A look at the astonishing daily systems that allow America's busiest city to function. Anita Rani, Ade Adepitan, Ant Anstead and Dan Snow trace New York's food back to its source.
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We are in Hunts Point in the Bronx,
which is just north of Manhattan,
and this cavernous place is the New Fulton Fish Market.
It's about nine o'clock in the evening,
but this place is just coming to life,
and we will be here for the duration, from dusk till dawn.
We've got privileged access
to some of New York's most iconic locations...
..revealing the hidden systems and armies of people
that keep this city working.
This is a place under pressure.
The population's hit 8.5 million.
Transport, food supply and housing are struggling to keep up.
Tonight, how do you feed a city that grows almost none of its own food?
Journalist Ade Adepitan discovers the astonishing technology
behind the Big Apple's favourite fruit.
So, the apples stay fresh for a year?
Yep. They're as fresh as you put them in.
I'm looking for a different buzz in the city.
How much honey comes out of one of these hives?
Probably get about 40 kilos out of each hive each year.
Engineer Ant Anstead takes a look at a new food transport route.
It's only when you stand under here
you realise how massive the whole project is.
And historian Dan Snow joins us to explore the city's dirty past.
Beneath my feet now is 53 years' worth of New Yorkers' rubbish.
Welcome to New York!
Hunts Point is one of the world's largest food distribution centres -
329 acres of warehouses that supply the hotels,
restaurants and supermarkets of New York.
It's positioned 13 miles north of Lower Manhattan.
There are three massive wholesale markets here,
selling meat, fruit and veg, and fish.
The fish market sells over 1 billion worth of seafood a year,
and it's our base tonight.
You know what, Anita? You're really lucky cos I'm at fish height,
so I'm getting the full pongy-ness of this market.
But you're right, this is a seriously impressive place
because about half of all New York's food comes from this area,
which works out to about 3 million tonnes a year.
It's flown in and it's trucked in from all over the US
and 50 countries worldwide. Now, you know Ant loves his motors?
-Well, he's in one of those big American trucks, full of fresh fish,
and he's heading our way right now.
Now, it might be the end of the working day for most people,
but things are just starting here.
Across the water, in Manhattan, people are at bars and restaurants,
and they're generally winding down, but it's all gearing up here,
and that's because they know it's their job to make sure
all of those places have enough food for tomorrow.
Between now and 6am,
this place is going to get ram-jammed full of fresh fish -
it'll all be sold and then it'll be empty again.
Just out here, some of the first trucks have already arrived,
and we're expecting about 55 trucks tonight, and the largest
of those trucks should have about 13 tonnes of fresh fish in it.
In total, an astonishing 7,500 trucks are on the move,
all around New York, bringing in food,
and that's because the city grows almost none of what it needs.
Now, the three of us went to find out
where some of the city's best food is produced.
New York is America's hungriest city.
Most of its fresh produce is funnelled in through Hunts Point.
We're tracing the journey that three of New York's favourite foods
take to get here.
I'm 90 miles north of Hunts Point
in the Hudson River Valley,
where 154,000 tonnes of apples are grown each year.
This is really, really beautiful.
All these trees blossoming.
This is not what I'd expect of New York State.
The cows that provide some of New York's most upmarket steakhouses
with their meat start their lives in the grasslands of Pennsylvania.
It's quite flat. I can see lots of farms dotted around.
60% of the fresh fish sold at Hunts Point is pulled from
the Atlantic coast. I'm at the very end of Long Island, in Montauk.
Out there, that's the Atlantic Ocean.
That's where the fishing boats are going to come in,
hopefully, full of fish. Right over that way, New York City.
But here, it's more calm. The problem with fishing is
there's no real schedule -
you've got to go out, wait till you've caught enough
and bring it home, so that means I could be waiting a long time.
No such problem in the fertile Hudson River Valley,
where 147 growers have orchards in bloom.
Alisha Albinder's family have farmed here since 1963.
-Hey, how you doing?
-How are you?
How big is this place, Alisha?
In the Hudson Valley, we have about 100 acres of apple farms.
What does that equate to in terms of numbers?
On a yearly basis, we sell over 200 million apples, individually.
These trees won't produce apples until the autumn...
..but there's a hi-tech way to ensure year-round supply
for the markets of New York.
So, this is our storage facilities -
we have ten of these in our building,
and this is where all the apples are kept.
They can be stored here for up to a year in a controlled atmosphere,
so that means that we keep the rooms at one degrees and we drop
the oxygen level to below 2%.
So, the apples stay fresh for a year?
Yep. They're as fresh as you put them in,
so you can close the room down and, when you open it up months later,
you take the apples out and they're as good as new.
Cattle farming also requires some forward planning,
with a minimum two-year lead time before a cow becomes a steak.
I'm meeting third-generation farmer Dwight Hess.
Thank you. Good to see you.
-Let me show you around.
-Yeah, I'd love to see some of your cattle.
US beef is graded into one of four main categories -
standard, select, choice, and prime.
Prime has a fuller flavour due to its greater distribution of fat.
It's this quality that the steakhouses of New York
want on their plates.
-What type of cattle have you got here?
-Predominantly Angus breed.
90% of our cattle grade choice-grade,
which would be the grade under prime.
The Angus breed is one of the easier breeds to get to grade prime.
