Tuesday, May 24, 2011

eat local for food justice

Phat Beets produce

I'm a fan of Oakland Grown, which celebrates Oakland businesses and artists, and encourages people to spend their money locally. In part because money spent locally tends to stay local, stimulating Oakland's economy and creating jobs. I'm also a big fan of urban farming, particularly as it relates to food justice. City Slicker Farms is one great example.

Another reason to grow food and eat locally is to have a better idea of where your food comes from and what's in it and on it. Would you prefer highly processed food with unpronounceable ingredients, grown by an agri-corp, shipped across the country? or fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables and goods, grown and produced by family farms? Shouldn't everyone have access to good food? Some people deal with this by shopping at one of the Oakland farmers markets, or by growing some of their own food.

Mandela Foods Cooperative recently won the Ripple Effect Award at the Oakland Indie Awards, demonstrating both these things. Based in West Oakland, they provide healthy food grown on family farms, as well as nutrition information. They source and hire locally, which has a ripple effect by keeping money and jobs local. And they provide healthy food in an area without many grocery stores.

But what if you don't live in West Oakland? Or you can't get to a farmers market as often as you'd like? Another option is a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) produce box, which is like having items hand-picked from a farmers market and delivered to your neighborhood. An Oakland CSA I learned about recently is Phat Beets Produce, based in North Oakland's Bushrod neighborhood. Besides getting food from family farms to Oakland residents, they also have a local garden, teach kids about food and farming, and sell items at local farmers markets.

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