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Christopher J. Curran and Marc-Tizoc González

excerpted from:  Christopher J. Curran and Marc-Tizoc González, Food Justice as Interracial Justice: Urban Farmers, Community Organizations and the Role of Government in Oakland, California, 43 University of Miami Inter-American Law Review 207 (Fall 2011) (114 Footnotes Omitted)


Urban farming may be the latest evolution in the long struggle for interracial justice in Oakland, California. This broad movement for food justice has arisen due to a depending community health crisis; communities of color have long faced disproportionate rates of cancer, diabetes, and illnesses associated with lack of access to nutritious food and other forms of environmental racism. Section I of this paper, Interracial justice, explains our understanding of the concept and practice of interracial justice. Section II, The Black Panthers and the connection between food and political self-determination, details how the people's survival programs established by the Black Panther Party and related activism of past decades has laid the groundwork for new coalitions among disparate groups that are coming to recognize a common stake in achieving greater autonomy through food justice. Section III, Food insecurity in a land of plenty, describes the dimensions of Oakland's community health crisis and traces how the public-private partnerships have led to the establishment of an Oakland Food Policy Council, one of several mechanisms supported by the local government to facilitate the establishment of community gardens and productive green space to be managed by neighborhood groups. Section IV, California's commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, addresses the legislation, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), that mandates statewide emissions reductions to 1990 levels by 2020 and analyzes the conflict between environmental justice communities and the California Air Resources Board over its plans to implement AB 32 through a cap-and-trade program. Section V, The role of the food system in an emissions reduction analysis, argues that current emissions reduction measures proposed by state authorities fail to take the agricultural sector's contribution to climate change into account. Section VI, Urban agriculture as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, urges food justice activists to lobby for, and governmental agencies to support, empirical studies comparing the level of emissions related to current systems of food production to projected emissions from a more localized system. Such data could encourage investment in urban agriculture as an emissions reductions measure in compliance with AB 32. Section VII, Revaluing the agricultural skills of immigrants, proposes that, should increased state support for urban agriculture materialize, it could be channeled to green jobs programs that provide a forum for immigrants with experience in traditional farming practices to pass on their knowledge in training programs for the youth. Finally, Section VIII, Prospects for food justice in Oakland, acknowledges the bureaucratic challenges that would be involved in a large-scale, state-supported urban agriculture program, and notes that some food justice activists prefer to grow food on their own terms, without government involvement.