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The Street Beet features the original and illuminating opinions of folks involved with food and nutrition, discussing food as it pertains to health and medicine.

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Restorative Justice in Oakland: Investing in Public not Private Security!

In April of 2013 Donitra Henderson’s life was taken in North Oakland in front of her 4 year old son by an act of targeted gun violence, she was just 21 year’s old.  After reading local internet list-serves and speaking to numerous neighbors, we at Phat Beets Produce found that there was no organized or vocalized neighborhood response to support this motherless child or the woman’s family.  In fact when we posed the question on how we should organize to support and work on building a safer North Oakland alongside supporting this grieving family, the response we often got in the neighborhood was “well I heard she was…” or “that what happens to you when…” and when we started talking about building a safer North Oakland we heard over and over again “well we just need more police…”

Let me us offer a little background on our community work.  Phat Beets Produce is a food justice organization, and when we say food justice we mean healthy food and a healthy environment is a HUMAN RIGHT, not a privilege.  We had worked for nearly 7 years in this North Oakland community organizing small farmers markets, prescription vegetable programs, and youth gardens with various medical clinics including ones at Children’s Hospital.  We realized that if we didn’t start connecting the dots between environmental, economic, food, and housing justice that the families we worked with would not be able to 1) afford organic produce even with incentives, and 2) would not be able to access the gardens and markets in the neighborhoods we were currently organizing because of the rapid gentrification (aided by urban greening and farmers market) that was displacing huge swaths of Oakland’s Black (25% decrease of Oakland’s Black Population since 2000) and Latino populations.  We needed, by necessity, to develop new community based strategies with community partners such as Bethany Baptist Church to bring together scared, angry, disenfranchised, and passionate neighbors around healing, health, and greening.

In Early May of 2013 we contacted Donitra’s family and offered support with fundraising, a memorial mural,  and a fruit tree planting ceremony to honor her life and bring together various factions of our community to address community level and structural level violence by first healing together.  Alongside muralists from Community Rejuvenation Project, organizers from Growing Together, members of Dover St. Neighborhood Group, and over 40 members of Donitra Henderson family, we organized a community BBQ and fruit tree planting.yo4.jpg

On a warm Sunday in July 2013  at Dover St Edible Park in North Oakland, people from all across the bay gathered: numerous community healers, hip-hop artists, neighborhood activists and friends reunited unexpectedly from across and inside and out the Bay Area restorative justice movement.  This gathering included folks that had been organizing on both sides of the bars in San Quentin for restorative justice,  we came to celebrate the life of Donitra Henderson and all youth lost to violence.  That day the groundwork for what would become the North Oakland Restorative Justice Council was born.  The energy from this event was fed into the growing work at the historic Bethany Baptist Church under the leadership and vision of Rev.Johnny Leggett, which included Peace N’ Justice Community Walks and a campaign for Restorative Justice Alternative Sentencing for North Oakland(and all) Youth.  This got us thinking “what could we really do to support families suffering from physical, emotional and structural violence (like poverty), while not criminalizing people for being poor?”

We asked our community “How can we acknowledge the very valid concerns of feeling safe from muggings, burglaries, and drive by shootings, while also feeling empathy for the offenders by acknowledging and understanding the real forces such as abuse, racism, poverty, and gentrification that put people in the situation that causes them to do commit these acts of violence.”  As my dear friend and restorative justice mentors Rose and Malachi always say “Hurt People, HURT PEOPLE.”  How do heal the harm?  The answer was brought to us from the healing circle we had that sunny, Sunday afternoon at Dover St Edible Park with Donitra Henderson’s family.  The answer was restorative justice and the questions we have heard ever since that day from our police captain to local neighborhood crime prevention council chairs, to neighbors was “What is Restorative Justice? and how does it work?”

What is Restorative Justice? And how can it be used to make the whole community safer, not just a select few as with Private Security? According to Fania Davis of RJOY (Restorative Justice For Oakland Youth) Restorative Justice is “a philosophical framework and worldview, and it is also an approach to justice that emphasizes bringing together all affected by harm to address their needs and obligations and to heal the harm as much as possible” . Take a quick search on wikipedia  and you’ll find “Restorative justice (also sometimes called reparative justice)[1] is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, to repair the harm they’ve done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service”.

