Calano-Moore traditional Italian pastries and baked goods, and we had the pleasure of speaking to Daniel Mario Calano-Moore, a fourth generation maintenance of tradition, and an immense sense of pride for what they do. And yet, Mabaker at the bakery. donia is unique in all of this still. While Nom Daniel and his family’s story is unique and Wah, Katz’s Deli, and Katzman produce have universal all at once. The bakery is on Arthur all shifted to catering to a greater set of cusAvenue, an area that has maintained much tomers - Madonia maintains its tradition in tradition over many decades. His story, in its customer base. It hasn’t grown to become many ways, represents that of many gen- a nationally recognized brand, one that proerational food businesses; a young fami- vides restaurants all over NYC, but instead, ly member returning to the business after has maintained the same customer base it pursuing other work, a strong emphasis on has had for years. This speaks to sustainability in yet another sense. Having loyal customers who come from nearby allows for more sustainable transportation. People don’t come from afar for Madonia’s breads, though it would make sense if they did. Because of this, their product isn’t putting too many more miles on their food. People come from around the area, buy what they need, and return home, sometimes on foot. The longest distance that retail customers travel is a round-trip from the NYC suburbs. Madonia is sustainable in how it lets customers approach it they come from close-by, they buy what they need, and they hopefully don’t use too much fuel in the process. It also sustains an intricate micro-ecology of wholesale and retail relationships in Arthur Avenue. Daniel Calano-Moore


Stefanie Katzman KATZMAN PRODUCE

Stefanie Katzman is Executive Vice President and fourth generation in her family’s 100-year-old business at S. Katzman Produce, a leading produce wholesaler/distributor based in New York City. Katzman Produce began in the 1890s when Samuel Katzman, a first generation Russian immigrant, started his small produce business in Tribeca. With just a horse and wagon, he sold seven items: collard greens, kale, mustard, turnip tops, yams, jumbo yams, and Hanover turnips. During the 1930s, the business relocated to the Washington Street Market and sold wholesale out of a store on West Street. Harold Katzman, Samuel’s son, took over the business from his father in the 1950s. When Hunts Point Market opened in 1967, Harold moved Katzman Produce up to the Bronx. Harold’s son, Stephen, took the business on

next and expanded the business, supplying over 300 million pounds of fresh produce across New York State a year. Today, Stephanie Katzman, Stephen’s daughter, runs the business. She started working at Katzman Produce in 2001. Stephanie joins many others at Hunts’ Point who have stepped into the business of the family members who have come before. She started working at the family business while she was in college and during summers. By the time she graduated, Stefanie says, she was hooked. She loves everything about the business: the energy of the produce business, the friendly and passionate people in the industry, and the opportunity to grow her family’s legacy.

Stefanie Katzman


One thing sets Stephanie apart in this landscape still - the fact that she’s one of the only women leading the forces within the giant food distribution hub. Stephanie is also the first woman of her own family to take the reins of the company, one which continues to thrive under her management. Being the boss’s daughter, Stefanie got her foot in the door, but even being a member of the family presented a challenge, along with overcoming the difficulties that come with being a woman in an industry dominated by men. She learned early on that she was going to need to work extra hard to prove to her team that she could hold her own, indeed overperform many of her male colleagues. She also quickly came to see that it was very important to make good first impressions. To Stefanie, that means sometimes doing more listening than talking to earn her credibility in the business. As a manager and owner she has expanded the presence of women, both in the office (upstairs)and on the floor (where produce is stored and distributed) As Stefanie continues to expand the company’s customer base further, she remains

CityGalz with Stefanie Katzman

passionate and loyal to the relationships that the company runs on. Stephanie asserts that what keeps her in the business is the relationships she, and her family, have built over the years with their workers, customers, and partners. Stefanie has continued to foster and maintain the same close ties with her growers and shippers that her father and grandfather fostered a long time ago. Katzman Produce, in its more than 100year history, has operated through some of the worst crises this country has ever seen: the Great Depression, World War II, and today, the COVID-19 Pandemic. The family's commitment to ‘keeping people fed’ has kept them resilient throughout hard times. Although there have been clear challenges, Katzman Produce is one of the largest produce distributors in the Hunts Point Marketplace. With their continued growth, they still remain dedicated to delivering high quality produce and fair prices. They consider themselves to be not much different from when Samuel Katzman opened with just a horse and wagon in the 1890s. The wagon is just bigger now.