So, what's the cost of rearing one of these animals?
A steer like this right here,
this guy probably cost around 1,400 when I bought him.
Our feed costs will be around 250 per head.
He will bring back about 1,750 a head,
so I will have approximately 100 a head net profit on that steer.
If I could do that year in and year out on every animal that I sell,
I would be very satisfied.
In Montauk, my wait is over.
Fisherman Dave Arapoc is heading back with his catch.
-How's it going?
-Hi, how are you?
-Loads of fish?
-Uh, a little bit of fish, a little bit.
Not a huge amount today, but a little bit.
-So, what are these?
-Montauk sea bream, porgies.
-So, this is bream?
Cor, it's heavy.
Dave's also bringing in squid and flatfish.
So this is pretty fresh, isn't it?
Straight out the ocean, straight on ice.
We just hauled the net back an hour ago,
right up in the bay.
Um, we're going to the market tonight...
..and very possibly, at lunchtime tomorrow,
somebody could be eating these fish.
My cattle are still 18 months away from landing on a plate,
and they're fattening up on an unexpected diet -
pasta, crisps and sweets.
-You can smell it, that's chocolate.
Actually, we have to be careful we don't feed too much chocolate
because too much chocolate in their diet can suppress their appetite,
and that's the last thing we want to have happen,
so each one of these ingredients needs to go into the ration
in the right proportion for them to have a healthy diet,
to gain as much weight as possible.
Once they've reached a target weight of just over half a tonne,
these animals will be ready for slaughter,
and from there, they'll head to the meat market at Hunts Point.
In Montauk, the clock is ticking.
The fish is deteriorating for every minute it's out the sea.
Dave needs to get his catch to market, and quickly.
-What are these for, Dave?
-That shows where it's going to in
-Hunts Point market.
-I staple it on the outside of the carton.
My information is on the inside of the carton,
so they can send me the cheque.
At the apple farm, it's all rather more technical.
We have a colour sorter here that takes about 35 pictures per second
-of an apple.
-What's that all about?
Yeah, so, it's capturing every side of the apple
and it's capturing the grain, any scabs, any defects,
and it's sorting it out so that you can put the extra fancy packs
together, the fancies, and then the cider.
So, you're sorting them out in terms of quality.
Suppliers like Alisha,
Dwight and Dave have spent years getting their produce to this stage.
We're loading up 31 boxes of fish...
..and 179 boxes of apples.
Now it's down to the wholesalers at Hunts Point
to get the best possible price.
It's 11 o'clock and we're awaiting the arrival of Ant
with his fish haul from Montauk,
but he won't be able to get into the market.
In fact, no-one can get in without passing through the tollbooth
and dealing with this lady.
-So, how much does it cost
for someone to get in and off-load their stock?
Well, if they're in a tractor trailer, it's 25.
If they're in a box truck, it's ten.
If they're in a car or a van, it's 6.
-So, what does all that money go towards?
-Well, it goes to parking,
unloading the stuff, you know, general maintenance of the market.
What are your hours here in the booth?
I work from 11pm to 7.30am.
-..in here, on your own.
-How do you keep yourself entertained?
Well, I talk to my neighbour.
How do you talk to her? Do you just shout?
We shout during the summer.
During the winter, we use our private walkie-talkies.
Cos it must get very cold in here.
Yes, the chill from the water makes it very cold down here.
You've got a little heater under there.
Yeah, we have a heater/AC, so we don't get hypothermia.
Wonderful. Do you know what?
I think I can hear Ant's truck arriving.
-Make sure you count all his money.
-All right, I will.
How are you?
Here you go. Have a good day.
That's it. He's paid up, but his work's not quite done.
He needs to now get in there, unload all the fish,
and get it into the market.
Well, we made it, but like any commercial business, there's always
a piece of paper, and in this case, it's called a bill of lading.
This details exactly what's on our lorry, and it tells me that
there's 31 boxes of fish - that's made up of dogfish,
bream - porgy as they're known locally - squid, flatfish,
and it's going to five different traders within the market.
This'll make it easier getting it off the lorry.
Somewhere in the middle of this unloading chaos
is the manager, George Valdez.
-George, how you doing? Ant.
-Nice to meet you.
-There's loads going on.
Is it? So, how long is it going to take to get the stuff off our lorry?
We're going to start it right now
and a load like this should be done within half an hour.
-And, of course, time is of the essence.
-Does it get any busier?
-The longer you're around,
you're going to see fish everywhere.
Right, and your guys know exactly where every load's going to go.
They know with paperwork and with guidance from our supervisors.
So, George, tonight, how much total fish are you going to unload?
Up to 1.2 million pounds of fish.
-That's a lot of fish.
-That's a lot of fish.
So, what happens when the public start coming to buy the fish?
People start screaming for their fish a lot more.
And if it's not off the lorry?
-They're screaming at you?
-The last guy holding the ball, right.
-Fish is money.
-Fish is money, that's exactly right.
-George, lovely to meet you, man.
-Nice meeting you.
My load's an easy one for George.
It's only going to five of the 27 different fish merchants
vying for trade here.
This market is 430,000 square feet,
which is about the size of five football pitches,
and on a busy night like tonight,
there's up to 650 people working here.
But this whole place, this enormous food distribution zone,
didn't start out here in the Bronx.
