A year ago, Hurricane Sandy revealed harrowing realities about the basic systems New Yorkers rely on every day. The reality is that private food and fuel systems everywhere are already extremely fragile, and grow more so almost by the day. At best, Sandy-like shocks cause temporary price spikes. At worst, these ruptures can trigger the sort of panic that can forever change the character of a community.
And, so far, no government has even begun to study these risks.
In New York City, locating a bite to eat is rarely a difficult task. The city is a food paradise or, depending on your mood, a place of overwhelming glut. But when Superstorm Sandy pummeled New York last fall, it revealed the terrifying potential for sudden food shortages.
Disturbingly, city officials have little concrete data on how reliant their food system is on the private food distribution industry, and whether society is teetering a mere “nine meals away from revolution” (an ominous old expression that appeared in The Atlantic all the way back in 1945). Worse yet, they have little understanding of the logistical changes that have revolutionized how companies warehouse and distribute the food on which New Yorkers depend.