Katz’s Delicatessen is a Jewish Deli that was started in 1888, by the Iceland Brothers, and went by the name of Iceland Brothers. Willy Katz joined the operation in 1903, and the name became Iceland & Katz. Willy was soon joined by his cousin Benny, who bought out the Iceland brothers, thus officially creating Katz’s Deli. The cousin duo’s landsman, Harry Tarowsky, bought into the partnership in 1917. After being passed down through the second generation of both the Katz family and the Tarowsky family, the two families realized they had no immediate family of their own to whom they could leave the store. They chose to bring in a friend and restaurateur, Martin Dell and his son Alan Dell. Jake officially joined his father, Alan, in 2009 and is now in charge of all major operations. Only having moved once, across the street, in its entire career, this deli has withstood the test of time in every aspect of its existence. With the same recipes, interior, and atmosphere as in 1910, Katz’s is the perfect example of the generational nature of the restaurant business.

Through a changing neighborhood, city, and world, Katz’s Deli has been able to maintain every aspect that makes it so special; Katz’s is located in the Lower East Side neighborhood, a place that used to be home to many newly immigrated families, especially Jewish, and is now an ethnically and socio-economically diverse community. Not only does the deli continue to maintain its loyal, long-time supporters within these neighborhood changes, but they are constantly bringing in new customers, whether it be tourists or people that have recently moved to the neighborhood. Katz’s Deli represents an aspect of the food system that is key in food justice and access, which is sustainability. Not necessarily through its use of ingredients, so much as its business practices. Part of creating a sustainable food system is creating a sustainable environment for workers in the food industry. Jake Dell made it abundantly clear that part of what makes Katz’s such a well-oiled machine is the relationship between owner and employees and the work environment, both of which have kept employees coming back for generations. Dell made it clear that without his employees he would be nothing, and this is greatly reflected in the work environment he hopes to create. In order to create a more just food system, the treatment of the workers in the system must be a part of the conversation and, at Katz’s Deli, it is.

Jake Dell at Katz's Deli


Maintaining a Long-Standing & Sustainable Family Restaurant We had the pleasure of speaking to Jake Dell, who is the current owner of Katz’s Deli, following in the footsteps of his own father. He talked to us about the generations at work in Katz’s Deli, both on the ownership team and among the employees. This recipe is a product of the fascinating conversation we shared with Jake.


Highest quality food product Time Persistence through hard times Ability to adjust quickly and with ease Maintenance of quality and tradition Trust that comes from consistent quality and service An individual who cares, to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors Thick skin Dependable staff, treated like family Safe and friendly workplace


1. Start by producing the highest quality product possible, in this case brisket (second only to your Bubby’s) 2. Allow time for the business to grow, and have faith in the quality of the product, even when times feel doubtful 3. Continue to focus and prioritize the quality of your product, no matter what happens in business 4. Build a staff you can depend on, and in turn, appreciate and do right by them* 5. Once business has existed and succeeded for generations, choose to pursue tradition over trend 6. Pass the business onto an individual who cares and wants to care about the legacy 7. Repeat steps 1-6 to create a tradition-upholding, iconic NYC institution. *Katz’s has generational employees as well as ownership-3 current managers are at least second generation employees at the deli

“You're nothing without your customers and you are nothing without your staff” - Jake Dell

So why is it interesting that family buisnesses are so common in the food industry?

