Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


This paper examines the way in which food equity and localization initiatives, specifically in New York City, are a vital response to urban growth and sustainable food demand. Improvements to the current food system in the form of changing the way food is produced, procured, stored, transported, and distributed improves nutrition and contributes to urban sustainability. Chapter 1 provides data on urban environmental justice issues related to food equity, drawing on research from the United Nations and food justice organizations in New York City. Chapter 2 explores the ethical issues surrounding food access and food justice in an increasingly urban and globalized world. Chapter 3 examines the economic aspect of food accessibility and how vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected in urban areas due to food deserts, produce quality, and produce distribution. This paper evaluates the food system, as well as how food system localization in New York City effectively addresses the negative social and ecological consequences of existing systems of production and operation. Chapter 4 analyzes food politics: what is being done, and not being done, in city government and grass roots, community based politics to deal with food injustices. Integrating what has been discussed in Chapters 1-4, the concluding Chapter 5 details public policy focused on urban food equity and formulates further policy recommendations, including those involving sustainable urban growth. GrowNYC, a food-based environmental organization at which I interned, is used as a case study throughout the paper. Finally, this paper argues that environmental initiatives which embody community collaboration and education are an essential tool in improving urban food justice, health, and sustainability.