Back in the day, food used to come in and out of New York by sea.
In the 19th century,
New York's three main food markets were situated in Lower Manhattan.
Washington Market on the Lower West Side
was the largest fruit and produce exchange in the USA.
The Gansevoort farmers' market was the centre of the meat trade.
Slaughterhouses and packing factories clustered
in the so-called Meatpacking District.
And the fish market sat on Fulton Street,
down by the Lower East Side docks.
The markets thrived for more than a century, feeding a population
that ballooned from just over a million in 1860...
..to nearly 8 million by 1960.
By then, the city had changed beyond all recognition.
The logistics of getting produce in and out of Lower Manhattan
was far from easy, and the boom in real estate values meant that
the sprawling markets were now perched on premium-priced land.
In 1967, the city evicted Washington Market from its site
and built the World Trade Center on top of it.
The fruit and veg traders relocated 13 miles north to Hunts Point.
Cheaper land and better road connections
to the rest of the country made financial and practical sense.
Many of the meat sellers followed in 1972,
but the fish market clung on defiantly.
It was an infamous and colourful part of New York life,
as Alan Whicker reported in 1985.
I mean, it's still Marlon Brando,
On The Waterfront down here, isn't it?
-Yes, it still is.
-They're pretty tough cookies, aren't they?
They are tough, yeah. In fact, there was a nasty murder here last night,
which... Someone was stealing some fish and he was shot to death.
After 180 lively years, the market closed down.
In 2005, the traders packed up and left their historic home
to join the others at Hunts Point.
One trader who left the old market
and moved here to Hunts Point is Mitch Slavin.
-Good morning, Mitch.
-Morning. How are you?
What are your memories of the old market?
The old market had some flavour.
I mean, it was quite different than this.
This is like a hospital compared to that.
That was cobblestone streets and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background
and barrels of wood burning through the night
and the smell of the fish and the wood...
That sounds really evocative.
And I'm sure full of characters, as it is now.
I think the characters are all still here,
just maybe the venue's changed.
How long has this business been in your family?
Almost 90 years.
My grandfather and my grandmother came here from Russia,
penniless, as immigrants.
They started a little pushcart in Brooklyn,
peddling fish for pennies.
And your dad then inevitably went into the business?
Was it expected of him to do the same thing?
My dad built this company into a multi-million dollar company,
-well over 100 million.
Have things changed much in terms of the people that come and buy fish?
It used to be, in the old days, very Italian, very Jewish,
and then it morphed into more Chinese,
and now it's very Korean-oriented.
They all come to America looking for the American Dream and,
you know, the food business is the place to find it.
Mitch, it's been really interesting talking to you. Thank you.
My pleasure. Nice talking to you.
Yeah. Warm hands.
All around us, salesmen are unpacking their boxes
and setting up their stalls.
It's a nervy time.
They have no idea if they'll shift this stock tonight.
Some merchants are lucky enough to have pre-orders in place.
I'm heading into the back room of one seller who offers
a very special service for his clients.
Most of the fish in the market is sold whole, but some of it's cut
into fillets, or filets, as the Yanks like to call it,
and that operation is carried out by this man, Anthony Grippa.
-Hey, man, how are you?
-Hello, Ant, how are you?
So, why do you cut them up?
We're cutting our fish for preparation for delivery
to restaurants in Manhattan.
So, why do they get you to do it?
Because we do it very well, we do it very quickly, and most restaurants
don't want to have this mess in their kitchen.
So, you must be rattling out fish quite quickly.
I mean, how long's that going to take?
This isn't a particularly big one,
but this is going to take a man a few seconds.
-A few seconds?
-A few seconds.
Wow. Time is money, yeah?
Time is definitely money.
So, how much fish will the guys get through tonight?
These guys will cut about 4,000 pounds of fish tonight.
-That's a shade under two tonnes.
-Yeah, it's pretty massive.
It's a major accomplishment for these guys.
We're feeding the city here.
-Well, I better let you get on with it.
-Nice to see you again.
-See you later.
Outside, trucks are still coming in thick and fast.
95% of New York's food travels by road,
putting enormous strain on its transport arteries.
25 miles north of the market is the Tappan Zee Bridge.
It's three miles long and carries Interstates 287 and 87
over the Hudson River.
It's one of the key freight routes to the market.
Every day, it handles an average of 140,000 vehicles.
Problem is it was designed to carry only 100,000.
Come on, let me out.
Opened in 1955, it was a masterpiece of civil engineering,
but one that was planned to last just 50 years,
and, boy, does it show.
The road is rough, there's potholes everywhere.
Now, they've managed to cram four lanes into this side of the bridge.
No hard shoulder - if there's a breakdown, the whole bridge
is going to grind to a halt. And, the problem is,
they regularly have breakdowns.
As a result, the bridge has twice the average accident rate
as the rest of New York State's motorway system.
I love that rigid steel industrial design,
but it definitely needs replacing.
Which is why, right next to it,
they're building the new New York Bridge.
To get a closer look at this 4 billion mega-structure,
I'm heading out on the water with chief engineer Jamie Barbas.
It's only when you stand under here,
-you realise how massive the whole project is.
You don't really appreciate the scale until you get up close.
It is brilliant.
When it's completed in 2018,
this will be one of the widest bridges in the world,
carrying eight lanes of traffic.