Through all of these conversations, we’ve begun to understand the overall reason people keep coming back to their family’s food businesses. Though each story is unique in many senses, we’ve gleaned a common thread. The work is meaningful, challenging, rewarding, and, even more than all of that, this work encourages and creates opportunities for meaningful relationships - strong, dedicated relationships that have a real impact. Whether these be between customer, laborer, waiter, manager, or owner, these relationships are part of creating change in the food system. In this building of trust and companionship comes resilience in the workforce, passion in the production, and intention in the consumer-base.


increasing food access to NYC residents

GrowNYC is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving New York City through environmental programs. Born out of the energy of the first Earth Day, the organization was originally created in 1970 as the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC). Initially a policy-based organization, they wrote reports on issues in the city such as traffic, noise, and air quality. As the city grew, GrowNYC grew with it, becoming the largest environmental organization in NYC and taking action in all five boroughs. More than 20% of all New York City residents are living at or below the poverty level. Many of those residents do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled to purchase food. GrowNYC’s Food Access and Agriculture Program focuses on supporting regional farms and creating equitable access to fresh food grown on those farms to all NYC residents. To achieve their goal of making regionally-produced food accessible, GrowNYC partners with organizations and departments around the city to fund nutrition benefit programs for residents. In addition, they partner with community-based organizations to provide SNAP screenings (for residents to learn if they are eligible for SNAP) at Greenmarket locations between June and October with the hope of reaching individuals who are qualified for supplemental assistance but are unaware of their qualification. Some partners include NYS Department of Health, New York State Agriculture and Markets, Stellar Farmers Markets, Cor-


nell Cooperative Extension, Live Healthy!, and Novo Dia Group. Their programs range from nutrition benefits, incentive coupons, and credit cards. GrowNYC is most well known for their food retail programs (Greenmarkets, Fresh Food Boxes, and Farmstands) as well as their Urban Farm Education programs. Since 1976, GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets have prompted regional agriculture and ensured a continuous supply of local produce to all New Yorkers. The markets operate within 4 out of 5 boroughs of New York City and support farmers and preserve farmland for the future by providing regional farmers with op- portunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other products at our open-air farmers markets throughout New York City. Through Fresh Food Box, customers pay one week in ad- vance for a pre-assembled box of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables grown primarily by regional farmers and sourced through GrowNYC Wholesale. Through Farmstands, GrowNYC trains and employs young people to sell fresh, affordable food in neighborhoods across NYC. The food sold at Farmstands is grown by farm- ers in the Northeast and transparently sourced through GrowNYC Wholesale. GrowNYC is committed to educating the students of NYC schools about their food. Their educational initiatives include the Governors Island Teaching Garden, which is an 8,000 square food urban farm that aims to educate NYC public school students in all aspects of urban farming. Read more about the teaching garden on page 46.

GrowNYC's Food Access Locations 2021 2021









We had the chance to explore the Union Square Greenmarket with Susie Spodek, a Greenmarket Educator at GrowNYC. Susie shared with us the history and inner workings of the Union Square Greenmarket, the largest market in the city. The market began with only a few farmers in 1976. Today, in its peak season, 140 regional farmers, fishers, and bakers sell their products to dedicated city residents, who come from all over the 5 boroughs to experience the abundance. The market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays year round. As the largest greenmarket within the city, the market is also home to a compost food scrap collection site, clothing collection site, and a GrowNCY Grandstand.

“We create opportunities for all New Yorkers to be active participants in creating an equitable food system that supports small farms and keeps people and the planet healthy.” - GrowNYC


DEFINITIONS GREENMARKET a network of over 50 farmers markets across the 5 boroughs of New York City. They provide direct retail opportunities for farmers and community residents. FRESH FOOD BOX a collective purchasing program that enables communities to purchase produce well below traditional retail prices. Customers pay one week in advance for a pre-assembled box of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables grown primarily by regional farmers and sourced through GrowNYC Wholesale. FARMSTANDS sell aggregated local, seasonal produce sourced from GrowNYC Wholesale. They are usually staffed by local youth.



