What do you do if you find yourself in the middle of an urban healthy-food desert? Look for an oasis. Fortunately, an oasis has just appeared in West Oakland in the form of a worker-owned grocery store with a focus on healthy, organic, local food and community.
Mandela Foods Cooperative finally opened its doors on Saturday and I wanted to be there to help celebrate. A project that has been many years in the making, Mandela is one of the few places in West Oakland where residents can find fresh, healthy food.
Located on 7th Street across from West Oakland Bart, Mandela Foods Cooperative is worker-owned and sells healthy foods such as bulk cereals, dried fruit, and nuts and only organic produce.
Its beef and lamb are grass fed, antibiotic free, and sourced from local family farms. The chicken is free range, vegetarian fed, and raised without hormones.
Mandela is also working with Planting Justice, an urban agriculture/food justice project founded by my friends Gavin Raders and Haleh Zandi, who donated starter vegetable plants. Later in the season, they will have fresh produce available.
I went early Saturday morning to catch the grand opening. Prior to the cutting of the ribbon by one of the worker-owners, a blessing was given by an imam/minister who invoked the spirit of the Creator and the community to sustain the food collective and referred to Adam as the original gardener. Councilwoman Nancy Nadel of district #3 was also there to support the store opening.
What an exciting event and resource for the residents of West Oakland! I will be supporting Mandela whenever I am in that neck of the woods, er, I mean city.