The machinery constructing it is also on an epic scale.
The skeleton of the bridge is made of steel girders
weighing up to 1,000 tonnes.
Hoisting them into place is one of the world's largest cranes,
the Left Coast Lifter.
So, that lifts all these massive RSJs,
-these big steel structures, into place?
Actually, they're assembled, put on a barge and lifted in place,
span by span.
And that's the beauty of having a crane like that
is that all this stuff can be done on dry land,
in a secure place where it's nice and safe,
brought out by boats and placed into position.
This huge crane was towed here from San Francisco.
It took two months and cost 70,000 in tolls
to get it through the Panama Canal.
What is that capable of lifting?
-About 12 Statues Of Liberty.
-So, thousands of tonnes?
That's right, a couple of thousand tonnes.
God, it is monumental.
Most days, around 900 people work on the bridge,
but today, thanks to the British weather I've brought with me,
most of the site is closed.
However, they're still working on the colossal towers
that will support the roadway.
This here, this looks like a concrete plant.
Actually, it is. It's our concrete batch plant where we make
a lot of our concrete onsite, on this barge.
So, they're pouring it right now?
That's right, it's being pumped up that blue pipe and they're pouring
the concrete for that massive crossbeam that connects
-the two legs of this tower.
And you can see each slab of the tower is made a bit at a time.
-It's like massive-scale Lego.
It is, it is, but has to be very well thought out.
The new bridge will open to traffic in two years' time,
and then the old one will be dismantled and much of it recycled.
Tappan Zee's replacement should provide an efficient
transport artery, keeping fresh food flowing into New York
for the next 100 years.
It's 2am, and customers are arriving.
It's a high-pressure time for sellers like Eddie Monani.
Fish only stays fresh for three days.
He's got to shift his stock quickly or lose money.
But Eddie has a safety net -
dealing in frozen fish that keeps its value for much longer.
So, Eddie, you're the main supplier of frozen food in the market,
and it comes from all over the world.
You've got tilapia from, where's that, Taiwan?
Every country you can think of.
Swai from Vietnam, pompano from China.
-Some mussels from Chile.
-Mussels from Chile.
Most of this product is frozen at sea.
And what's the benefit of having frozen food?
Frozen is more sustainable,
it's less of a fluctuation in prices,
so it's very easy to do business with it.
I do get fresh fish from every place else, too.
-What have you got?
-Well, right here, we have porgies.
-These are from Rhode Island.
-So, these are porgies.
-We call them bream, so, same fish.
And you've got a lot of, what is this, red snapper?
Red snapper from all over the world - Guatemala, Panama.
Will everybody in here have red snapper or is it just you?
If one of us has fish, red snapper,
if the other guy sells red snapper, he'll have them too.
And will he be selling it at the same price as you?
-We have to go along with the next guy.
Within a nickel or a dime, we have to be in the same category,
-or else the buyer will go someplace else.
What's your turnover weekly, in dollars?
On an average week, I do approximately 100,000 pounds of fish
worth between 300,000 and 400,000.
That sounds like a lot of money. That IS a lot of money!
It is, but fish prices are high, too.
Right. So, is business good right now?
Uh, I can't complain. Used to be better,
but big-box stores are now operating and they're taking a lot from us.
-So, you mean the supermarkets?
Now with the sophisticated refrigeration,
they can keep fish, too.
And also we all know how good it is for us.
Well, it's very good for us, and we're all not eating enough of it.
Says the guy who sells the stuff.
Well, says the guy... Yeah. I have to promote my business.
Seafood from this market is bought by everyone
from high-end restaurants through to grocery stores.
One of the ironies about food in New York is that this city
grows hardly any of its own food and most people can't be bothered
to cook because they work long hours
and haven't got the time or the space.
But despite all of that, New Yorkers are passionate about food,
especially if they can get someone else to cook it for them.
New York is undergoing a food revolution.
60% of all meals consumed in the city
are from restaurants or takeaways.
-Four and five.
And in the last six years,
New Yorkers have embraced online ordering apps as the quickest way
to get food to their door.
There are 18 apps to choose from, but the biggest is Seamless...
Thanks a lot, man. See you later.
..which handles over 220,000 orders every day.
It's 7pm on a Monday night...
All right, guys, what do you want to eat?
..and this family have just arrived home
to their brownstone in Brooklyn.
All right, so, you want to order?
You want to go to the computer and help me out?
Like thousands of New Yorkers, they're ordering online.
We usually order, like,
anywhere between three or four times a week because of our schedules.
I don't have time to cook, I come home very late with the kids,
and they want food quite quickly.
Local delivery costs 1 on top of the price of the food,
so it's an appealing option for busy families.
-Place the order. There it is.
-You see? Now I got the confirmation.
OK, we got an order.
OK, it's one Grandma Pie for delivery.
A few blocks away, Johnny's Pizzeria springs into action.
Thank you very much. So long.
Slice is ready.
Run by brothers John and Rocco...
The cheese. The cheese is love.
..Johnny's has been serving pizza for 50 years.
This restaurant is one of 11,000 signed up with online apps,
and adopting new technology is paying dividends.
In 2014, we did 10% in sales online.
In 2015, we're up to 20% online,
and now, in 2016, we're going to probably pass that,
and in 2017, it'll probably triple.