50 Greenmarkets* 15 Farmstands 100 Engaged Volunteers 224 Regional Farmers and Food Producers 5-10 Fresh Food Box Distribution Sites 1 Nutrition Educator per Greenmarket Awareness of Seasonality *See map on page 99 of all locations


1. Create and cultivate lasting relationships with 200+ local farmers within a 150 mile radius who will continuously sell at GrowNYC Greenmarkets, making it a producer-only market a. By allowing for producers to sell directly to consumers, sellers can make a living wage and continue to produce sustainable food 2. Foster a growing understanding of seasonality through Greenmarkets, their advertising, and selection of what is naturally available in certain regions during certain times of the year a. A greater understanding of seasonality by the consumer fosters more sustainable consumption 3. At each Greenmarket, have a nutrition educator teach various programming such as cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal, regionally grown produce. a. GrowNYC partners with NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene along with other organizations to provide free, multilingual, nutrition education at their Greenmarkets. 4. Set up 15 Farmstands across four boroughs of NYC (Manhattan, The Bronx, Broolyn, and Queens) a. Source products at farmstand through GrowNYC Wholesale b. Train and employ youth all over the city to sell fresh, affordable food - teaching youth about nutritious food, providing fresh food across the city, and creating income for local Northeastern farms 5. Set up six Fresh Food Box Distribution Sites across four boroughs of NYC (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens) a. Have customers register and pay one week in advance for produce box made up primarily by produce from regional farmers b. In July through November, source from local Northeastern farms and in the winter and spring, source from vetted farms in southern states thus providing a wide variety of fresh produce while also driving the business of local food producers c. Halve the price for customers shopping with SNAP and EBT (see chef’s note) 6. Through various programs, allow community members to enjoy fresh produce, better educate themselves on sustainable and nutritious food, and support their local farmers!


To make the products and produce at the Greenmarkets and Farmstands more accessible to all New Yorkers, GrowNYC has partnered with the City and community-based organizations to enhance food access and benefit programs. The following programs are part of GrowNYC’s efforts to improve access to good food for low-income residents and provide revenue for the farming community. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and EBT is a federal program that helps low-income households purchase food. SNAP users access their benefits using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. • In addition to being used at markets. SNAP can be used to purchase any edible item at all GrowNYC Greenmarket, Farmstand, and Fresh Food Box locations. • In 2019, GrowNYC SNAP/EBT sales totaled $994,493 and Credit sales reached $1,520.410 Health Bucks are $2 coupons sponsored byThe New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. They can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at all NYC Farmers Markets. For every $5 spent using SNAP benefits, customers receive an additional $2 in Bucks, a 40% increase in purchase power. This incentive expands SNAP budgets and intends to encourage shoppers to spend more of their monthly food assistance allotments on fresh produce from the Greenmarkets. • In 2019, Greenmarkets and Farmstands distributed $390,952 in Health Bucks as a SNAP incentive. Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is a federally funded and state-wide program created to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to WIC participants and low-income seniors. FMNP checks are available at all Greenmarket and Farmstand locations. • In 2019, Greenmarket producers redeemed over $2.5 million in FMNP checks. FreshConnect Coupons are $2 coupons that can be used at Farmers Markets in New York State to purchase any SNAP eligible item. These coupons are distributed to military veterans, servicemembers, and members of their family at Division of Veteran’s Affairs offices. Greenmarket Bucks are $2 coupons that can be purchased by businesses, community-based organizations, and non-profit organizations as incentives or rewards for employees, customers, or community members. They are intended to introduce new customers to the fresh foods available at Farmers Markets and to increase revenue for producers.


There is rising food insecurity due to the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City. The rate of food insecurity in New York has risen to 25% since March 2020. In 2020, the New York City Council issued Pandemic EBT funds, which caused a significant increase in SNAP usage at GrowNYC sites. In 2020, sales at GrowNYC Food Retail Sites rose by 56%, from 2019, totalling more than $1,555,224. At some sites, daily SNAP sales reached over $6,000.