So how do we put restorative justice in action in Oakland to build public community safety for all Oakland Residents? Every 1st monday of the month 12-15 of us gather at Bethany Baptist Church to build community safety through the North Oakland Restorative Justice Council.  We review the month’s evictions, shootings, and conflicts in North Oakland as a council and we work to outreach to bring and organizing  monthly trainings, fundraisers, healing circles, and advancement of policy to implement a restorative justice alternative sentencing in North Oakland.  Each month we organize and gather 40-60 Oakland residents every 2nd Fridays at 6pm at Bethany Baptist Church to walk the streets show we care.  We visit sites of recent violence, talk to neighbors, and embody the work of Restorative Justice and building public community safety and the gathering is growing each month, with more and more families joining.

A growing concern in Oakland: private security for a select few, not public safety for us all. A trend that is sweeping through communities across Oakland under-going rapid change is “Private Security”.  Neighbors are banding together to crowdfund financial resources to hire private security firms to patrol affluent neighborhoods and neighborhoods rapidly gentrifying.  This is all in the name of “making neighborhoods safer.”  These Oakland residents have every right to feel safe and to be safe, the question arises “does resource intensive private security make the neighborhood safer for everyone, or just for the select few?”  Does private security address any of the root causes of why young people are going to Temescal, Rockridge, Diamond District, so on to steal iphones or car jack?  Is there any over-site for Private Security to make sure that class and race based profiling does not occur?  Who are the Private Security companies accountable to?  There are too many unanswered questions for us to be investing in something with so many uncertainties and with so much opposition across Oakland.

Let’s as commUNITY look at other models that are building long-term community safety for all members of our community, not a select few.  Let’s support these proven measures for building community safety that are ROOTED IN RESTORATIVE JUSTICE.  Here are just a small sample of amazing programs in Oakland that are building true community safety for all of Oakland’s residents: RJOY (Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth), CURYJ, Community Works West, PUEBLO, Attitudinal Healing Connection, Planting Justice, East Bay Boxing Association, Destiny Arts, North Oakland Restorative Justice Council, Temescal Security Alternatives and so many more.

We don’t need a moment of private security, we need a movement for restorative justice in Oakland. We challenge those that make contributions to Private Security Initiatives to match their contribution dollar for dollar to one of the amazing organizations listed above. To get involved in the movement for restorative justice in North Oakland subscribe to community Restorative Justice Text alert by texting Northoakland to 95577 or join our google group: North-Oakland-Restorative-Justice-Alliance.  More information is available at

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Phat Beets Hoodies,T-shirts, pickled beets and turnips and vinegars for sale! available for pick up or delivery with your CSA!!!

If you want one of these awesome made-in-the-US hoodies or Ts, send an email to to order and we’ll ship it to you! Or, if you have a CSA account with us, you can order it through our web store and it will be delivered with your CSA! If you’d like to order a CSA, visit here! Best part is, FREE SHIPPING with each purchase!

Phat Beets winter hoodies! **$35 each** comes in Black, size Medium and Large!

Farmers Market Manager Toveo Hill and his twin bro Toro, vendor for Avalos Farms, rocking the Black Hoodie

Some members of the Phat Beets Crew (left to right: Toveo, Marika, Mickey, Toro, Josh, Kate)

Back of hoodie

Purple and Black Phat Beets T-shirts for **$25** (Available in Medium and Large. Black T-shirt is same design as hoodie)

Toro rocking the Phat Beets Purple T (front)

Purple T (back)


“Ginger n’ Orange Phat Beetz” pickled beets and “Turnip ‘dem Beetz” pickled turnips are on sale for $7.50 each! Our pickled beets and turnips come in our special Phat Beets fermentation recipe and style and are deliciously sour!

"Ginger n' Orange Phat Beetz" and "Turnip dem Beets"

The “Ginger n Orange Beetz” include beets, white vinegar, orange, mustard seed, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, sea salt and thyme. The thyme is grown in the edible garden at Dover Park as part of the Healthy Hearts Youth Program, a youth-centered program that promotes  youth leadership in gardening, food systems change and healthy living, in collaboration with Phat Beets and Children’s Hospital.

