Monthly Archives: June 2015

Groceries as Communities for Change

Photo: Kathy Geissler Best / SF

[via SF Gate]

One year after Occupy Oakland, we find that what seemed to have so much potential produced little to resolve our communities’ social and economic problems. Yet the Occupy Wall Street movement did illuminate a very important and growing sentiment: People want to have a meaningful role in creating greater social equality and economic resiliency in their communities.

What’s needed now is to connect that public sentiment with initiatives to create a long-term and sustainable plan that allows concerned citizens to take action beyond protest, and with the resources they have.

We are businessmen, but we are not Wall Street. We’re grocers. Our expertise is in providing good food to people, but we do much more than just stock and sell food. The essence of our work is to build community and provide an anchor for thriving neighborhoods.

 How? We incorporate into our daily work tested models and solutions for some of the most significant problems that our communities face. And we do it in partnership with our communities, enabling customers to play an active role.

Why is a grocery the locus for change? Because the need for food, when ignored, becomes a conflagration of other concerns, starting with health problems and ending in economic instability and violence. The very fabric of communities falls apart when the dinner table doesn’t anchor our families.

When Sam Mogannam took over Bi-Rite Market in the San Francisco’s Mission District in 1997, the neighborhood was a haven for drug dealers and pimps. His response: He took bars off the windows. Next, he replaced the processed and junk foods on his shelves with fresh and high-quality foods. People told him he was crazy. Today, Bi-Rite is touted as a national model for how neighborhood grocery stores can help transform communities.

What Bi-Rite offered was a way for the community to rebuild itself. And people responded. When Mogannam took over, that block of 18th street had less than 40 jobs; it now has more than 400.

Ahmadi is working on a start-up grocery business, called People’s Community Market, in the lower-income neighborhood of West Oakland that faces many of the same challenges seen in the Mission District 20 years ago. Although it has yet to open its doors to the public, People’s Community Market is using a local solution for citizen action – a grassroots community investment campaign. The campaign enables people of all economic backgrounds – including the 99 percent – to actively participate in their local economies by becoming shareholders in this business. This is not a donation. This is real investment, creating community ownership, in a business whose primary purpose is to make a positive impact on the well-being of the community, and bring its shareholders a modest return.

The project is an outgrowth of 10 years of community work by the People’s Grocery.

Our efforts offer a way for community members a way to engage, beyond protesting, in building concrete, local and sustainable solutions to social and economic problems. Annually, West Oakland residents spend $58 million on grocery purchases. Nearly 70 percent of that is spent outside the community, and thus is a lost opportunity to build strength from within.

 The time for protest has passed. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Let’s build the world we want – together. Business can be part of the solution.

Brahm Ahmadi is the founder and CEO of the new West Oakland business, People’s Community Market. Sam Mogannam plans to open his second market in San Francisco next year.

Organic Food Products To Be Tested For Residues Starting In 2013

by: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

In order to make sure that farmers are not using banned pesticides or genetically-modified organisms, organic food will be forced to undergo periodic residue testing starting in 2013, USDA officials have announced.

The agency first implemented regulations governing organic food production 10 years ago, and since then, only a select few private and accredited firms have been responsible for testing the farms that grow such produce, according to Bill Tomson of the Wall Street Journal.

The reason, he says, is that current USDA regulations offer “little guidance” regarding testing procedures — specifically, the reasons behind such examinations and the scheduling of them.
All organic food processors must undergo an initial inspection in order to become certified as organic food producers, Tomson explains, but there are regulations on the books requiring farms to be re-evaluated on a regular basis.

“The USDA said it is mandating that agents test annually a minimum of 5% of the farms or production facilities they are contracted to monitor,” the Wall Street Journal reporter wrote. “That is enough testing, the USDA said, to discourage use of prohibited substances without raising costs to the organic industry that has to pay for the testing.”

Currently, there are less than 100 accredited agents allowed to complete residue tests on the approximately 30,000 organic food producers across the globe that currently market their ware in the US, Tomson said.

The USDA will reportedly allow those agents to determine the 5% of the farms that will be tested each year, as mandating which facilities are tested would increase costs.