4. OUTSIDE Non-Profit, Mutual

La Morada Mott Haven, The Bronx


Aid and Advocacy Packing Food Bags for the Teen for Food Justice Free Distribution Site

STARTING A NEIGHBORHOOD FRIENDLY FRIDGE Daniel Zauderer and Charlotte Alverez, sixth grade teachers at the American Dream School in Mott Haven, recently launched the first community refrigerator in Mott Haven at the intersection of 141st Street and Saint Ann’s Avenue. The initial inspiration for the project came after Daniel learned that many of his students’ families didn’t have enough money for three meals a day. Many of his students’ families are undocumented and in precarious situations throughout the pandemic. Daniel and Charlotte initially teamed up to fundraise to buy food for his students. But when the money ran out, they knew they needed another approach. And so the Friendly Fridge was born. Daniel and Charlotte connected with local organizations, the Bronx Community Foundation, and Assembly Candidate Amanda Spetimo to establish the fridge. Since the opening of the fridge on September 25, 2020, a committed group of volunteers and residents have been caring for the fridge and encouraging their communities to use the fridge as well as to donate and help keep the fridge stocked and clean. Ruben “Chino” Calderon, who is a lifelong Mott Haven resident, is one of the locals who keeps an eye on the fridge almost daily (See photo of Chino below). He encourages people to “Take what they need and share what they can.”


Ruben "Chino" Calderon

Daniel Zauderer at the Mott Haven Friendly Fridge at the intersection of 141st Street and Saint Ann’s Avenue

We had the chance to meet with Daniel at the Fridge on 141st Street and Saint Ann’s Avenue. There we were able to learn more about Daniel’s efforts to open the fridge and meet some of the community members who clean and look after the fridge daily. This recipe for starting a Neighborhood Friendly Fridge was created as a collaboration between our team and Daniel Zauderer.


Any working refrigerator* One local bodega with an electricity hookup** One all-weather extension cord Tons of donated food A galaxy full of community engagement *Winterization shed and accompanying pantry preferred in colder climates **Recipe better with generous bodega owner


1. Find a bodega on a well trafficked street corner in a community where you live or work and get agreement to connect the fridge outside. 2. Locate fridge and secure transportation to new home 3. Transport fridge and use outdoor extension cord to connect fridge to new bodega home 4. Get local artist to paint fridge 5. Recruit volunteers and establish food donor / community partnerships (be sure to connect with other “fridge keepers”! They love to share!) 6. Stand by as your fridge gets filled, emptied, and taken care of by an army of community members, volunteers, and food donor partners 7. Engage community and unofficial block mayors to receive continued support for fridge project 8. Check daily to ensure cleanliness and ideal internal temperature 9. Welcome collaboration with fellow fridge keepers, politicians, community organizers, and many, many others. It takes a village!



Creating a Sucessful Mutual Aid Kitchen

La Morada is a restaurant and mutual aid kitchen in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. The award-winning, Oaxacan restaurant was founded by the Saavedra family in the early 2000s; we had the pleasure of speaking to Marco and Yajaira, the two youngest siblings of the Saavedra family. Marco immigrated to the US with his parents and two sisters when he was 3. Everyone in the family, except his younger sister, Yajaira, are undocumented; they have been fighting gentrification, deportations, and what they see as unjustified arrests through their restaurant, since the opening in 2009. Marco has been incredibly active in the fight against harsh crackdowns on unauthorized immigrants; he has turned himself into border agents to publicize conditions of detention centers, protested at the border, and fought for political asylum in federal immigration court. All with the support of the South Bronx community behind him, often convening in his family’s restaurant. After serving as an activist and community space since its doors first opened, La Morada quickly re-opened as a Mutual Aid Kitchen to provide food assistance to the Mott Haven community devastated by food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Savedra Family


This recipe was created as a collaboration between the CityGAP students and Yajaira Saavedra of La Morada.