Our “Turnip dem Beetz” recipe includes turnips, white vinegar, beets, mustard seed, jalepeno, garlic, sea salt and thyme. All of the vegetables in our fermented products are organic or pesticide free and come straight from small farmers of color in the Central Valley that we have been sourcing from for over 6 years. Support youth-lead urban agriculture and business ventures by buying our pickled beets! Proceeds from pickle sales go right back into the Healthy Hearts Youth Program. You can purchase them in our web store if you have a CSA, along with t-shirts, hoodies and Costa Rican-style vinegars from Francisco!! If you don’t have a CSA account, you can email to purchase them separately.

Still on SALE! Francisco’s Paradiso Raw Fresh Vinegars ONLY $11!

Francisco’s Paradiso Raw Fresh Vinegars! Made from all-natural ingredients from local fruit trees and farmers market produce, these delicious Costa Rican Vinegars come in Pineapple, Banana, Red Onion & Garlic and Sauerkraut! Only $11 each bottle!

Francisco and his amazing vinegars and other fermented items

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Statement of Support for Albany Bulb Residents

Food justice collective Phat Beets Produce stands in solidarity with Albany Bulb residents’ resistance to being displaced from the land they call home. We find the current residents of the Albany Bulb to be environmental stewards of the land and resources there and consider any removal of these residents as an affront to our natural rights to live in interdependence with land, free from the false choice of having to buy housing or live on the streets.

While seemingly a positive urban greening project, incorporation of Albany Bulb into the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park system — overseen by the East Bay Regional Park  District — only serves the interests of affluent Albany residents, as well as those invested in developments that will profit from proximity to a nearby green space. Development of areas where houseless people call home is a classic selective-investment strategy and displacement technique all-too-familiar in the Bay Area and world-wide. Similar to the process of gentrification sweeping through Oakland, such strategies see that groups and regions are catered to, accommodated and invested in depending on income-level and perceived political power. Investing in people and affordable housing, rather than waterfront parks, is a clear first step toward a solution with Bulb residents. But instead, in this case, greenwashing is used as a subtle, seemingly innocent guise for the project of development and displacement.

While park incorporation benefits Albany residents who will be able to access the park for recreation and dog-walking, it is detrimental to current residents who will be pushed out, left without shelter and eventually criminalized for being on the streets. We see this process consistent with the criminalization of poor people who are told that their survival is illegal, made more evident by police evictions and the no-camping ordinance imposed on residents of the Bulb. These methods of displacement are supported by local “environmental” groups such as Citizens for East Shore Park, who have been pushing for state park incorporation for years. The people are a part of the environment, never separate!

The City of Albany, while attempting to relocate residents of the Bulb, cannot guarantee anything in the way of higher quality and safer living situations than what Bulb residents have already created for themselves there. This perpetuates the problem of houselessness that the City of Albany has found no adequate solution for and undermines the self-determination of Bulb residents to address their own needs collectively. Displacing residents of the Bulb in order to create a park is inconsistent with principles of the public good, compassion and justice, all of which the City should be concerned with first and foremost. Instead, by developing Albany Bulb into a state park and displacing residents, we are seeing the next phase of displacement tactics: greenwashing.

Support Albany Bulb residents! End displacement through greenwashing!

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Sign-up for our “Building Community Safety text alert system here

Join our Community Safety and Action text alert: text Northoakland to 69302
Join our Anti-Displacement/Community Safety Listserve:  North Oakland Anti-Displacement Listserve
Last Friday of the month Peace and Justice Walk @6pm leaving from Bethany Baptist Church on 54th and Adeline
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Vendors speak out! A defense of Phat Beets (Gentrification isn’t a dirty word, but the ‘G word’ is!)

Phat Beets would like to address some of the confusion and misinformation surrounding our relationship with Grease Box, specifically regarding Grease Box’s entirely false allegations against Phat Beets, as well as this biased East Bay Express article written about the relationship between Phat Beets and Grease Box. We would also like to provide a platform for some of the voices of vendors who were displaced because of the sale of CrossRoads to Grease Box (make sure to read them in bold below!).