15 minutes after they ordered it,
the family's pizza is ready for delivery.
The average Seamless delivery time is 30 minutes,
thanks to an army of delivery men and women working day and night.
Most of them use bikes to courier the food,
allowing them to navigate quickly through the tricky New York traffic.
Carlos Reyes is one of them.
I live in Bronx, New York, and I work in Williamsburg
because more people, more restaurants, more money to make.
Employees are attached to an area rather than a specific restaurant.
Carlos clocks in and out on his phone and is sent orders based on
his GPS location, which he can choose to accept or decline.
You get paid for delivery, plus tip, plus mileage.
The most tips made in a night?
80, I believe.
The more deliveries he accepts, the more money he makes,
and restaurants don't have the overheads
of full-time delivery staff.
How you doing, boss?
-Hi. Thank you. Have a great night.
-All right, you too.
I got two minutes left of my shift. I'm about to clock out.
It's time to go home, take a rest.
Tonight, across the whole of New York,
Seamless's delivery army collectively covered
more than 350,000 miles.
They delivered more than 180,000 chicken wings
and 18,000 kilos of cheese for pizza toppings,
including some eagerly anticipated by this family.
-There you go, babe.
-All right, looks good.
-Here you go.
Here you go.
Ordering this is a blessing, in my case.
-Mommy, can I have one more slice?
It's 3am, the busiest time for the market.
High-end buyers like Sandy Ingber from Grand Central's Oyster Bar
are here to check out the quality of tonight's catch.
Beautiful oyster. You have a very nice selection here today.
On the floor, the sales are brisk,
but the real business is hidden away.
Although this is a really modern, efficient, purpose-built facility,
some things are still done the old-fashioned way.
When someone comes to the market and buys fish,
it generates a handwritten receipt.
Each time an order's placed, it goes to the office above the market.
And this is Caitlin Clayton, who's one of the book-keepers here.
-Hi, pleasure to meet you.
So, somebody comes to the stall,
buys some fish and it generates this piece of paper.
-What does it mean?
It shows you who the customer is, and we put the date of the sale,
then it determines if they're a cash sale or a charge sale.
We would check off the box, and it shows the items that they bought.
So, who sets the price?
It goes by all the other stands, how much fish comes in to the market.
You could get 50,000 pounds of fish in and, you know,
you're going to sell for less money because you want to move it out.
So, if only 10,000 pounds come in,
then you're going to make your number a little bit higher
and you're going to try to get a stronger margin on it.
OK, so, by way of example, the most expensive fish on this ticket,
-7.75 a pound.
-That's what it's doing tonight.
What's the most you've ever known red snapper...?
I've seen it between 9 and 10 a pound.
-And the least?
-The least - 3, 4 a pound.
So, really, it kind of works like a fish stock exchange.
That's exactly how I would describe it.
-It varies throughout the night.
-Yes, it can change hourly.
You go around, you see what other people are selling for,
your customers will show you tickets,
they'll show you what they're paying or what they've heard,
and that gives you an idea on how to sell also.
I guess you're going to have customers checking all
-the market stalls, trying to get the best price.
Do they play a bit of games with you?
Oh, yes, they do. But that's part of the fun, you know...
They'll come over, you tell them 7.75, they'll say, "Well, the guy
"across the street's selling for 7.50, can you match it?"
So, you do have a bit of haggling?
Yeah. They definitely try to haggle.
And how's tonight going?
Tonight is going good so far.
-Yeah, so far, so good.
-We got mullets over here, 1.75.
-We've got croakers,
we've got skate wings.
How's your skate wings, OK?
-French restaurants buying them today?
Now, they try and keep waste down to a minimum here, and these skeletons
are going to be sold to restaurants as the basis of their fish stock.
It's really important that they sell all the parts
of the fish because any waste is a loss of profit,
and this place is all about making money.
Even so, the rubbish trucks last year collected
4,500 tonnes of rubbish.
Now, we sent Dan to go and see what happens to all that waste
once it's been collected.
The city of New York collectively produces 9,500 tonnes
of domestic rubbish and 1,600 tonnes of recyclables every day.
That's more household waste than the whole of Scotland.
And it's the job of the world's largest sanitation department
to clear it up.
Without these guys,
New Yorkers would soon be drowning in their own trash.
More than 7,000 sanitation workers scour the streets to rid New Yorkers
of their rubbish. So, where does it all go?
Well, if you're one of the 500,000 residents of Staten Island,
12 miles south of Manhattan, it comes here...
The Staten Island Waste Transfer Station.
Up to 800 tonnes of Staten Islanders' rubbish
arrives here to be processed
and gathered up every single day.
It's a massive operation, open 24 hours a day, six days a week.
Chief Thomas Killeen is the man in charge.
I bet it's brutal here after Christmas.
After any holiday, barbecue season, spring-cleaning, you name it...
We can tell which season it is just by looking at the garbage.
So, what's going on over here behind us?
What we do here is we process regular waste.
Not recycling, just waste.
We bring it to the top of the floor you see behind me.
They'll dump it, throw it on the big conveyor belt,
the conveyer belt throws it into a big hopper.
In the hopper, we compact it.
From there, we put it into the rail car,
ship it off to the rail company.
How many rail cars every day get out of here?
We try to ship out one train a day
and they usually hold about 98 containers.
