Date posted: July 21, 2014

Oakland Badass: Navina Khanna

Categories: Community | No Comments


I think I just hit “post” on congratulating Kelly, when I got the news that our very own Navina Khanna is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for her tireless leadership in food and farm policy to create an equitable food system.

“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” Sure!! Navina Khanna is one of five winners of the James Beard Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries in the world of food politics and sustainable agriculture. The foundation president, Susan Ungaro, stated “We’re known for awarding the Oscars of the food world…I’m so proud that we’ve also been recognizing, for four years now, the leaders of the food movement, those individuals who are making Americans think more seriously about how we eat, what we eat and where our food is grown. They are helping to raise Americans’ awareness so that they not only care about how our food tastes but where it comes from.”

It’s not that I’m bragging (that’s a lie), its just, Los Angeles is where the movie stars are and Oakland is where the food stars choose to apply their deep talents. Yet, again I have the immense fortune of working directly with a ninja-badass-grand-dame-queen-beast of food through my work at Oakland Food Policy Council. What I find most striking about Navina is that her passion for transformative change doesn’t stop at the end of her work day. This woman lives her words. Her home is a social hub of organizing and food growing.

Navina will be joined this year by Karen Washington, Ben Burkett, Michael Pollan, and Mark Bittman. She will also join the ranks of past recipients such as Michelle Obama, Marion Nestle and Alice Waters.

Learn more about Navina’s work at Movement Strategy Center and Live Real.

I stand in humble solidarity and service with amazing human beings. Take over the world, Kelly & Navina, take over the world…

Date posted: July 15, 2014

Oakland Badass: Kelly Carlisle


While I’ve been on extended sabbatical from my blog, I have been neck deep in the Oakland food system world, never letting up on working to ensure we have the right to grow our own food in Oakland. My work has blessed me with the honor and privilege of being in close contact with the power houses of our community, one of which is Kelly Carlisle of Acta Non Verba. While I’ve mentioned her organization a couple of years ago, here and there, you don’t even understand. Kelly is taking things to the next level with her youth urban farm. In fact, her success has most recently been noted by none other than Mr. President Barak Obama. Ms. Carlisle was invited to attend an Iftan dinner in celebration of Ramadan. At the opening of this dinner, our President made a speech which included recognizing that the dinner was held in honor of a tradition of discipline and devotion. That they were there to share values of peace, charity, family and community, upholding justice, care for those with the least among us, and love for one another. He said we are all deserving of an equal opportunity to thrive and that all of us have the obligation to do our part to reverse the injustice of inequality.

He then said there were attendees present that epitomize this spirit with their actions and uplift our society. He is just going to mention a couple…Kelly Carlisle of Acta Non Verba, deeds not words…wait, wait, replay…whose name was that? (minute 2:12) KELLY CARLISLE!!! Oh, and note who sat next to her during dinner…

I could not be more proud of my friend and colleague. I am humbled to know her.


Date posted: February 28, 2014

The Deep

Categories: Random | 2 Comments

new seed

This is my voice coming back from deep in the underworld. I left off at Pluck & Feather November 2012. After the loss of the land where I kept my farm project; after travels within the cycle of life and death; and much transition, the last year has been a rite of passage. From that experience, among other things, what remains of Pluck & Feather shoots forth this spring. Seeds sown in secret…because some things can never truly be destroyed.

Date posted: November 12, 2012

Food Policy Scorecard

Categories: Community , Food | 1 Comment

Interestingly, Tom Colicchio of Top Chef has taken on the issue of food policy. He worked with a group of advocates to develop food policy action scorecard (can be found here) that ranks congress member votes on issues of hunger, food safety and farm subsidies. Definitely something to check out.

Date posted: November 9, 2012


Categories: Food | No Comments

Where has all the time gone? Pluck & Feather continues to crawl along into its new form. In the mean time, I stepped away from the norm and visited Cinque Terra, Italy. Crazy beautiful and I got lucky enough to meet a splendid family that showed me how to prepare the local sweet wine,  Sciacchetrà (pronounced shock-eh-trah). Delicious stuff.