First of all, we are a social justice organization, not a for-profit business, and our mission is to connect small farmers of color to urban communities through the creation of free farm stands, clinic-based farmers markets, incubator farms and kitchens, and youth gardens. Unfortunately, Phat Beets is currently being displaced by both a new business, Grease Box, as well as the gentrification process itself that put Grease Box in a position to control and profit from what was once a community cafe. In order to understand the issue of gentrification, however, we also must first identify what a “North Oakland resident” is and what a “historic resident” is, which will clarify some of the differences between both parties and what these differences mean for North Oakland.

For example, there is a significant difference between moving to North Oakland just to be closer to other parts of the Bay for work or school, and living in North Oakland and having a long-term vested interest in the health and well being of this community; in this case, both are North Oakland residents. Historic residents, on the other hand, are folks who have lived in a given region their entire life, or most of it, sometimes with roots that date back generations. When these residents are forced out of their neighborhood due to rising housing costs because of new, more affluent residents and businesses moving in, that is gentrification. This is the current situation playing out at Phat Beets Farmers Market, where historic residents’ jobs and economic opportunities, including those of the farmers we support, are being compromised.

Just to be clear, many members of the Phat Beets Produce collective are not long-term residents of North Oakland, but we do spend a great deal of time and energy in organizing with and supporting the interests and leadership of North Oakland residents in building the just food system we all need. In fact, Phat Beets has to fundraise and grant write in order to both keep healthy, fresh and organic produce at our farmers market affordable to North Oakland residents, as well as fund the jobs of historic residents who staff the market itself. The food justice approach we take in working in North Oakland, and the approach of Grease Box, whose food costs don’t take into consideration historic residents, is night and day. Unfortunately, Grease Box isn’t the first such business that is symptomatic of a troubling gentrification pattern, which is why the North Oakland community can no longer afford to ignore it or merely refer to it as the ‘G word’.

Phat Beets Produce members! From left to right: Tony: neighborhood volunteer, Sirgout: farmers market vendor, Caroline: ally, Josh: CSA Coordinator, Crystal: ally, Toveo: Farmers Market Manager, Torro: Avalos Farms vendor, (back) Marika: CSA Distributor, Mickey, CSA staff, Amman: Community Fundraiser and volunteer, max: Program Coordinator

Ken Shandy, lifelong North Oakland resident, father, former CrossRoads community partner and owner of Brother’s Kitchen in West Oakland, sent us his thoughts about the Grease Box and what this business means for North Oakland:

I have lived in the North Oakland area all my life, [and] I would like to speak about 942 Stanford Ave and how the space has affected me and my community, and I had the pleasure of working with the CrossRoads cooperative & Phat Beets. I was excited to see a great synergy and team pulling together to create dreams for individuals in our local community. Unfortunately, due to a faulty leader with other motives not in line with the core group, our community is now forced to settle with the likes of the Grease Trap. I’m sorry but I had hoped to see more diversity in the space, with more of a community feel. Not just another gentrify hot spot. This is not in the best interest of our community. Changing the culture of a community without regards of what the people want and need. STOP IT!!!!!!

Just to provide a little context and history: contrary to the narrative of the East Bay Express article, CrossRoads was very successful in terms of community support. But for one of the lease holders Michele Lee — who deserves a lot of credit for getting the place started and operating —  the inability for CrossRoads to turn a profit immediately caused her to sell the community kitchen opportunity out from underneath vendors who had invested thousands of dollars to build community patronage over the long haul but weren’t producing revenue fast enough. It was an awful situation for everyone to be in, and Phat Beets was by no means perfect throughout these events. But we also carried our own weight by throwing a fundraiser with People’s Kitchen and donating half of the proceeds back to the CrossRoads Co-op and Lee, in addition to consistently paying for flyers and doing outreach for the cafe, building garden seating in back and much more. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough.