1 family committed to empowering their community 2+ food distribution organizers 2 head chefs As much post-consumer food product as possible Ability to adapt on the fly Dedicated volunteers


1. Recognize need for grassroots help throughout your community 2. Build connections to receive food that is at end of its “life,” has been through grocery and one, if not more charities 3. Employ inventive chefs who adapt to resources and ingredients available 4. Bring in members of the community to help to prepare ingredients for cooking 5. In addition to preparing cooked meals, prepare food boxes and bags for community members with non-cooking ingredients 6. Help to feed those around you while simultaneously empowering your community!

y, Photo by David William



During our conversations with partners about addressing hunger in food-insecure areas, we recognized two approaches to confronting hunger: one grassroots approach rooted in local participation and empowerment that eschews most support from outside the community; another that establishes a collaboration between outside contributors, local volunteers, and local community. One might categorize these differing approaches as “Mutual Aid'' (exclusively local) and “Non-Profit” (accepting contributions from outside organizations and individuals). Some of those advocating for the Mutual Aid model see the Non-Profit model as too formalized and government dependent. The Non-Profit model relies more heavily on bringing outside money into a usually lower-income community; community members are often still involved, but have decreased decision-making power than with mutual aid. The Non-Profit model sees bringing in resources from the larger community as a more efficient and robust way to bring aid into a community quickly and at scale. The Mutual Aid approach focuses on building wealth all from within the community and cultivating community empowerment through resource sharing. They are funded from within the community and are inspired by horizontal solidarity rather than a sort of top-down charity. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to an increased consciousness of Mutual Aid. Particularly as a way to foster solidarity within a community and provide flexibility to the growing and ever-changing needs of the community. The flexibility of the Mutual Aid model enables a capacity for changing directions and readjusting quickly to community needs in a way that the non-profit model cannot often handle. At the same time, the Non-Profit model has brought more resources into communities challenged by the pandemic and has delivered food to a large number of those who need it. Each model is sustainable in a different sense. Non-profits have an ability to focus on an issue in the long term because of the way they have funding, and the way that non-profit models are set up; as people can move in and out of the organization, the organization can continue to run well. Mutual aid is more sustainable in the sense that it creates long term uplift in a community by focusing on truly empowering individuals in the community of which it is a part. Mutual Aid is based on the idea that everyone has needs that should be met and everyone has something to offer to help meet the needs of others in their community. It is a model that activates all contributors as part of the solution, even the most vulnerable have strengths to contribute. It is a model that aims to create a communal, permanent system of support and self-determination. The Non-Profit model, on the other hand, focuses on charitable giving and asks the local residents to contribute time and knowledge.. In the Non-Profit model of charitable giving, there is a mixture of involvement from those within the community and those supplying resources from without. Each model is built to approach issues facing communities in the city today, and each one brings different tools to the table.

The front door of La Morada in Mott Haven.



for being an honest food storyteller WITH ELISE PEARLSTEIN Elise Pearlstein is an Oscar nominated, Emmy-winning documentary producer who creates documentaries with the hope of creating entertaining stories that also have the potential to inspire social change. Pearlstein has always been drawn to telling stories focused on social issues, including on food, and the environment . Her first documentary film, created in 1998, portrayed the iconic Los Angeles hot dog stand Pink’s. One of her most notable works, Food Inc., is a documentary that exposes how mammoth corporations have taken over and exploited the United State’s food chain. Currently, Elise is the Executive Vice President of Documentaries at This Machine. We spoke with Elise about her experience creating compelling, honest stories and specifically about her work producing the film, Food Inc.



• Ability to change or let go of theories and theses if they’re wrong, or even change course completely • Capacity to turn obstacles into opportunities for building a stronger story


• To new ideas and ways of thinking that shape the story


• Leave the audience with a sense of empowerment by sharing information and building knowledge surrounding the food system • Inform the audience of potential social actions to take, if they have the privilege to do so


• Acceptance that you’re not always right • Courage to tell difficult stories


• Following a story to the end, to shine light on a difficult subject, will be worthwhile in the end


• Honesty when portraying facts and people - not being selective with which parts of someone you share or which facts you include • Make the distinction between what will be good for the film and what will be good for the character’s lives • EXAMPLE: In Food, Inc., Pearlstein and her co-workers had to find the balance of telling the honest story of the food system without threatening the livelihood of the people they spoke to, employees of the companies whom they shed unwanted light on


• To find the truth.


