Food and the Local Economy This Holiday Season

By Lotta Chan, CFJC Research Associate

This past Saturday, one of CFJC’s partner organizations, Acta Non Verba, held its first annual Elmhurst Community Craft and Health Faire. I had the opportunity to sit at CFJC’s booth and sell home-grown lentil sprouts, carefully cultivated by Jessy, one of CFJC’s interns.

The venue was filled with a dozen local artisans, selling their handmade wares which ranged from jams and chiles to dolls and hula hoops. Kelly Carlisle, Executive Director of ANV, set up the faire as a way to promote buying handmade gifts that support the local economy, and also encourage healthy diets and exercise.

The faire provided CFJC with the opportunity to not just sell sprouts, but begin the broader conversation about food access and quality in East Oakland. As community members filtered by our table piled high with a forest of bright green sprouts for sale, they became intrigued and began talking with us about food and what we had growing. I myself had never grown sprouts before either, so it was a great time to share growing and cooking practices. Lentil sprouts are a wonderful source of vitamin C and protein and can be grown indoors easily in just a few days, which helps provide some fresh, leafy greens during chilly winter months. While not everyone purchased a sprout box, almost everyone took a handout we created that explained the procedure for growing and cooking sprouts at home.

Moreover, in talking with residents of the Elmhurst community, they conveyed a great depth and understanding of the importance of eating fresh produce. I was delighted to hear that many were trying to grow their own food as well. Others had the enthusiasm to do so, but were constrained by time or energy or resources. Starting a home garden where none had existed before can be a tiring endeavor, which becomes even more complicated if you want to sell the harvest. For those wanting to earn some extra cash from their gardens during these hard economic times, procuring the correct permit(s) can be a confusing and expensive journey. The good news is, Oakland is updating its zoning codes right now to address growing food access concerns, and CFJC is excited to be a part of this process.

We’d love to hear from you as well. What are your concerns about food access and quality in your neighborhood? What resources would you like to see available in your community? Are you interested in getting involved in the food movement? Contact Lotta at lchan@cafoodjustice.org with any comments or questions you may have.

May you have a happy and healthy holiday!

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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

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