Phat Beets and several vendors also tried numerous times to buy the cafe and become leaseholder once Lee wanted to sell her share. However, Lee was only interested in selling her share of the cafe to the highest bidder — in this case Lizzy Boelter, owner of Grease Box — who then subsequently took complete control of the community kitchen that we had a previous agreement to use, making it impossible for us to operate our programming out of the space. Phat Beets was not included in any of the decision making of the space either (see: Grease Box painting the inside of the dining room white without our approval, for one). I suppose if you pay enough money, you can get whatever you want, regardless of who loses out in this process, and unfortunately Phat Beets and our vendors now have to deal with the aftermath of a business whose presence only serves to gentrify the neighborhood even more, even if unintentionally.

Furthermore, Lee did not inform CrossRoads Co-op (Phat Beets being a member of this Co-op) of the sale to Grease Box; Lee’s right to “sell” her share without approval from the rest of the Co-op is highly questionable, given the Co-operate structure; the specifics of Lee’s deal with Grease Box still have not been disclosed to CrossRoads Co-op members, so we still don’t know what rights Grease Box even has in the space; and finally, Lee and one other Co-op member are the only members to receive any money from the sale. Does any of this seem fair or equitable?

Lee, unfortunately, set the stage for a doomed relationship between Phat Beets and Grease Box from the beginning: as soon as Grease Box moved in, Lizzy demanded that the kitchen become gluten-free, despite the fact that Phat Beets’s vendors had been using gluten in the kitchen long before Grease Box arrived. Gluten is a part of many of Phat Beets’s vendors’ cultural food practices that date back centuries. Forcing people to give up an integral component of their cultural diet that financially supports their livelihood is a violation of food sovereignty and food justice.

We recognize the need to provide gluten-free options for people, but we feel there are ways we can do so without compromising the cultural practice of our vendors. Not allowing our vendors to use gluten undermined our Kitchen Incubator Program. This program helps low-income vendors start healthy food-related businesses in order to create their own jobs and build economic justice. The program is, despite the factually incorrect statement in the recent East Bay Express piece and on the Grease Box web site, fully permitted by the Alameda County Health Dept., and we are more than happy to provide permits upon request.

In addition to providing false information, we feel the East Bay Express article is complicit in constructing a biased narrative of the space that unfairly benefits Grease Box. Phat Beets’s representation in the article is one-sided and often grossly mischaracterized, including not even bothering to provide a photo of Phat Beets members to go along with the photo of Grease Box staff. Furthermore, why wasn’t the story of Misako Kashima, Ikumi Ogasawara and Machiko presented? Misako is a Japanese vendor and member of our Kitchen Incubator Program (Lizzy denies the fact that she is, however) who had been serving her delicious and healthy cuisine out of the space since the beginning of this year and has been denied permission to continue cooking her food since the appearance of Grease Box.

Grease Box even went so far as to say that “the vendors that were ‘displaced’ are doing just fine elsewhere.” So it’s fair to displace someone against their will if they end up doing fine elsewhere? That’s a very disturbing attitude to take into the North Oakland community. Unfortunately, this was never explored by the article, and any mention of Misako’s displacement from the kitchen she helped build out as an original CrossRoads member was conveniently left out, along with the narratives of countless other vendors pushed out by Lee and Grease Box (just visit the comments section of the East Bay Express article to read more testimonies from former vendors.) Leaving out the narratives of those who have been displaced evidences the gentrification process itself, as the stories of historic residents are erased by the prevalence of newer, more affluent and more visible residents with greater access to media.

Here’s what Misako has said in regards to no longer being able to cook in the cafe:

“We are waiting for working together with Phat Beets and other vendors again hopefully soon.  The Phat Beets Market was the only affordable Farmer’s market to join for start-up food entrepreneurs with not enough funds (ironically we spent all our hard earned money to invest to build the co-op kitchen).  The reality of food business is that if you don’t have enough money nor good support and connections, there is no chance even for the great cooks and workers.   There are too much costs (licensing, kitchen rental, insurance) for small businesses.  So small vendors need organizations like Phat Beets who can support and offer the Market place which we can sell to the public.”

