BY PUBLIC WORKS COMMISSIONER PAULA DANIELS

Within a 200 mile landward radius of Los Angeles is a remarkable abundance of incredible food. California leads the country in agricultural exports, particularly of fruits, vegetables and nuts; among the top producing counties in the state are Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, Fresno and Kern. Yet, it appears that only 1% of the food grown so close to us, is actually consumed here.

So many in this area suffer from insecurity about whether they will have enough to eat; estimates are that over one million in Los Angeles face chronically difficult decisions over being able to afford food – much less, good food.

The City of Los Angeles is adopting a Good Food for All Agenda, based on a report written by a task force created at the direction of Mayor Villaraigosa. The recently completed report outlines ways to make “good food” — food that is healthy, affordable, fairly grown and sustainable — available to all income levels.

Among the ideas is increasing the consumption of locally produced foods, by helping local small and mid-sized farmers (particularly those that follow sustainable farming and fair labor practices) sell their produce in the urban areas and by increasing market demand. The city, schools and other food service providers can help lead the way by conscientiously adopting local food purchasing policies, as has been done in San Francisco, New York and other major cities.

The task force also recommends other measures, like increasing food stamp enrollment, supporting community gardens, and encouraging healthy food retail in under served neighborhoods.

The report recommendations are in line with the healthy food policies of First Lady Michele Obama, and of the US Department of Agriculture, which is advancing the development of more robust regional food systems.

The task force report will be officially unveiled soon, as part of a food summit held next week by the statewide group called Roots of Change.

Los Angeles is stepping up to the good food plate, and we hope you will, too.

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