Feeding New York from the Bronx: A Journey into Hunts Point Produce Market, the Grand Central Station of Broccoli

Jonathan Zalman, MA Candidate, MCC, NYU


The fresh food supply for 23 million New Yorkers depends on the operations of three fascinating facilities in Hunts Point, Bronx—home to the world’s largest food distribution center. Hunts Point Produce Market (HPPM), for example, supplies 8.4M New York Citians 60% of their fruits and vegetables, 90% to the 14.6M mouths in New York metropolitan area, and 9% of the continental U.S. HPPM, however, is bursting at the seams of modernity—a foreboding of supply-and-demand economics pushed to the brink. Hunts Point is 329 acres of pre-apocolypticness.

  • What if the system collapses, if the well runs dry because of evils—disasters natural or otherwise? Is NYC’s food protected, plentiful?
  • NYC’s supply of produce came from Washington Market before moving to Hunts Point. The World Trade Center was built next to where the old market stood. On 9/11 the NYC dodged a bullet: what if the fresh food supply had been hit instead of the Twin Towers? What precautions are in place?
  • Who is in charge at HPPM? 4th and 5th generation business owners, the still standing histories of the American dream. What are their stories?
  • For a majority of New Yorkers, Hunts Point remains invisible, unseen. Why? What does it look like?
  • What happens between the time produce is plucked from the Earth and its entrance into the body? My research aims to demonstrate the localities and pathways of food and their ramifications.
  • What is the relationship of HPPM, waste (and surplus), and hunger?
  • Hunts Point is imbued with elements of human necessity: the need to eat, to survive, to exist. During WWII families grew “victory gardens” to feed themselves, neighbors. Can history and the present teach us lessons to reestablish the economies and perspectives we necessitate in order to fuel urban humanities?

Back to Thinking through collapse (2012)