Farmers Markets Aren’t Enough – Marcel Van Ooyen

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Marcel Van Ooyen talks about scaling up local food distribution Greenmarket Co., NYC’s first and only food hub dedicated to supporting regional food producers by making their products available to wholesale buyers throughout the city.

Video Length: 00:13:45

  • About Marcel Van Ooyen

    Executive Director GrowNYC

    Marcel Van Ooyen took leadership of GrowNYC in 2006. Over the last 10 years at Marcel’s initiating, GrowNYC has vastly more.

Publications & Reports


The Kind Diet is about being truly kind to yourself and the planet via the foods you put in your body. It helps one strive to achieve the best natural health; to look and feel most alive. Alicia, the author hais broken down the diet into three phases: the flirt, vegan, and superheroes levels. The goal is to gradually wean the dieter off meat rather than demand an overnight change while also caring about the farmers and the planet.

In his book the ‘Omnivore’s dilemma, A natural history of four meals’, Michael Pollan chronicles the man-made problems associated with our food chain that compromise the quality of the food we eat. In writing this book, Pollan, as an investigative journalist, toured various levels of the food production chain. He began his journey from the industrial farms of Iowa and feedlots in Kansas to organic farms and slaughterhouses in Virginia  to finally, the supermarkets in which we all partake. He not only traced the ecological path of food from cultivation to consumption but also the evolutionary path of our diet over the years. Pollan points out that the omnivore’s dilemma is how we as humans have so many dietary options but so little information about what we should eat and where our food comes from.

Reports and Studies

In recent years, consumer demand for local foods has grown markedly, leading to a rise in local food systems. These include food hubs, which typically operate using cooperative principles; which often have an urban and social/environmental mission focus.The aggregation services offered by food hubs allow direct food marketers to gain efficiency across the supply chain and to ensure consistency of product offerings and pricing. Services offered by food hubs can also reduce fixed cost investments and provide an alternative local infrastructure system.

The study compares existing research on crop yields to understand the differences in output between organic farming and conventional industrialized agriculture. The results are relevant to the US, which has a high penetration of genetically modified crops, and the developing world. The main finding states that under the best condition- with certain crops, appropriate environmental conditions and effective management- organic systems can approach the yields of conventional agriculture. The organic yields are typically lower than conventional ones, but the degree of difference is highly dependent on the particulars, and can range from 5%-34% lower.

This article investigates the impact that aspects of food production and transportation have in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions. Arguing from a position that “food represents a unique opportunity for consumers to lower their personal impacts,” Weber and Matthews show how the choices we make regarding what food we eat and where that food comes from may or may not result in a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Amongst the studies they performed, one study indicated that the climate impact of food choices in the US average American household consuming local food can achieve a 4-5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to the emissions reduction achieved from local food’s lower emission production process. They conclude that prioritization of consumption of local foods can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help build and retain a sustainable planet and sustainable agriculture system.


Discussion Questions

  • What are the pros and cons of buying local food from your farmers markets or community supported agriculture? Economically? Environmentally? For your health?
  • How can we change the perception that local produce from farmers markets is too expensive, or inconvenient, for low-income individuals and families? Why do you think this idea exists and is so prevalent?
  • How can fresh food markets and their educational programs be implemented in low-income neighborhoods so that there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the organization and the community?
  • What are some of the things a local farmer might consider before selling their crops at a farmers market or CSA location?


Where to Follow Marcel and GrowNYC

@MarcelGrowNYC ; @GrowNYC

Take Action

Things You Can Do:

  1. Food Hub is home to Tools, resources and thought leadership in regional food.
  2. Use the Eat Well Guide and search for sustainable food near your location by keyword, zipcode or city and state!

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