Guest post: Food accessibility is a vegan issue »
I was sitting at my desk, staring at my coffee, when my co-worker walked in with a bag of cherries and said, “God, organic fruit at the farmers’ market is fucking expensive.”
At least we have a farmers’ market nearby selling local, organic fruit and vegetables, I thought, and my co-worker has the resources to buy some. When discussions of veganism and privilege come up–as they seem to be doing with increased frequency—there’s some understandable defensiveness from vegans, and some valid concerns that the “veganism is for rich white people” trope is both wrong and insulting to anyone not rich or white. But there remain striking differences food access across communities. This should concern everyone, but especially us veganism advocates.
A recent survey [pdf] by the very rad Food Empowerment Project (FEP) lays out the data. Looking at Santa Clara County specifically, they found that:
“On average, higher-income areas have twice as many locations with fresh fruits and vegetables compared to the lower-income areas…14 times more locations with frozen fruit and six times more locations with frozen vegetables.… In addition to being generally less available in lower-income areas, the variety of produce is also limited in these locations.”
Some of these findings are helpfully laid out in chart form:
Other sections point out things that should be obvious to those of us who live, work, or generally exist in urban cores, but are worth stating plainly: there are fundamental differences between supermarkets and small corner groceries; meat and dairy alternatives are virtually nonexistent in many communities, despite high levels of lactose-intolerance in some of those populations; that, along with being “cash-poor,” many providers in low-income communities and communities of color are “time-poor,” way too overstretched by multiple jobs and responsibilities to travel to a distant shop for decent produce, return home, and prepare dinner. The FEP study calls this “environmental racism.” Check out the full thing, along with their recommendations, here [pdf].
Your ability to make healthy food choices shouldn’t depend on your address or income, and lack of access to fruits and vegetables amounts to a public health crisis in many places. The growing trend of farmers’ markets accepting food stamps is a welcome development: by expanding access to good food rather than restricting access to junk, it’s also a much smarter, and less paternalistic and classist way to encourage people to eat well. (Another option would be to eat all the locavores, provided they were humanely put down, with reverence for all that they would provide us, but that’s a topic for another post.)
As vegans, it should matter to us especially. When we tell others to go vegan–which we should–it’s crucial to consider what barriers might stand in their way. Some are ideological, reflective of long-standing habits and assumptions, but some are more practical, like whether they can get to a market that sells non-gross apples. The ability to do so does mark a sort of privilege that needs to be recognized and dismantled, even if anti-vegan internet goofballs like to cite it for their own purposes.
And finally, concern about food security and access shouldn’t be the domain of a borderline-sociopathic “locavore” community that seems to raise these issues only to argue that we need to kill chickens in our yards. We shouldn’t cede that ground (sign a petition against at-home chicken-slaughter right now!). Everyone deserves decent food, produced sustainably, locally, and without poisons, and vegan advocates should be on the frontlines of that push. The FEP’s work is a good place to start.
Rick Kelley is a recent transplant to the Bay, having fled the brutal Minnesota winters for warmer climes. He spends his days at a Oakland workers’ rights nonprofit and his evenings probably playing moderately accurate renditions of Propagandhi songs with his awesome partner and their rescued pup, Bandit. He’s also currently active in organizing against Oakland’s “Let’s All Kill Some Chickens in Our Yards For Fun” proposal. He used to blog, and might do so again someday.
Every day is Earth Day when you’re vegan »
For Earth Day this year I celebrated by attending Berkeley Vegan Earth Day, hosted by eco-friendly event planner Karine Brighten. Though you may be thinking, “Earth Day was soooo last week, why are you getting around to this now?” I have two reasons: One is that I am a slacker. Two is that it doesn’t matter because EVERY DAY SHOULD BE EARTH DAY! And the information is still relevant!
What was special about this particular Earth Day event was the link Brighten emphasized between veganism and its positive impact on both animals and the environment, as well as exploring “reasons and ways to take that commitment even further.” Mission accomplished, girlfriend!
Berkeley Vegan Earth Day included a screening of the documentary Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction, followed by a panelist discussion and catered reception.