So, the Staten Island's garbage is one entire train -
nearly 100 rail cars - heading out of here every day?
At least five out of seven days, yes,
and it goes to Bishopville, South Carolina, all by rail.
The other boroughs send their rubbish to dumps in Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and Upstate New York
at a cost of 310 million a year.
But New York's rubbish wasn't always sent so far afield.
For more than 50 years, almost all of the city's trash landed
just two miles down the road from here
at the controversial Fresh Kills landfill,
just metres away from local residents.
Janice and her son Seth live 15 minutes away
from the 2,200-acre landfill.
Paint me a picture - what was it like when the dump was there?
Smelly, very odorous.
A putrid, kind of cloying smell.
Stuck to your skin, went in your mouth.
There was a lot of trash that came loose in the windstorms etc,
and plastic bags, on a bad day, lining the expressway,
you know, caught in the gates.
And a lot of scavenging gulls.
The first barge of trash
landed on the west side of Staten Island in 1948.
By 1955, Fresh Kills had become the largest landfill in the world,
at its peak collecting 26,000 tonnes of garbage per day.
How did it make you feel, that you were like some dumping ground
for the rest of your fellow citizens of New York?
We did have people making fun of us, saying,
"Oh, you're from Staten Island, don't you have, you know,
"an extra finger caused by the landfill activity?"
There was just a stigma of living on Staten Island.
By the early '90s, they'd had enough.
Staten Island threatened to separate from the five boroughs of New York
and become an independent city in its own right
unless something was done about Fresh Kills.
We want a closure date.
And if that means the city has to come up with emergency plans,
spending a phenomenal amount of money for alternatives,
then that really is what the city has to do.
The protests worked.
In 2001, the last barge of New York's trash
sailed down the river to Fresh Kills,
and the landfill was closed.
This is Fresh Kills today.
It feels so pristine and natural.
It's a world away from the mountains of rubbish
that would have surrounded me if I'd been here 15 years ago.
It is hard to believe that beneath my feet now
is 53 years' worth of New Yorkers' rubbish.
Thanks to 50 million of city investment,
Fresh Kills is undergoing an extraordinary transformation
from landfill to parkland.
With Eloise Hirsh at the helm,
New York's Parks and Sanitation Departments are working together
to give this place a new lease of life.
How have you gone about turning a huge pile of junk
into a beautiful park?
There are a whole series of layers that go over all of
the 150 million tonnes of decomposing trash.
It's a complicated and highly engineered system.
So, it's not like this grass is feeding off the garbage below?
No, not in any way. No, this is totally sealed, no.
Take a cross section through the land, and you can see
the ingenious engineering at work here.
Directly on top of the waste,
compacted soil helps maintain stability and drainage.
Above that, a layer of composite material allows noxious gases,
like methane caused by the waste,
to escape via 640 wells and 175,000ft of pipeline.
Next, an impermeable plastic liner stops water flowing down into
the waste and ensures gases only escape out of the vents provided.
Then there are two tiers of drainage management
to prevent the land from slipping.
And finally, it's topped off with a 6in layer of soil.
It's transformed this site,
providing 2,200 acres of new parkland for New Yorkers.
What does the future hold for this park?
Well, we're really anxious to have the place open,
to let it welcome hundreds and hundreds and thousands and thousands
of people. We really think...
And let them look and say,
"Wow, this was a landfill and now look at it."
And have them maybe make the connection between sort of
personal responsibility about what they're doing with waste
and the impact it has on everybody else.
It's beginning to get light and the premium buyers have left the market.
The customers here now are all in search of a last-minute bargain.
-What sizes you got?
-16, 20s here, and these are jumbo ones at 15.
I'm meeting a buyer who has a reputation for being
one of the toughest negotiators in the market.
-How are you?
-What is it you're looking for?
-So, you're here to buy particularly this one, porgies?
So, who's your customer? Who do you buy the fish for?
So, you're a middleman.
You come here, buy as much fish as possible,
-and then sell it to the restaurants in Chinatown.
What's the most you've ever spent here?
-You spent 10,000 in one night?
So, do you have a regular market tender that you go to?
You try everybody.
-You just want the cheapest fish.
So, how much profit do you make on one fish?
-So, you've got to sell a lot of fish to make a lot of money.
-Shall we go and haggle for some fish?
We want to buy some fish. Can we...?
1.10? That's no good. Haggle harder.
Are you out of your mind?
-Are you out of your mind?
-OK, so, meet him in the middle.
That's the middle for me.
-Hey, there's 26 other market places.
It's worth a buck and a quarter. Best I'll do is 1. 75 cents?
I'm not giving you 50 cents.
-No. See, you're moving up already.
-Come back in an hour.
-If I don't have anything left, you're going to be
-I need that...
-Listen, let's meet in the middle.
You want 50 cents? I'll do 75 cents.
-Yeah, 70 cents.
Here's your deal.
-Here, you got 5,000 pounds.
So, go pay for it.
-You're a thief!
So, John's done a deal tonight. The seller wanted 1.25.
He's managed to negotiate it down to 70 cents.
He's taking this pallet of fish home tonight.
Right now, less than 1% of New York's food
is actually grown in the city, but that's changing.
Anita went to check out some unexpected food sources.
Deep in New York's concrete jungle,
a quiet agricultural revolution is taking place,
if you know where to look.
