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The agri-food system is a giant part of our economy. It is so interwoven in our daily lives that you might just meet a seed supplier, farmer, rancher, grocer, baker (or even the trucker that moves the goods from place to place) that helped put a meal on your table and didn’t even know it! One of the main things OHH Farmgirl wishes to achieve is to inspire more women to work in agriculture and start their own agribusiness. We couldn’t think of any other organization out there that does a better job (at helping women of color, the youth and their entire community) than Phat Beets Produce in the Bay Area, California.

To an outsider, Phat Beets Produce looks like your typical CSA. But they are so much more. They call themselves a ‘food justice collective’ that started in 2007 in the North Oakland area. Without any authorization, they began a produce stand in the park and it grew from there with the help of like-minded neighbors/volunteers. They now support two certified markets: they have a youth/school farm stand in a community hub, and a youth market garden for a local hospital obesity prevention program. And yes, they do run a CSA providing buyers with a “Beet Box” full of organic food from Bay Area farmers, some with just a plot of land.

There is a real emphasis on supporting youth leadership, small-scale farmers, and farmers of color. Phat Beets aims to close the gap between urban communities and free access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food. They organize community workshops on healthy food and food justice. And they’ve been able to get local businesses involved through their partner program. In fact, there is so much that Phat Beets is involved in that we cannot list all of it here!

We talked to Trishia, a volunteer and spokesperson for Phat Beets Produce, about who they are and what they’ve been up to…

What is Phat Beets Produce?

Phat beets is a collective that is working on food justice at the intersection of racial economics and transformitive justice.

Where exactly are you located in North Oakland?

We have a lot of different sites that we work from. Our office is based in the Omni, which is a building that a lot of community groups are using. And we have edible parks and gardens, we (work out of) Driver Plaza where Auntie Frances serves (free) meals, Phat Beets and The North Oakland Restorative Justice Council are partnering to reclaim land and plant fruit trees, we have a plot at Castlemont High School (around 1 acre shared with other groups) and we have youth working there (and the food from there) gets included in our CSA boxes.

What is your latest achievement?

The thing we really want get the word out to people about is that we are (now) offering free home delivery for our EBT CSA members, anywhere in Berkely and Oakland. All of our CSA produce is grown by farmers of color specifically local to the Bay Area. We really want to focus on what sets us apart from other CSA’s that may not even source from the Bay Area, all of the proceeds from our CSA are reinvested into types of community building and the work that we do. (They also want to stress the need for different neighborhoods becoming involved to make fresh organic and local produce more accessibility.)

How important is a woman’s role in your organization?

We definitely want to have women in leadership roles. There are a number of women that run the different programs. We have a program called the Kitchen Incubator and that’s specifically to empower women of color to start their own catering business. So they’re able to use kitchen space…we help sort paperwork, and we also link them up with catering gigs. There are a lot of different women involved in Phat Beets and a lot of different roles they play.

Learn more about Phat Beets Produce and how to contact:
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Mind Over Matter: Your Beliefs and Your Appearance

The law of attraction has become a popular topic in books, films and journalism as well as amongst “alternative” thinkers. It’s fashionable nowadays to say that we draw all of our life experiences to us energetically, and that our energy is created through the focus of our thoughts. What is not so often pointed out, however, is that this “law” applies even to something as intimate as our bodily image, our physical appearance.

If we constantly influence our external environment with our thoughts and feelings, then clearly the closest (to us) portion of that environment is our own physical form. It is no accident that we may appear youthful or aged, sexy or unattractive, slim or voluptuous in the eyes of others. The effect that your appearance has upon a beholder is not the mere chance result of the way your features formed in accord with some strictly biological design.

Your image is the reflection of your thoughts and feelings about yourself, your worth as a person, your relationship to others, your place in the world and many other considerations. You could think of your physical body as a kind of statement that you’re making to everyone with whom you may come into contact.

Your beliefs about yourself mold your appearance as surely as they create every other aspect of your life. Some schools of alternative or New Age thought might suggest that you adopt very simple methods for changing aspects of yourself that you feel unsatisfied with: Just think good thoughts, or repeat positive affirmations and things will change. But if you explore your personal reality more deeply, you may find that you have strong underlying reasons for wanting to look the way you do.

Maybe you feel that you’re not a good, worthy person and therefore you shouldn’t look attractive. Maybe you fear drawing “the wrong kind of attention”. Maybe you believe there is something unhealthy about being thin. There are countless inner reasons why we choose to appear the way we do before the eyes of the world. Discovering what your reasons are will require some personal exploration. This is a journey that goes a lot smoother if we truly believe that all the answers to our lives do lie within us. Taking personal responsibility for the reality that you have created for yourself will open up the doors to new, unforeseen possibilities. You will see that the road you chose is but one of many roads that are available.

The effect that our appearance has on others is determined by inner qualities that we may or may not be aware of. If we want to change the way we look, the way that others perceive us, we have to become conscious of our real beliefs about ourselves. Diets and exercises will produce temporary results at best if we don’t first change the way we think about ourselves. Our thoughts always materialize in the world, whether it’s in the form of the relationships we draw to ourselves or in the reflection that we see when we look into the mirror.

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