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on May 1, 2006 at 3:21:24 pm

Oakland Food System Assessment


Mayor's Office of Sustainability

Oakland, California

What is the Oakland Food System Assessment?

In June 2005, Mayor Jerry Brown’s Office of Sustainability initiated this study in order to begin a process of evaluating each element of the food system in Oakland, and to provide key baseline information on the various activities that represent it. On January 10, 2006, the Oakland City Council, Life Enrichment Committee unanimously passed a resolution that authorizes:


...the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to develop an Oakland Food Policy and Plan for thirty percent local area food production, by undertaking an initial food system assessment study, conducted by a research team from the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California at Berkeley, at no cost to the City.


This baseline analysis is therefore intended to initiate discussion among City policymakers, staff, and community members to consider the impact that the City’s food system might have on different areas of public concern. It also begins to assess the potential for increasing the consumption of local foods among Oakland residents. This includes exploring how systems of production, distribution, processing, consumption, and waste, as well as city planning and policymaking could support the objective of having at least 30 percent of the City's food needs sourced from within the City and immediate region.


Five proposed goals guided this study:


Goal 1: Food Security

Ensure that no Oakland resident experiences hunger. Ensure that access to safe and nutritious food is not limited by economic status, location, or other factors beyond residents’ control.


Goal 2: Urban Agriculture and Waste Reduction

Maximize Oakland’s self reliance and capacity to grow and provide healthy local food for its citizens through community and rooftop gardens, farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture, and other urban agricultural activities; and simultaneously promote a “closed-loop” system that makes use of food waste recovery while reducing energy use.


Goal 3: Economic Development

Promote and revitalize economic development opportunities in the food sector that create jobs and recirculate financial capital within the community. Encourage marketing and processing practices that create more direct links between local producers and consumers.


Goal 4: Agricultural Preservation

Support the preservation of the region’s foodshed by encouraging consumption of regionally grown food that uses less chemical and energy-intensive production practices and emphasizes local inputs. Support Smart Growth policies that direct growth away from prime agricultural land.


Goal 5: Public Education and Capacity Building

Increase public “food literacy” and build capacity within communities to make food-related choices that positively influence public health and long-term sustainability.





About the Researchers


The study was conducted by Serena Unger and Heather Wooten, both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley and candidates for their Masters of City Planning (May 2006). The framework and study were initiated by Ms. Unger in June 2005, and in September 2005 Ms. Wooten joined as a contributing researcher and author. While both contributed equally to the research and writing of the study, Ms. Unger was the principle author of Chapter 2, “Production,” and part two of Chapter 4, “Consumption – Food Security,” and Ms. Wooten was the principle author for Chapter 3, “Distribution and Processing,” Chapter 4, “Consumption –Retail,” and Chapter 5, “Waste.” Both the “Introduction” and the final chapter, “Recommendations,” were authored by both Ms. Unger and Ms. Wooten. A collaborative process between both Ms. Unger and Ms. Wooten was fundamental to the form and content of each chapter, with this exchange being an invaluable generative and critique process. Together, Ms. Unger and Ms. Wooten donated a combined total of approximately 725 hours of work for this assessment.


Oakland Food System Assessment - DRAFT


Please find downloadable draft .pdfs of the current document here:




(Adobe Acrobat Reader is required)


For more information or to make comments, please contact authors and investigators:


Serena Unger, serena_unger@berkeley.edu


Heather Wooten, heatherwooten@berkeley.edu

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