of the Bronx
Tour organized for the
Planning History Conference
New York, Oct 20-22, 2022
By Joseph Heathcott and Audrey Jenkins
The Bronx is a puzzle when it comes to food. It has the largest concentration of food warehouses and wholesale distributors in the United States, and at the same time the highest level of food insecurity and hunger in New York. Moreover, this planned concentration of trucking-based distribution connected to nearby interstates has created an air quality crisis in the South Bronx, which has the highest asthma rates in the city. And the provision of cheap food via corporate capitalism has led to a proliferation of chain fast food outlets across the borough, even as tons of fresh produce move through the area each day.
Our goal in assembling this tour was twofold: first, to see the food system as it operates at varied scales of production, processing, distribution, and consumption; and second, to learn what Bronx residents are doing to regain some control over their food environment. To this end, we visited several sites in the Bronx in order to build a picture of the borough’s contradictory foodscape. We drove around Hunts Point, stopping to visit the construction site of GrowNYC's new facility for food storage and distribution.
We then traveled to La Morena, a community kitchen operated by a Oaxacan family active in supporting newly arrived immigrants and refugees. Finally, we visited the Brook Park Garden, a green space created by and for residents of the surrounding community of Mott Haven. All in all, it was a great tour--sobering at times, but also with moments of real hope and inspiration.