Jerry Cosgrove Responds to NYC “Foodie” Feud

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The City of New York is seeking to keep its Hunts Point wholesale product market in state, but local food enthusiasts are responding with some of their own demands; the NYC feud has drawn the attention of prominent agricultural expert Jerry Cosgrove.

The thought of having a major produce market in the South Bronx area might seem, at first, like a boon to food-lovers and farmers alike throughout the New York area. In reality, however, the Hunts Point wholesale product market has become engulfed in turmoil. New York City officials are seeking to retain the market, and its 3,000, in the Bronx area, rather than see the whole enterprise move south into New Jersey. The local food movement, meanwhile, is seeking to stymie these efforts; the movement’s response to the Hunts Point negotiations has gotten the attention of agricultural experts like Jerry Cosgrove, who responds to the feud with a statement to the press.

The 45 year-old market has long been a staple of the New York community, particularly among “foodies,” but its future is currently in doubt, an NYC real estate report says. If the market and the New York authorities do not reach an agreement by June 29, the market can reopen negotiations with the Garden State. Currently, the hold-up comes from the demands of the local food movement.

The demands of the local food enthusiast amount to no more than a request for space within the market itself, the report continues. Hunts Point has long been dominated by major agricultural distributors, to the extent that only 4% of the food it sells actually comes from the State of New York. Mid-sized, New York-based farmers are asking for a seat at the table, and a chance to sell their produce alongside these larger companies.

According to Jerry Cosgrove, who works for the New World Foundation in the field of sustainable agriculture, the requests being made by the local food movement are far from unreasonable. Cosgrove has issued a statement to the media, weighing in on the current debate.

“The fact is that the major obstacle to this deal is the outdated thinking of the distributors,” says Jerry Cosgrove. “They mischaracterize local and regional food from mid-size farms as ‘competition’ when in reality the distributors serve an entirely different market segment than a Wholesale Farmers Market. Large distributors and wholesale farmers markets have co-existed for years in flagship markets such as Toronto and Paris.”

Jerry Cosgrove goes on to note that the issue should prove important even to those who don’t consider themselves “foodies,” or work in the agricultural business. “And let’s not forget that the distributors are looking for over $100 million in public funding for the project, so it is not just the ‘foodies’ that have a stake in this,” Cosgrove says. “This involves all of us taxpayers, as well.”

City officials say that, in spite of the pressure being mounted against them, they greatest concern right now is simply ensuring that Hunts Point commits to staying in New York for the long term. They are also planning a $350 million renovation to the produce market.

ABOUT:

Jerry Cosgrove is an agricultural professional who currently works at the New World Foundation. He serves as the Associate Director of the Local Economies Project, focusing on sustainable agriculture in the Hudson Valley area.

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Michael McGarety
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