Phat Beets spoke with another vendor, Naimah Matthews, and her family in this video account about what happened in their last few days as vendors at CrossRoads before Grease Box moved in. Days after Grease Box arrived, Matthews and her family were forced to pack up their stuff and leave. In their own words:

“For her [Lizzy] to tell anyone that everybody is fine is a blatant lie because you didn’t bother to check! …She didn’t care. We were told to immediately get our stuff [after the sale]…and the whole restaurant looked totally different. We had worked Saturday, we didn’t work Sunday, I went in Monday, and it was already…A lot of the stuff she sent me back to get wasn’t there!…It was like we weren’t important…How do you just sell something out from underneath us? Handling it the way they did, it hurt a lot of people…This was our dream!”

Unfortunately, in the case of Misako and Matthews, they aren’t “doing just fine elsewhere,” but we will continue to raise money in order to work with these vendors in our future kitchen, wherever that may be.

Furthermore, just to be clear, Phat Beets Produce has also never called for a boycott of Grease Box, though we do inform our supporters of the history of the space and the ongoing conflict. Lizzy has also told several Phat Beets members that “you are not allowed in the cafe anymore,” has called the police on Phat Beets members, and has threatened Phat Beets staff with restraining orders and slander law suits, making our own work space a hostile environment and forcing us to work from home. No one from Phat Beets has ever advocated for or used any sort of violence towards Lizzy or any of her staff.

We feel these lies have been created in an attempt to paint Phat Beets and its members as violent and threatening in order to justify our displacement so as to eventually take complete control over the cafe and kitchen. The Phat Beets collective, as well as our supporters, allies, and neighbors, however, will continue to speak out against these injustices. Not many folks want to talk about gentrification, which is why these injustices still fester and persist, hushed and squashed by irresponsible phrases like the ‘G word’ used in the EBE article that try to conceal the violence of displacement. This is precisely why Phat Beets highlights the injustices of gentrification taking place not only at the Phat Beets Farmers Market but in addition all over North Oakland by Better Homes and Gardens and their NOBE campaign.

Finally, we must remember that Phat Beets has no interest in fighting with the Grease Box. They are merely a distraction for the food justice work we do and an obstacle for the North Oakland community building self-determination and access to healthy food. We operate 6 programs — including a farmers market at Children’s Hospital, a free produce stand at Arlington Medical Clinic, a community garden that supports healthy activities for neighborhood youth, and a 15-acre Pinole Creek Farm Project in support of PUEBLO and the International Rescue Committee — all with very little resources, which is why we rely on the community’s grassroots support to continue. But now we are losing our home, and so we are asking for supporters that value food justice to work with us to build out our food justice vision, including helping us find a new home.

Support Healthy Food for All by supporting Phat Beets! We have been informed that our sublease will not be renewed by Grease Box and Lee, which means the North Oakland Farmers Market will be moving. Make a donation to help us a find a new space and continue this work in Oakland for as long as it takes.


~The Phat Beets Crew

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What's Changed At The Cafe?

As you may have noticed, the Crossroads Co-op Café and its vendors are no longer at 942 Stanford. A month ago, the new business, The Grease Box, began operating at 942 Stanford. We have also been notified that our sublease will not be renewed in January 2014.  Our vendors, farmers, and programming are being displaced. We oppose and dispute what has happened. We are not associated, nor do we partner, with Grease Box.

What happened to the vendors at the market?

The vendors at the market who we are missing – Misako, Ikumi, and Machiko –  were part of Phat Beets’ Kitchen Incubator Program. The goal of this program is to help low-resourced residents of the Oakland Flatlands start food businesses by providing access to a commercial kitchen, insurance, permits, etc. By connecting these small food entrepreneurs of color to the small farmers of color we work with, we hope to create an equitable food hub in North Oakland as well as economic self-sufficiency for Oakland residents. Future vendors and participants in the program have been put on hold due to not being able to access the kitchen for cooking, since the kitchen health permits were turned over to the Grease Box.

With the loss of their presence, the space has not only lost a great diversity of cuisine and culture, but a loss of economic opportunity for these great chefs, immigrants, and small food-entrepreneurs. In our eyes, the displacement of our vendors is part of the ongoing process of gentrification – where historic Oakland residents lose houses, jobs, and opportunities to newer, wealthier incoming residents with greater access to resources. Phat Beets has been clear about our position on gentrification, and we see this as a perfect example of how the struggle for food is linked to the struggle for justice.