“The USDA said the new testing requirements will protect the integrity of the organic food industry. Periodic residue testing, it said, will discourage the mislabeling of organic food that consumers buy in supermarkets,” he wrote on Friday.

Tomson added that it was “an audit performed by the USDA’s inspector general that the USDA said prompted its decision to mandate periodic testing. Auditors interviewed four of the agents that monitor organic food producers in the U.S. and found that none of the agents were conducting periodic testing.”

[source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online]

10 Green Ideas For Earth Day

Got big plans for Earth Day? It’s right around the corner, April 22, but feel free to celebrate all week long with these 10 great ideas for teaching kids about Earth Day and what they can do to help take care of our planet.

1. Serve up eco-snacks.
Mix up some trail mix (with raisins, sunflowers, peanuts, almonds, chocolate chips) assemble one of these cute flower-power veggie trays, or whip up a batch of these yummy Earth Day bars. Celebrating the global nature of the ingredients (raisins from California, chocolate from Africa, coconut from the Philippines) is a cute idea, but it’s still a good idea to look for locally sourced ingredients whenever possible!

2. Make a nature craft. Try your hand at one of these cute nature craft ideas, or get creative and come up with your own eco-masterpieces. 

3. Host an Earth Day 5K (or 1K). This may seem like a big endeavor for Earth Day, but don’t let it scare you. Even if you don’t decide to do a big community-wide event, you can still challenge your friends and neighbors to a run or walk in honor of Earth Day. It’s the perfect way to get out and enjoy the planet and the day.

4. Take a walk. If an organized walk or run is too intimidating, you can still get outdoors for a walk around the block or local park with your own family. Check out these tips for exploring the outdoors with your kids.

5. Pick up a great green read. “The Lorax,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Seeds of Change,” “The Giving Tree,” “An Inconvenient Truth.” There are so many great green reads to choose from. Check out MNN’s book posts to find an old favorite or a new one to read in honor of Earth Day.

6. Plant a garden.
Grab the kids, a shovel, and some seeds and hit the dirt with your family. Whether you plant one tomato plant in a pot or a large garden of fruits and veggies, gardening with your kids wil teach them about the cycles of nature and the beauty of growing your own food.

7. Watch an eco-flick. Snuggle up on the sofa with your kids and your favorite brand of organic popcorn to watch one of these family friendly eco-movies. In the mood for a sobering documentary? Try a classic like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” or a newer film like “Lunch Line,” “Waiting For Superman,” “The Cove” or “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”

8. Host an eco-swap. What better way to get rid of your old stuff than to give it to friends who will find another use for it? Gather up your friends and neighbors for a good old community swap where everybody brings a bag or two of stuff (clothes, toys, you name it,) and then goes home with a bag or two of newish items in exchange.

9. Recycle. Recycling is a great way for kids to get involved in taking care of the planet. Talk to your kids about the items that wind up in the recycling bin and how they can be recycled into new products. Or you can also check out some of the recycling opportunities available from groups like TerraCycle where you can earn money for your school or community organization by collecting items like candy wrappers or juice pouches so that they can be remade into cool new stuff.

10. Bring it home.
Earth Day is the perfect day to talk to your kids about the green steps you take around the house to protect the planet and how they can help. Turning off lights and faucets, recycling, keeping the heat and air down low, and cleaning green are great ways to teach your kids about your family’s impact on the planet, and the steps that you can all take to minimize it.

[via Mother Nature Network]

16 Superb Health Benefits of Cucumber

Pick a handful of firm, dark green cucumbers and pop them into your shopping basket.

Congratulations! You have just bought yourself a fruit (yes, the cool cuke is fruit, not a vegetable) full of good health!

