Support Sustainable, Low-Emission Food Production Methods
A low-carbon food system is also one that prioritizes the consumption of organic food over conventional food. Numerousstudies have demonstrated that organic and sustainable farming practices use dramatically lower rates of per acre fossil fuelinputs than conventional systems, which in turn translates into carbon emissions, as much as 48 to 66 percent lower,according to one FAO study.
Additional Benefits To Localizing Our Food System
The creation of a local, organic, and sustainable food system will yield a host of other social, economic, and environmentalbenefits for Oakland and the surrounding region.Food system localization creates high quality green collar jobs in production, processing, and distribution. These jobs aremeaningful, stable (because the food sector does not shrink), and don’t require applicants to have advanced degrees to beeligible for employment.Food system localization could provide significant community economic development opportunities for Oakland andsurrounding areas. According to a study by the State of California’s
initiative, a 10% shift in annualpurchases, or about $85 dollars per year at the retail level, would generate $848 million in increased revenues to farms,3,478 more jobs in the agricultural industry, $1.38 billion in communities across the State and about $188 million in taxes for local and state governments.
Community gardens and back-yard food production also offer significant potential to reduce poverty and diet relateddiseases. Surveys of City Slicker Farm’s Backyard Garden Program participants show that the average family participatingin the program saved $316 per year by growing food on a plot as small as 112 square feet. In a related experiment, Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International grew $2,200 of produce on 1,750 square feet of backyard space, during the six-month Maine growing season
. Furthermore, a local food system can reduce food costs by insulating cities from increasedfood transportation costs associated with oil price hikes. Increasing access to affordable, healthy food reduces diet-relateddiseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which in turn reduces missed days of work and school, as well as the burdenon our health care system.
Let’s Build On Oakland’s Past and Current Food System Reform Initiatives
Oakland already boasts some of the most innovative food system localization programs and policies in the nation. Weencourage the City to promote, integrate and build upon these initiatives in Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan.The 2006 city-wide food system assessment suggested that up to 30% of Oakland’s food needs could be sourced fromwithin City limits and the immediate region (referred to as the City’s “Food Shed”). One promising opportunity for growingmore food within the City is on underutilized public land; a recently released inventory of public land suitable for urbanagriculture identified approximately 1,200 acres of undeveloped open space at 495 sites. The majority of these parcels arearable and located within
mile of public transportation. A third of the parcels are within a quarter mile of a school, and 7.5percent have an EBMUD meter.
Tootelian, Dennis H (2003/, The Economic impact of shifts in consumer purchasing patterns to more California grown agricultural commodities. Available from theBuy California Initiative, CDFA
Doiron, Roger. “What’s a Home Garden Worth?” Kitchen Gardeners International 2009. 18 January 2010http://www.kitchengardeners.org/2009/03/whats_a_home_garden_worth.html
Nathan McClintock and Jenny Cooper, “Cultivating the Commons: An Assessment of the Potential for Urban Agriculture on Oakland’s Public Land” (2009).