How can I support the vendors and Phat Beets?

Phat Beets is a small community organization that puts Food Justice first. In order to prioritize our programming and the continuation of our work for small farmers and the North Oakland community, we are asking for support from our community in the following ways.

1.  Talk. to your neighbors and our vendors. Ask questions! Let our vendors and farmers know you support them.

2.  Spaces. We are currently looking for other spaces in the neighborhood to move our programs to – a commercial kitchen with potentially a cafe/restaurant, office and farmers' market space.  If you know of anything please email us at!

3. Funding. We will also need funds and support to make this move in the next months. Donate your time and/or make a financial contribution to our work at

Please stay tuned as we go through this difficult period, and thanks so much for your continued support!

In Love and Struggle,

The Phat Beets Crew

From Misako, one of our Japanese food vendors:

“We are waiting for working together with Phat Beets and other vendors again hopefully soon.  The Phat Beets Market was the only affordable Farmer's market to join for start-up food entrepreneurs with not enough funds (ironically we spent all our hard earned money to invest to build the co-op kitchen).  The reality of food business is that if you don't have enough money nor good support and connections, there is no chance even for the great cooks and workers.   There are too much costs (licensing, kitchen rental, insurance) for small businesses.  So small vendors need organizations like Phat Beets who can support and offer the Market place which we can sell to the public.”

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"More than our mission statements": what the Trayvon verdict means for food justice

With the killing of unarmed 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and the subsequent “not guilty” verdict that absolved Zimmerman of any crime despite pursuing and confronting Martin before killing him while claiming self-defense, it is crucial that community-based organizations leave room for reflection and intersectional analysis regarding the ways that our work is impacted by issues of racial justice. Our mission statements should not pigeon-hole our organizing, nor should they tame our love of justice and radical indignation against racially motivated violence and the laws and mentalities that enable it. 

Since the Zimmerman verdict, one juror has come forward to explain that while she knew Zimmerman was guilty in her heart, the “Stand Your Ground” law didn't allow her to render a 'guilty' verdict, which leaves us no other conclusion but the fact that this particular law legalizes vigilante violence, but not just against anyone. In fact, a June 2012 study by the Tampa Bay Times found that in Florida, “defendants who cited the Stand Your Ground law were more likely to prevail when the victim was black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person walked away with no penalty, compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white victim.” Such laws should be put on blast and organized against for their racism and inhumanity, regardless of the particular issues we work on as individuals or organizations.

As a food justice organization, Phat Beets Produce does not only work to support small farmers and farmers of color to ensure that all people, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to culturally relevant, fresh and affordable healthy food. In addition, we also work to critique the institutionally racist policies that have led to the lack of access to healthy food in historically low-income communities of color in the first place, specifically North Oakland. For example, with the migration of blacks to urban areas like Oakland for jobs prior to and during World War II, city and federal government subsequently subsidized freeway construction and suburban home ownership for whites. This reallocation of public funds and private capital toward suburbs left the urban core without the resources and institutions it needed to flourish, including but not limited to grocery stores. This disinvestment then created the conditions for new investment in the form of gentrification, a process of displacement we see unfolding before our eyes in North Oakland.

Similarly, we see the legal justice denied to our young, black brother in Trayvon as consistent with the racialized processes outlined above. But it is precisely this reason that racial justice must be foregrounded in our movements, as food justice and racial justice are one fist, raised high by our convictions for collective liberation. And while Phat Beets may not work directly to change a criminal 'justice' system that adopts unjust laws such as “Stand Your Ground,” we stand in solidarity with organizations and efforts made in that direction and will continue aligning our values and principles with those who walk hand-in-hand with justice, liberation and love.

In solidarity,

Phat Beets Produce


Sign here to demand that the federal government open a Civil Rights case against George Zimmerman.

Sign the petition to Boycott Florida Produce to end the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. Post it on your facebook page and ask others to sign.

“No justice, no juice,” by LaDonna Redmond:

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"Food Fight" by Earth Amplified

Check out AshEL Eldridge aka Seasunz — of SOS Juice and advisory board member of Phat Beets Produce — in the new video “Food Fight,” produced by Earth Amplified, featuring of Dead Prez. Phat Beets volunteer Manuel Ramirez also makes a cameo as Twizzlers Junkie!

