Giving Thanks – for Fresh Food and Clean Water


The holidays are a good time to pause to consider all the things for which we’re thankful. For me, all of the people in my life who keep me laughing and inspired, for family, and for good food (my husband made three different pies this year!) and access to clean and safe water.

But, not to be taken for granted – and some of these things are slipping out of our reach as our country seems to lose sight of what’s important.  For instance, one out of every five kids in the U.S. is hungry and clean drinking water is under attack.

But there are good solutions out there that we’re advocating for – and ones that we should invest in even more given limited dollars. Reducing polluted runoff with green infrastructure is one of them and one that many cities are adopting. Using green roofs, rain gardens and trees to soak up and reuse water in urban areas is cost effective at reducing pollution, flooding and sewer overflows while also cleaning the air, reducing energy use and health problems. Combine this with the resurgence in urban agriculture in cities from Detroit to DC that provides fresh food for urban dwellers, and we may have a fresh food-clean water solution…

As suggested by New Yorkers Nevin Cohen and Kubi Ackerman in Breaking New Ground:

“There are nearly 2,000 acres of vacant land in the areas contributing to sewage overflows, mostly impervious surfaces. There are also thousands of buildings that could support rooftop farms. Interest in growing food locally is at an all-time high, and gardeners, farmers, entrepreneurs, and farming organizations would jump at the chance to have access to additional space to farm. In locales such as the Bronx River watershed, in which [combined sewer overflow] problems coincide with limited food access, the benefits to the environment and to public health would be substantial”

Keeping rivers clean, feeding people and creating more livable cities – that’s food for thought.