To put it mildly, Call of Life was intense. Really, read its tag line: “If current trends continue, scientists warn that within a few decades at least HALF of all plant and animal species on Earth will disappear forever.” We live on a planet full of ecosystems that depend on each other for survival. When one species, whether plants or animals, begins to dwindle or become extinct, it causes a ripple effect to which human animals are not immune. The scientists, anthropologists, philosophers and psychologists featured in this documentary are hypothesizing that if we don’t fundamentally change our behavioral and societal patterns (RIGHT NOW) we are going to contribute to both the extinction of the plants and animals on our planet as well as ourselves.
Another point this movie touched upon was that as humans, we are not oblivious to this going on around us and may suffer from feelings of terror, anger, and despair. Yet our society is adept at pushing consumerism as a way to suppress those feelings, or block them out entirely. We buy the things we “deserve” to feel better, and indulge in meat though we know factory farming is vicious and inhumane, as well as a direct reason for clear-cutting rain forests. The longer this movie sat with me, the more powerfully my thoughts centered around throwing myself off my second-story balcony, but then I remembered I was hosting Easter this year, which would hopefully save at least one pig sent for slaughter this spring (nothing like an agave-brown sugar seitan roast). Activism, people! It saves lives!
Next up were the vegan panelists: David Vlansey, the executive producer of Call of Life, Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project, Hope Bohanec of In Defense of Animals, and Alex Eaves of Stay Vocal.
My favorite points from the discussion include:
- In the US farm workers are not paid overtime, though in pretty much every other professional it is mandatory. There are laws against compensating them for overtime.
- Environmental racism—it’s no coincidence that oil refineries, land fills, truck depots,etc happen to be located around low income neighborhoods and communities of color. These areas have higher rates of cancer and pollutants along with less access to health care or healthy foods. Examples of these regions in the SF Bay Area include Richmond and Martinez.
- The only difference between organic beef and conventional beef is what they are fed. Eating organic beef doesn’t effect green house or fossil fuel admissions.
- It’s not feasible to have enough grass-fed, free-range meat to feed 6 billion people (the Earth’s population). There simply isn’t enough room.
- Eating vegan is eating green. Two vegan meals a week is better than eating an organic, locally sourced lifestyle.
- Recycling is failure to reuse.
- It takes 400 gallons of water for all the cotton that goes into one new t-shirt.
- If his friends that own coffeeshops were to charge everyone that brought in their own travel mug $1 and $5 for every paper cup, people could then pay for their ignorance and denial.
The reception was catered by Millennium, which was great for me, as I’ve never eaten there.
Brighten said she is “extremely happy to have had such an amazing turnout, and so much support from the community.” Sign up for her newsletter to receive updates on upcoming events here! I may have heard a rumor about vegan speed dating in Berkeley in the near future.
The Worldwide Vegan Bakesale is ON, son! »
Check the site for where your local bakesale is, but there’s some in SF and NYC! Dang, what did you guys do to deserve this? There are THREE BAKESALES around the Bay on Saturday, Apr. 30! That’s a lot of Earth Balance!
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Splash Pad Park (Grand and Lake Park Avenues) near the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market
Join us for a yummy vegan bake sale to benefit Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary. We are looking for both eaters and bakers to support our
event. All baked goods are vegan! To join in, email
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of Cafe Trio, 363 3rd St. in San Rafael (Montecito Shopping Plaza)
Looking for bakers and eaters of delectable vegan treats for Marin County’s first vegan bakesale, in celebration of the Worldwide Vegan Bakesale and in solidarity with the people and animals of Japan.
Willow Glen (San Jose)!
Saturday, noon to 2 p.m. at Baby Buzz Café, 1314 Lincoln Ave. (in Charming Willow Glen) San Jose.
Stroll the boulevard and have a treat or two, take some home. We have vegan zucchini muffins, strawberry mini cakes, Cho-P-nut butter cookies, focaccia bread, muffins, seed breads, fruit pies, beer bread, Psycho Donuts, doggie treats and more! All vegan, slave-free, and organic! We’re raffling a copy of Vegan Planet, dollar-off coupons, and sunshine and smiles!
All proceeds will go to support of 13th Street Cat Rescue and The Food Empowerment Project. BAKERS WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE! We also need doggie treat bakers! Call (408) 355.0436 with questions.
East-Coasters do not fear! There are also two in NYC this weekend!
Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m. at Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan St.