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NOBE?? A great example of the forces of gentrification…

Phat Beets counter-video to NOBE

Original NOBE Video Below

Want to read more about this? See our thoughts on NOBE covered in Oakland Local here

Thanks to all that signed our petition.  We took it down as Ms. Edwards complied with our wishes!

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CrossRoads Co-Op Cafe: A Green-Collar Community Venture

The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative is helping to make food justice a reality for North Oakland. Along with serving delicious, community-based, and just food, the worker-owned cooperative ensures that its members—all of whom live in the neighborhood—will share in the cafe's governance and economic prosperity. The Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3)is assisting the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative in realizing this vision.

Getting Started
The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative has grown out of a community of food justice enthusiasts brought together by Phat Beets Produce, an organization that provides accessible, healthy, and local food to North Oakland. Every Saturday, several of the founding members of the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative attended the Phat Beets farmers' market. Along with their shared interest in food justice for North Oakland, these founding members soon realized other similarities: they were all residents of 57th Street, and they were all either underemployed or unemployed because of the economic crisis. And they all wanted to take more control over their workplace and their destinies by creating a worker-owned cooperative.

As these connections between the founding members grew, a space became available at 942 Stanford Avenue. A structure that once served as train dispatch in the 1920s, and later a small restaurant in the 1970s, was available for rent. Recognizing that the structure could serve as acooperative community space, the founding members seized the opportunity, and started building support for the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative. More people joined the effort, and a core group of founding members emerged.

Making Progress
The Crossroads team evolved organically, with each founding member taking on work that best suited his or her interests and skills. From implementing the build-out process, to managing kitchen operations, to bottom-lining administrative needs, members of the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative facilitated the transformation of 942 Stanford Avenue over the past year. 

Throughout this effort, the team collaborated with GC3 for legal assistance. Some of the founding members attended last year’s Think Outside the Boss Workshop, and received legal guidance through a one-time follow-up consultation. The founding members soon entered GC3’s cooperative incubator program, through which GC3 continues to provide longer-term legal support to the Cooperative as it develops into afully-functioning, worker-owned, community cafe.

The Crossroads team also partnered with other community organizations to build the cafe and cooperative, including PUEBLO in Oakland. Youth from PUEBLO were critical to the renovation, and helped construct the cafe’s countertop.

Envisioning the Future
Soon, the Crossroads Cafe will be a fully functioning cafe, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the North Oakland community. But the space will be more than that. The founding members see 942 Stanford Avenue as a community space, where people can come to share inwholesome food, teach and learn about issues affecting the community, and access commercial kitchen space, which will be available for rent to community-based food businesses. The Phat Beets Farmers’ Market will continue to take place every Saturday at 942 Stanford Avenue.

Pitching In
Although the Crossroads Cafe Cooperative made incredible progress over the past year, the team has two major steps to take before the cafe fully launches. First, the team is working to complete the build-out process, which poses unique challenges because of the building’s age. Second, the cafe must receive permits before opening to the public.

Although each founding member has contributed substantially toward the construction and permitting efforts, they need more help. This is where you come in!

The team created an Indiegogo campaign, which will end on November 14th. The campaign will help the Crossroads team purchase the remaining appliances it needs to become eligible for permitting. If you want to support the Cooperative at this critical juncture in its development, be sure to click here to check it out.

And, if you feel like heading to an awesome party with a great cause this weekend, join the Crossroads team for its Old Skool ThrowBack Partyon Saturday, November 10, from 8pm to 2am, at ABCo Artspace (3135 Filbert St., Oakland).

Summing Up 
The Crossroads Cafe Cooperative exemplifies GC3’s vision: to advance community resiliency by inspiring, informing, and incubating cooperative ventures. From attending a free legal workshop, to getting a legal  consultation, to becoming an incubator client, the Crossroads team took part in every facet of GC3’s legal services program. We’re humbled by the opportunity to support the transformative work of the Crossroads  Cafe Cooperative.

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