Tonight, I am participating in the inaugural 30 Project dinner, which is a gathering of activists, academics, organizers, cooks, co-op grocery retail proprietors, et al– anyone who has a vested interest in creatively strategizing ways to make our regional food system more sustainable, holistic, accessible, and equitable, all within 30 year’s time.
In preparation for tonight’s event, all participants have been asked to think about two questions:
In terms of the latter, projects like Phat Beets offer inspiration, projects that have an understanding of the necessity to work across fields and collaborate with health professionals in order to decrease health inequities in North Oakland communities. Phat Beets site their farmers’ markets at strategic locations, and where they can be most impactive, and truly increase access to communities that could benefit most. This means siting markets at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, at the St. Martin de Porres School, and North Oakland Arlington Medical Center. Not only does Phat Beets site their markets in communities that could most benefit, they also incentivize the purchase of fresh produce to Children’s Hospital patients by offering $5.000 vouchers, called Beet Bucks. Where food costs were once a barrier to purchasing nutritious food, Phat Beets is paving a path that allows low-income Oaklanders to have a more active role in determining what they consume.
This is a project that I believe is a system-changing solution; it functions at the neighborhood level, and directly connects low-income people with fresh produce. Affordable produce markets like this allow people to have an increased say in their food choices. Increasing access and available choices in low-income communities is a vital step in restructuring the food system.
What do you think? What are system-changing solutions that you see happening in your community at the moment?
PS: Following the dinner, the photo at the top of this entry was added to this blog entry. It shows the permanent structure in which we dined, and which will remain at Hayes Valley Farm.