Oh, my God!
This is incredible.
At the top of the Marriott hotel,
750ft above the hustle and bustle of Midtown,
there's a different buzz.
-Good to see you. How are you?
-Nice to see you.
-What an incredible spot.
It's not bad.
'In 2014, this hotel asked master beekeeper Andrew Cote
'to set up a hive on the 67th floor.
'Now there are two.'
It's only a bee. So, you take the smoker and I'll veil up.
What does the smoke do?
-It helps calm the bees a little bit.
-How many bees are in this hive?
-There are probably about 50,000 in this hive right now.
Twice a year, Andrew harvests the honey
to give to hotel guests as a souvenir.
How much honey comes out one of these hives?
We probably get about 40 kilos out of each hive, each year.
-This is all honey here, all of this is honey.
And they're doing very, very well here, they're very happy,
they're right near the buffet at Central Park.
So, that's where they go?
They visit the canopy of trees, all the way up to the end.
For the bees, it's a six-mile round trip.
They need to visit 2 million flowers to make just one jar of honey.
And it's fine for them to fly all this way, obviously?
It is unusual to have bees this high up, but it's working.
These bees are producing honey.
New York's appetite for local, sustainable food is growing.
Over the last decade,
the number of farmers' markets has increased by 70%.
Andrew sells honey from his other 74 city beehives at 25 a pot,
Is it just for the novelty?
It's not for that reason,
it's just because the hotel has the vision to be part of the greening
of the Big Apple, to pollinate the Big Apple,
and they want to have this connection to nature.
And it's not just honey.
Across the five boroughs,
400 rooftops went green between 2010 and 2015.
Ever year, this 65,000 square foot rooftop farm in Brooklyn
produces ten tonnes of lettuce, herbs and tomatoes.
Food that only has to travel a couple of miles
to reach the customer.
But it comes at a price that not everyone can afford.
1.4 million New Yorkers don't have enough food to get by.
For them, urban agriculture is a lifeline.
In the city's 500 community gardens,
free fresh food is provided for local families.
-Good to see you.
What a beautiful little oasis of calm.
At this garden in the Bronx,
Karen Washington helped pioneer a green-fingered revolution.
The Garden of Happiness is now one of 200 community gardens
that are now in the Bronx.
This quarter-acre site has 30 vegetable plots,
11 chickens and 20 local volunteers,
bringing in around a tonne of fresh produce every year.
For me, I like to grow collard greens.
We grow tomatoes, we grow peppers,
and you can see there's some mint here.
Good for salads.
Together, New York's community gardens
produce 193 tonnes of food a year.
So, when you set this up or got involved in 1988,
-was everyone behind you?
-Initially, people laughed at us.
They thought it wasn't going to succeed,
but here we are, 28 years later,
and urban agriculture and community gardens
are on everyone's lips,
not only here in the United States, but globally.
Urban agriculturists claim there are still 5,000 acres of land available
in New York where food could be grown -
that's nearly six times the size of Central Park.
And how supportive is New York City to what you've got going on here?
So, right now, New York City's very supportive
because of the fact that we do have issues around hunger and poverty,
and so we always try to encourage our gardeners to make sure
the politicians come out and visit your garden, be part of the garden,
they know who you are, that they're...
That your garden's on their radar, so that when it comes,
maybe your garden comes up for development, they can say,
"Oh, no, don't touch that garden."
It's 6am and it's around the busiest time of the day,
and they've had about 500 buyers come through,
and all of those buyers will be desperate to make sure
that their fresh fish is loaded up into the vans
and in the city before the start of the rush hour.
A special team of independent loaders
get the customers' fish onto their vans for them.
Herbie is one of the guys whose job it is to make sure the right loads
get to the right vans. Herbie, how you doing, mate?
All right, how you doing?
Tell me, what's your system to make sure these get to the right vans?
What I have to do is go by the numbers on the items they get...
-..and what loading zone they're parked in.
So, explain to me, what does this number mean? What's all this?
1433 is a guide truck.
-So, that'll be on the truck?
-That's the truck number.
This is how many items he's getting.
And this is the loading zone.
It's one of eight loading zones that surround the market.
Herbie must deliver to van number 1433 within Beekman.
It's like a postcode for the loading bays.
And you guys are whizzing up and down here at top speed, right?
How would you be able to run this thing
if you didn't have this system?
You wouldn't be able to run it at all.
You'd be losing everybody's product, going on the wrong truck.
You're sending someone crabs
when they should be getting tilapia, yeah?
-Listen, you need to get this into the city, right?
-So, I'll let you go free.
This load will be heading out of the market within minutes.
It's a daily exodus that starts at 5am from all the food markets
and distributors across Hunts Point.
The apples I saw upstate have made it
to this 200,000-square-foot produce warehouse.
135 million apples move through here each year.
All 4,000 varieties of fruit and vegetable stocked here
are moved on in fewer than 72 hours.
OK, let's do it.
Each day, 250 drivers deliver 100,000 boxes
of fresh food into the city.
-Yep, I'm buckled up.
I'm joining Kelby on his daily round.
So, where are we heading today?
Today, we're going to be going to Brooklyn.
Onboard, we've got spring onions from Mexico,
oranges and lemons from California, and apples from New York State.
But first, we've got to get there.