We’d love for you to stop by and grab a delicious treat and perhaps a beverage to wash it down. Plus we all know you have a soft spot for kitties and fun!
When: Sunday, May 1, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Mooshoes, 78 Orchard St.
We’ll be there with cookies, cupcakes and all manner of deliciousness. The good folks from For the Animals will also be there selling handmade jewelry and answering any questions you may have about the sanctuary. And Hannah Kaminsky, author of My Sweet Vegan, will be there signing copies of her new book, Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season!
Everybody, get out and get chunky! It’s time to eat for charity!
[Photo from NYC Vegan Bakeslae by Eva Prokop. Try not to die from its cuteness/sanitation issues. Screw it, I’d rather that kitten touch something I ate than most humans, for reals.]
Food Empowerment Project’s fair trade chocolate list! »
You know how most conventional chocolate is flavored with children’s tears? Actually, it’s much, much worse than that but I can’t bring myself to write about it because if I did, I’d have to hit the streets afterwards and start punching Whatchamacallits out of people’s idiot faces.
Lucky for us, we can happily eat everything on the Food Empowerment Project’s list, which includes companies like Sjaaks (we want all the Eli Earth bars SO BAD) and Allison’s Gourmet (looooove, look at those insane pb cups)! Check out the whole list, which includes ice cream companies who use chocolate, too! Vegan ice cream can be evil!? Sadness. Support these companies and not the others because seriously, chocolate that’s not fair trade is FUCKED.
Sf Vegan Drinks is THIS THURSDAY! It’s on like Donkey Kong! »
Almost entirely copied from the press release because I have a real job and don’t have all day to sit around being amazing for you SHIT.
Just a heads-up that the March installment of SF Vegan Drinks is THIS Thursday, Mar. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Martuni’s (4 Valencia St. at Market Street). Not only is this a fantastic chance to mingle with other interesting vegans while enjoying drink specials (This month: $5 Peach Melba Martinis (!!!) and a host of non-alcoholic beverage options, you can support a local non-profit as well!
This month, we’re raffling off a dozen cupcakes from Fat Bottom Bakery, and all money goes to the Food Empowerment Project (check out that gorgeous new website!). Don’t miss your chance to win these sweet treats! Raffle tickets are $1 each.
Vegansaurus is an official sponsor of SF Vegan Drinks, so get your ass out there to meet and greet with us and buy us drinks and possibly get a lap dance ON THE HOUSE.*
*Lap dances cost $20. NO TOUCHING. Always tip your dancer.
Un-Cookbook review: The Raw Healing Patch! Veganize your rawness! »
In my last post on Vegansaurus, I offered a few strategies for making raw organic foods more accessible and affordable, especially for young people and lower-income folks living in the Bay Area. Wherever you fall on the raw-to-cooked spectrum, it’s indisputable that the raw food movement is helping to bring more folks into the vegan fold, which is something all vegans can be happy about. It seems to me that if we find creative ways to motivate raw foodists to go full-on vegan (e.g., rain down on them with mad knowledge, advice, free vegan food and love), we can help them discover that, through raw veganism, they can make a huge difference not only for their own health, but also for the health of the planet. A couple good places to start are local nonprofit People’s Grocery and Lauren Ornelas’ fabulous food justice/human rights/environmental advocacy group the Food Empowerment Project, which work to source ethical products and make organic produce accessible to everyone.
In the spirit of accessibility, I recently got my hands on a copy of The Healing Patch Cookbook produced by the down-to-earth, super-ecologically conscious, queer veg couple Julie Cara Hoffenberg and Sarah Woodward, who together make up the raw food team known as The Healing Patch. The cookbook, which they were kind enough to also make available in an eco-friendly e-book format, is utterly unpretentious, and a great way to usher rawies into the ethical vegan eating path. Hoffenberg and Woodward make clear throughout the witty cookbook that their way of eating and (un)cooking is just that—their way—and that they would never wish to impose them on anyone else; yet they are very clear that raw veganism has remarkably improved their lives. Healing Patch’s primary goal is to offer gentle coaxing to adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, basing their recipes and advice on what helped Woodward heal after her battle with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, they do this without laying on the sorts of guilt-trips or strict guidelines usually found in these .