Here is a short list of the impressive health benefits that a cucumber carries:

  • Keeps you hydrated. If you are too busy to drink enough water, munch on the cool cucumber, which is 96 percent water. It will cheerfully compensate!
  • Fights heat, both inside and out. Eat cucumber, and your body gets relief from heartburn. Apply cucumber on your skin, and you get relief from sunburn.
  • Flushes out toxins. All that water in cucumber acts as a virtual broom, sweeping waste products out of your system. With regular use, cucumber is known to dissolve kidney stones.
  • Lavishes you with vitamins. A B and C, which boost immunity, give you energy, and keep you radiant. Give it more power by juicing cucumber with carrot and spinach.
  • Supplies skin-friendly minerals: magnesium, potassium, silicon. That’s why cucumber-based treatments abound in spas.
  • Aids in weight loss. Enjoy cucumbers in your salads and soups. My favorite snack? Crunchy cucumber sticks with creamy low-fat yogurt dip.
  • Revives the eyes. Placing chilled slices of cucumber on the eyes is a clichéd beauty visual, but it really helps reduce under-eye bags and puffiness.
  • Cuts cancer. Cut down your risk of several cancers by including cucumber in your diet. Several studies show its cancer-fighting potential.
  • Stabilizes blood pressure. Patients of blood pressure, both high and low, often find that eating cucumber brings relief.
  • Refreshes the mouth. Cucumber juice refreshes and heals diseased gums, leaving your mouth smelling good.
  • Helps digestion. Chewing cucumber gives the jaws a good workout, and the fiber in it is great for digestion.
  • Smooths hair and nails. Silica, the wonder mineral in cucumber makes your hair and nails stronger and shinier.
  • Soothes muscle and joint pain. All those vitamins and minerals in cucumber make it a powerful enemy of muscle and joint pain.
  • Keeps kidneys in shape. Cucumber lowers uric acid levels in your system, keeping the kidneys happy.
  • Good for diabetics. Patients of diabetes can enjoy cucumber while also reaping its health benefits: cucumber contains a hormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin.
  • Reduces cholesterol. A compound called sterols in cucumber helps reduce bad cholesterol.
[via Care2]

The Benefits of Facial Aesthetic Clinics

If you love your life but hate the way you look, a visit to a facial ascetic clinic could help you look better and feel better. When you leave the facial ascetic clinic, you will have smoother skin and a new outlook on life. Whether you go once a year or once a week, there is something rejuvenating about spending time on yourself.

If you want to improve the way you look and enjoy a host of other benefits, you will want to see out one of Atlanta’s best facial aesthetic clinics. They specialize in serving the needs of their clients, understanding the treatments that will be best for them and making sure they are pampered during their visit.

When you visit a facial aesthetic clinic, you will enjoy a number of important benefits. Some of these benefits are purely emotional, while others are physical and even medical in nature. Here are a few of the many benefits you can enjoy when you visit your favorite facial aesthetic clinic.

Relaxation and Enjoyment

Sometimes you just want to pamper yourself and enjoy a relaxing day at the spa. Whether you book a massage, get a facial or enjoy the full spa treatment, you will have fun.

A trip to the facial aesthetic clinic is the perfect way for you to relax and unwind with your friends. Whether you are decompressing from a hard day at work or just kicking back and relaxing, a trip to the facial aesthetic clinic is the way to go.

Reduced Stress

Stress and anxiety are serious problems in the modern world, but you can fight back with a trip to the facial aesthetic clinic. A trip to the clinic will make you feel indulged and pampered.

You will feel the stresses of the day melt away as you sit back, relax and enjoy a wonderful facial. When you leave, you will look younger and feel rejuvenated and ready to take on your busy day.

Improved Self-Esteem

Looking better means feeling better. There is a real link between our physical appearance and how we perceive ourselves, and a trip to the facial aesthetic clinic can work wonders on your mind, body and spirit.

When you enjoy a wonderful facial and tighten your skin, you will be surprised at how much younger you will look. By the time you leave, you will feel better, not only about your appearance but about your life as well.

More Job Success

It may not be fair, but studies have shown that more attractive men and women tend to do better in the workplace. The attractive among us enjoy more frequent raises and promotions, better job reviews and a host of other benefits. When you visit your local facial aesthetic clinic, you will improve your appearance, and that can be good for your career.

As you can see, there are a host of benefits to be had at your local facial aesthetic clinic. Whether you stop by for a quick massage on your lunch hour or indulge in a full spa package, you will leave rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to take on the world.