Takeout: People's Grocery Provides Food for All

March 17, 2009

As much as my socially-conscious friends tell me to eat locally, I'm broke.

Whole Foods, farmers' markets, and organic produce all sound beautiful, but they leave something more immediate -- my wallet -- sounding incredibly hollow after a visit. I always think, I can't afford it. Then, I got schooled.

A few weekends ago, I found myself at the People's Grocery monthly Grub Party, being quizzed on food facts like how many actual grocery stores existed in the economically-challenged areas of Oakland (answer: none) from two teenagers in purple and orange People Grocery T-shirts who knew exactly how to make sustainable food justice ideas actually hit home -- in a way that let me think about eating locally with respect to my realistic cash flow.

I gladly munched on some airy butternut squash and kale lasagna from People's Grocery guest chef Nancy Wei (a nutritionist with the equally socially-responsible Revolution Foods) while I listened to the assorted folks debate the answers to the pop quiz. One resident hotly countered the idea that there weren't any grocery stores nearby by saying,"There's produce in
the corner stores."

The young teenager manning the Price is Right-like board in front shot back, "Selling what? Potatoes?" She paused, and said firmly, "That's a start, but we can do better."

To help bridge the gap in access to healthy food, and to develop food justice where it is severely needed, People's Grocery runs a greenhouse and two urban gardens as well as a farm in nearby Sunol.

Guest chef Nancy Wei remembers growing up eating traditional Taiwanese and Chinese meals with her family. "No matter how long a day my parents had, they managed to put a freshly cooked dinner on the table. There was fresh produce in at least a couple dishes and fruit after the meal."

"When I talk to people who say they rarely sit down to a meal as a family, and that when they do, it hardly ever includes scratch-made food with fresh vegetables, I think about the food experience I had as a child and want that for those who don't or can't have it today."

She ties in her childhood memories with why she's sharing her love of good food with the People's Grocery community today. "Good food feeds not only the individual, but nurtures the family and in turn, builds a healthy community."

Food, and inspiration on a rainy Sunday morning? Check.

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