Healing Patch’s recipes are really easy to make, require no esoteric ingredients, and have cute little factoids, including nutritional profiles. They also offer useful tips on economical home sprouting, gardening, selecting the best produce for each season, and how to substitute recipe ingredients for whatever is local and fresh whenever possible. They succeed at providing ample tricks for being a raw vegan while healing yourself and the planet at the lowest possible expense.
The one issue I take with this otherwise charming volume is that some of the recipes include dairy, ostensibly in order to help folks to “transition more gently” to raw veganism. This is disappointing, especially since the authors clearly believe in the tenets of raw veganism and oppose cruelty and oppression. It seems to me like the duo hasn’t quite made the connection that the dairy industry is horribly cruel and directly supports the meat industry. Maybe they should pick up feminist masterpiece The Sexual Politics of Meat by my personal hero Carol J. Adams—which, by the way, has just been released in a newly updated 20th anniversary edition!
Once Healing Patch gets educated in the ways of vegan feminism by Adams, I’m sure they’ll be willing to make all of their recipes totally vegan. Feel free to comment to them about this on their website—it will be good practice for the raw foodists you’ll be converting to raw veganism in the near future! Anyway, hopefully the next edition of The Healing Patch (which I do hope they eventually write!) will address this concern.
This is the second post written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!
We made over $4,200 at this Saturday’s SF Vegan Bakesale. $4,200. HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. I thought the last sale was amazing (and it was!) but this tops it by $1,600. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT? I’m still freaking out.
All the money is split equally between Food Empowerment Project and SaveABunny. They are both The Wonderful Best so you should visit their sites and give them everything you own. Owning stuff is bullshit anyway, give it all away. Let’s all live in a house together, and share a hot tub! SORRY THAT IS THE BAKESALE HIGH TALKING. I’ll be back to making jokes about how gross hippies are (hilarious!) and calling you all names by early next week.
Also, aren’t those two dudes the cutest? Check out more photos from the sale too! The bakesale crew is the more adorable, right?? I love everyone. Until Tuesday.
OH AND, we’ll have more on this soon but the hot ladies of Fat Bottom Bakery are planning the first ever East Bay Vegan Bakesale!! It’s set for Saturday, Jan. 9th, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Issues in Oakland. We’ll totally be there and you should contact them immediately about baking and volunteering! They even have a twitter so get to following! As for the SF Vegan Bakesale, we’ll be back in February just in time for Valentine’s Day (awww or PUKE, depending on how cynical/realistic/coupled you are), MORE DETAILS VERY SOON!
THE SF VEGAN BAKESALE IS TOMORROW. We already have Candy Cane Joe-Joe cupcakes and peanut butter bars chilling at our house right now and another vegansaur is working on pumpkin cinnamon rolls and another vegansaur is working on croissants. VEGAN CROISSANTS. Believe it. In addition to the delicious, really bad for you, fatty fat stuff, there will also be raw & gluten-free treats. And dog cookies too. We got you covered. (I’m doing that two fingers to my eyes and then two fingers to your eyes thing…it’s pretty creepy, you love it.)
OH AND DID WE MENTION THAT THERE WILL BE CUDDLY BUNNIES OTS? YEP.
See you tramps there!
SF Vegan Bakesale, TAKE TWO! Let’s do this, vegans! »
There was the Worldwide Vegan Bakesale, SF in June and the first SF Vegan Bakesale in October and they were both such insane successes (a total of $5,600 raised for awesome animal groups!) that we’re BACK! And we is better than ever!
Our next sale will raise money for Food Empowerment Project, who work with youth and low-income populations to make healthier, more informed food choices AND SaveABunny, who saves the shit out of the CUTEST BUNNIES EVER. Added bonus, we’ll have adoptable bunnies on the scene (!!!) and ready to go home with loving, awesome homes.
Check it out Saturday, December 5th, in front of Ike’s Place (3506 16th St. at oh come on you know where Ike’s is fine it’s Sanchez can’t you go anywhere without Google Maps?), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We badly need volunteers, eaters, bakers, paper plates, compostable to-go containers & flatware, and hella publicity to make this awesome so mobilize, vegan (pacifist) army and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can/want to/feel obligated to pitch in! Let’s make this happen!!!
Oh, we also have a twitter set up! FOLLOW US!