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Sign-On Letter for Oakland ECAP

Sign-On Letter for Oakland ECAP

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Published by Raj Patel

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Published by: Raj Patel on Feb 11, 2010
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CaliforniaFood and Justice Coalition
Garrett FitzgeraldSustainability Coordinator, Public Works Agency AdministrationCity of Oakland250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 4314Oakland, CA 94612Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:Oakland city staff, elected officials, and residents should be commended for their efforts to create a comprehensive Energyand Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% below 2005 levels by 2050. The City of Oakland hasthe opportunity to reduce emissions while strengthening the local economy and promoting equitable development in low-income communities of color by prioritizing local food system development and local water security measures.The industrial agri-foods system is one of the greatest contributors of GHG emissions.Studies
show that, globally, up to32% of emissions are related to food system activities including production, transportation, processing, and storage.Simultaneously, emerging data show that an acre of land used for organic food production, in urban areas and otherwise,can sequester up to 174 tons of carbon.
Similarly, water use contributes 19% of GHG emissions in California annually.
 Conserving water, as well as rebuilding a healthy, local food system, offers immense opportunity to reduce emissionsthrough activities including rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, urban agriculture, and local foods procurement. Theadditional benefits are many: creation of green-collar jobs, water security, and increased access to healthy food for low-income communities.Oakland must build the infrastructure for its residents to maintain access to fresh, healthy food and water without relying onfossil fuels to import that food and water. As the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the earth’s climate systems grow,this will become even more critical.Movement Generation and California Food and Justice Coalition, and the undersigned organizations and individualsstrongly encourage the City of Oakland to enact policies that will help the City achieve food system localization and water conservation in Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan.The following document outlines how the City can address theneed to increase water security, reduce stormwater run-off, and support the development of a local, sustainable foodsystem. We look forward to hearing your response to our recommendations, and we hope to partner with you in order toimplement them.
Bellarby, Jessica, Bente Foereid, et al. “Cool Farming: Climate Impacts of Agriculture and Mitigation Potential” Greenpeace. 2008. January 18, 2010.http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/cool-farming-full-report.pdf  
Hozyash, Krista. “Cropping super-sequestration options pack big carbon wallop.” Global Warming 2009 Rodale Institute. January 18, 2010.http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20100121/gwr_cropping_super-sequestration_options_pack_big_carbon_wallop 
See California Energy Commission (CEC), 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report, CEC-100-2005-007CMF, Sacramento, November 2005, pg. 150,
Yours Sincerely,Shereen D’Souza and Michelle MascarenhasDirector, Acting Director CA Food and Justice Coalition Movement Generation510-704-0245 510-649-1475
With the Undersigned:Here we can include the names, titles and organizations and maybe locations of everyone who wants to sign-on.Because this is low-tech, I think we should just add the names ourselves of any org that wants to sign-on.
Low-Emission Food System Policies
 As the table below indicates, GHG emissions are released in all components of the food system. In this letter we havechosen to focus on reducing emissions through policies thatreduce food miles and rebuild sustainable, local foodproduction systems. Opportunities also exist to reduceemissions within the household storage and preparation,processing, and packaging sectors of the food system.
Localize Our Food SystemEnergy Flows in the US Food System
  A low-emission food system is one that it is localized,meaning that food is produced, processed and distributednear where it is consumed, reducing transportation miles.Local food travels far less - and thus releases fewer emissions - than non-local food. According to a WorldWatchInstitute study, a typical meal bought at a conventionalsupermarket chain consumes four to 17 times morepetroleum for transport than the same meal using localingredients
. Despite California’s massive productioncapacity, California imports 40% of its food, which translatesinto at least 250,000 tons of GHGs, according to an NRDC study of major ports in California.
A recent academic reportestimated that “organic, sustainable agriculture that localizes food systems has the potential to mitigate nearly thirty percentof global greenhouse gas emissions and save one-sixth of global energy use.
Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian (2000) Life Cycle-Based Sustainability Indicators for Assessment of the U.S. Food System (CSS00-04).
Hal Walweil, "Home Grown: The Case for Local Food In A Global Food Market" 2002, Worldwatch Institute.
NRDC Policy Fact Sheet, "Food Miles: How far your food travels has serious consequences on your health", Page 2, NRDC, 2007
El-Hage Scialabba, N. and C. Hattam (eds.). 2002. Organic Agriculture, Environment, and Food Security. Rome: UN Food and Agriculture Organization(Environment and Natural Resources Service, Sustainable Development Department).
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
Buy California
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).
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