OUR POLICY RECCOMENDATIONS We intentionally went into this process focusing on individuals and grassroot initiatives rather than government agencies and legislation. As such, our cookbook does not touch directly on food or agricultural policies. However, throughout our research we developed a strong sense of what should be done to the NYC food system to better support its residents, animals, values, and land. As we finish our cookbook, we wanted to leave our readers with a ‘taste’ of what policies we believe should be prioritized in the future, especially in the upcoming municipal election.

THIS IS OUR FOOD JUSTICE MANIFESTO: To make our food system more equitable, inclusive, healthy and sustainable we must: • PUSH for policies that respect the people and land from which our food comes • DECLARE that nutritious, affordable, and sustainable food is a human right • RE-IMAGINE zoning codes to accommodate urban agriculture and community gardens, especially in historically marginalized communities • ADOPT the Good Food Purchasing program • SUBSIDIZE ground water repair, carbon sequestration, and repairing eutrophication to atone the failures of industrial agriculture • INCREASE garden, farming, nutrition, and cooking education for all NYC public schools • ELIMINATE the use of antibiotics in raising animals • ENFORCE environmental and ethical regulations for factory “farms” that also enhance transparency for these types of farms • STOP rewards and subsidies to large corporations who produce “staple” commodities. • SHIFT agricultural subsidies to support small-scale, local farms, specifically BIPOC farmers

CONCLUSION We created this cookbook to share recipes for creating a more equitable and sustainable New York City food system. By working with a variety of partners, we were able to pull together a plethora of narratives, theories, and solutions about food in NYC. The variety of partners and collaborators helped us to look at the diverse and distinct stories of food migration, ethnic tradition, and the role of family in food in NYC. We hope our cookbook will be a resource for our readers to gain a better understanding of their food system, a glimpse into the amazing work that is already being done to create change, and an inspiration for creating action within their communities. Overall, we hope that this book makes some of the complex issues in food justice and food sustainability compelling and clear.



THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU We’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this cookbook happen, from those who helped us develop the idea to those who shared knowledge that we could turn into recipes for change, and everything in between. This project is a result of the generosity and expertise of our partners, for whom we are endlessly grateful. We espcially would like to thank our families for encourging us to participate in the CityGAP program this semester and for always supporting our academic and creative endevours. Thank you Deborah, Robert, Benny, Madeleine, and Isaac. XOXO Clara and Leila

OUR PARTNERS Alexina Cather NYC Food Policy Institute Alexis Young Corbin Hill Food Project Chantel Kemp GrowNYC Daniel Kane Jr. Teamsters Local 202 Daniel Zauderer Mott Haven Friendly Fridges Daniel Diaz Patterson Companies David Samuels Blue Ribbon Fish Elise Pearlstein This Machine Eve Brown GrowNYC Gabriella Mosquera Teens for Food Justice Jake Dell Katz’s Deli Josephine Perrella Lee Michel Moms Feed the Bronx Leigh Adcock Iowa State University Leo Servedio Teamsters Local 202 Louise Noel Corbin Hill Food Project Marco Saavedra La Morada Marjorie Wolfson Moms Feed the Bronx Martin Ping Hawthorne Valley Farm Pelumi Oloyede Peter Kohlmann Qiana Mickie QJM Multiprise Renae Cairns Teens for Food Justice Seth Mosner Mosners Meat Steph Larson Sierra Club Shawn Connell GrowNYC Stefanie Katzman Katzman Produce Susie Spodek GrowNYC Wellington Chen Chinatown BID Wilson Tang Nom Wah Tea Parlor Yajaira Saavedra La Morada Mutual Aid Kitchen

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