Fracking and Farming: A Food Coop Chimes In
Last week, soon-to-be-former New York Governor David Paterson surprised many when he vetoed the fracking moratorium and signed an executive order that creates loopholes that could allow some kinds of fracking to continue. Paterson explained that, “Enacting this legislation would put people out of work…,” referring to jobs associated with drilling. But, there’s another labor force that’s threatened by fracking: upstate New York farmers.
On December 8, a food coop in New York City flexed a little muscle and weighed in on the debate, pointing out that fracking threatens food too. Park Slope Food Coop Inc., in Brooklyn, NY, submitted a letter to Members of the State Senate, the State Assembly, outgoing Governor Patterson and Governor-Elect Cuomo, expressing concern about how fracking might affect their ability to buy products from farmers in New York state for a customer base that would not want the risk of food contamination from food grown near fracking sites.
With the amount of food the coop purchases, including beef, chicken, pork, lamb, eggs, fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc., Park Slope Food Coop currently sinks close to $3 million into New York agriculture. Change.org’s Adrian Velez discusses this in more detail here. But if contaminated water from fracking ends up contaminating food, the livelihood of small farms in upstate New York who depend on the coop could be threatened.
Some will surely make this a war of the haves and the have-nots, claiming that the urban elites don’t care about the livelihoods of the rural communities. But, the purchasing power of the Park Slope Food Coop is an example of urban communities and rural communities collaborating on a major effort to rebuild regional food systems. Buying directly from New York farmers is critical to the local economy, and that relationship should be protected from threats like fracking. We applaud Park Slope Food Coop for their letter and for their willingness to stand up and fight for water.