Oh, here we are, the traffic.
Yeah, this is it right here, bumper to bumper.
Does this job feel pressured at times?
It is a time-sensitive job, catering to, like, restaurants, hotels.
You can imagine, they all want their stuff yesterday.
But there are some foods customers are happy to wait longer for.
The prime beef I saw being reared in Pennsylvania travels 200 miles
from the abattoir to the meat market here in Hunts Point.
Mark Solas and his family run one of the 39 businesses
based on the million-square-foot site.
Here it comes.
It is enormous. Absolutely huge.
-As you can see, this is prime.
So, this is the top quality, top grade beef.
Mark specialises in supplying New York's famous steakhouses
with high-quality, aged beef.
-How much do they weigh?
-About 100 kilos.
That's a lot of beef.
To make them easier to manoeuvre, carcasses are transported on rails.
It's called "swinging beef".
-I'm going to push it.
-See if you can give it a push.
Once unloaded, fresh meat is taken to a state-of-the-art ageing room,
where it's stored at just above freezing for 28 days
to improve the flavour and texture.
-See, it's turned black.
-That's when it sits in an ageing room,
the air and the circulation will oxidise the front of the meat,
turning it black, but underneath the black coat
is actually nice red meat.
The marbling is beautiful, there's so much fat in there.
The more marbling that's inside the eye, the more flavour.
That robust, nutty flavour is going to emanate
throughout the rest of the muscle.
After ageing, the meat is cut up by a dozen butchers and sent out.
22 trucks take 600,000 worth of meat into the city each day.
I'm hitching a ride into Manhattan with driver Celestino.
In Brooklyn, we've already delivered four boxes of apples to a pie shop,
and there's no time to linger.
On a typical round, drivers have to make ten deliveries.
Next stop, an upmarket grocery store,
but there's no loading bay.
What's this truck like to park?
There's a space outside the store,
but Kelby isn't sure the 8.2m-long truck will fit.
It's tight. That's really tight.
-I don't think you're going to get in there.
A space comes free, but it's a bus stop and we've got company.
Parking is a huge challenge for the city's delivery drivers.
This distribution company alone rings up 180,000 of fines a year.
There's a traffic warden. Is it OK to park here?
Uh... We'll find out.
Drivers like Kelby have no choice but to risk fines.
New Yorkers are relying on them
for the daily drop of fresh fruit and veg.
Do you want me to help you out? Let me help you out with these.
-So, how many deliveries of apples a week would you get?
We get about 200 kilos a week.
-That's a lot of apples.
-Yeah, it is a lot of apples.
I mean, everything you see here is probably going to get sold today.
All of this will go?
Yeah, all this will go. We'll re-stock this later today.
The city's 5,500 food stores and 24,000 restaurants
are the final link in New York's food chain.
They're the front line of this vast network.
We bring the beef. Hi.
From here, there's only one more stop - the customer's stomach.
How many steaks do you sell a day here?
Whoa, that's a good question.
A lot. We serve around 350, 400 dinners and lunches.
Steaks that have travelled 200 miles from farmer to abattoir,
butcher to restaurant,
finally landing on the plates of hungry New Yorkers as a 90 meal.
And that's it. It's 7am, the end of a night shift,
and these guys are packing up to go home.
And, guys, business has been good, because last night 75 trucks came in
and by this morning, they'd shifted 408 tonnes of fish.
It's been a brilliant night,
and fascinating to get under the skin of what it takes to feed
this city, and also understand the level of smell this place produces,
because we are whiffy.
Hey, I don't know about you guys, but I smell all right.
-He smells terrible.
-Eau de scampi.
Tonight, we've shown you what it takes to feed New York.
Next time, we're in Central Park and we reveal what it's like
to live in this city.
Ade hits the streets of Harlem.
And I saw a man run by,
followed by another man with a gun and he was shooting at us.
-Shooting at you?
Dan gets into deep water on Coney Island.
So, the ocean came in round the back?
Yes, it flooded the entire area.
Ant's in the city, discovering that even thin air has a price tag.
You spent 1 billion and you didn't get any land?
And I'm hearing what residents love and hate about the Big Apple.
I just feel like there's never a dull moment in New York.
My rent doubled overnight.
The second part of this three-part series, revealing the astonishing daily systems that allow America's biggest and busiest city to function. Anita Rani, Ade Adepitan, Ant Anstead and Dan Snow are in New York. From their base at the New Fulton fish market in The Bronx, they reveal the hidden nighttime operations, hard-nosed negotiations and price fluctuations of this wholesale operation. It is a stock exchange for seafood.
This time, Anita, Ade and Ant trace New York's food back to its source. Ade discovers that New York state produces an astonishing 600,000 tonnes of apples, more than 2.5 times Britain's entire production. Anita visits a cattle farm that supplies the steakhouses of New York and finds their diet includes chocolate, crisps and pasta.
Ant visits the New New York Bridge - a $4 billion project that will provide a new transport artery for the city. Dan Snow heads to Freshkills on Staten Island. Once the world's biggest landfill with 150 million tonnes of rubbish, it has been transformed into 2,200 acres of parkland.
And we report on the revolution overtaking New York's food delivery networks. Our cameras go out with the takeaway delivery drivers responsible for getting 180,000 chicken wings to hungry New Yorkers.