A variety of grapes grown on the cliffside of the Vernazza were hung to dry some, not completely. Varieties included Bosco, Albarola, Vermentino and what I thought was said to be roja, but thats just “red.”

We plucked them and crushed them to macerate for a day. Then they were to be pressed and fermented.

While I was sad to not participate in the full process, I did get to enjoy a glass of the homemade concoction. So good.

Date posted: October 15, 2012

Antithesis of Urban Farming

Categories: Community , Food | 2 Comments

Hostess Twinkies (gah, I thought they were off the market?!) and Cupcakes already epitomize the kind of corporate control over food that leads to a compromise in food, culture and well being, so great that Twinkies were once used in defense of a murder charge. So what in god’s name inspired someone to batter and deep fry them, I will never know. I left before witnessing anyone eating them. I could not bear that truth.


Date posted: October 11, 2012

We’re Not Playing Out Here

A morning spent with Acta Non Verba director, Kelly, preparing for an international presentation we are giving on creative food system work happening in Oakland. Inspired. Then spotted an article in today’s New York Times about Acta Non Verba at Tassafaranga Park. There you have it. Go Kelly. Go to the pioneers that have set the way. Go Oakland.

Date posted: October 9, 2012

New Ground

Doesn’t look like much but its symbolic of a new beginning. The year has brought losses and gains. Its been hard to let go of those things that I have been attached to. Its been hard to witness the upheaval and destruction of a space I worked so hard to create. Yet, the actual space is not gone. It is just transformed and it will be better. I finally saw this after I dug drain trenches and inserted drain pines and river rocks; after a friend helped me build the frame for the new chicken run; after I considered how I can modify the existing coop to be better in its new home; and after I watched how the sun still tickles areas of the space enough to grow. Then I finally felt the truth in that idiom change is change, not good or bad. Its what we do with it that counts. So using what I have learned in observing plants through their seasons. Autumn is a time to let go. Winter is a time to go back to basics, gather energy and focus on the hardscape. Spring will be the true test of readiness to implement new ideas. Summer will demonstrate the results.

Date posted: October 6, 2012

I Like My Honey “Honey-Colored”

Categories: Bees , Food | 2 Comments

We live in a era where we have viagra, and other pharmaceuticals, in our water supply, unlabeled genetically modified foods, and now, blue honey thanks to M&M dye factories leaving their vats of colored liquid open. Basically an era where we have no choice over our exposure to a constant bombardment of chemicals in our air, water, food and soil. You would think cities across America would not hesitate to support their residents in the little solace they create for themselves and others in producing their own food, whether plant or animal based. If we choose to bike, to use solar or wind energy, to raise our own food- it gives us a shred of control over our bodies and the bodies of our children. In this world where exposure to chemicals now starts with the download of organically persistent chemicals in breast milk, it seems only the most humane thing to do. Let us have a chance to lead a healthy life with less exposure to unwanted chemicals.

Date posted: October 2, 2012

Gotta Love It

Categories: Economy , Food | 2 Comments

I started growing my own food as a way to reclaim my own food supply. In fact, to reclaim it through my cultural heritage a a means to foster the root of healthy food access and preparation that I believe rests in all families. Urban farming has been a journey exploring this as well as a direct tool for a political dialogue on ways to create a heathy, sustainable, equitable and locally owned food systems. Hence my focus on food policies and my tirades against fast food chains.

That said, I am pleased to share two recent policies passed that demonstrate thinking in a great direction. In California the Homemade Food Act passed (huge effort  of Sustainable Economies Law Center to make this happen). With this legislation, you can now skip the expensive step of leasing certified commercial kitchens before selling some home-prepared foods. The list of approved products include “non-potentially hazardous food” such as bread, fruit pies, jams, honey, dried nuts and other goods that don’t involve cream or meat ingredients. This enables the creation of a lucrative cottage food industry in California that can serve as an alternative source of income for residents.

Further afield in New York, the ban on sugary drinks greater than 16 fluid ounces also passed! This new policy applies to all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and even food carts. However, it does not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores, diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70-percent fruit juice, or that contain alcohol.

All in all, it seems the tide may be shifting.