Senate Passes Homemade Food Bill on Big Tech's Terms

Own Our Food Coalition Stands for Community Ownership and Control of the Food System, Warns of Imminent Uberization of Food

Slide35.JPGOAKLAND, CA (August 29, 2018)  Yesterday the California Senate passed AB 626, a bill designed to uberize California’s homemade food sector. The bill has been backed by gig economy tech companies including Airbnb, Josephine, and DishDivvy. A coalition of community based organizations in the food movement and small food enterprises lobbied against the bill, proposing an alternative policy for expanding opportunities for home cooks in California while protecting them from the exploitation of Big Tech.

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Guess Who's Coming for Dinner

Gig Economy Workers Barely Getting ByHave you noticed how many tech start-ups are interested in food these days? We have. There are dozens of apps that deliver food right to your door (either by a human being or sometimes even by a robot) and you can order take-out, groceries, or partially prepared meals with a few taps on your phone.

At the Sustainable Economies Law Center, we support creativity and innovation in many ways, one of which is to uplift homemade food enterprises. So, it wasn’t easy to come to our decision to not support AB 626. AB 626 is a bill that was drafted at the behest of tech company executives and lobbyists to prioritize their interests above the interests of home cooks and consumers. After being stalled for several months, the bill passed a vote of the full Assembly in January and will soon be up for a vote in the Senate Health Committee.

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The Future of Homemade Food is at Risk

By Christina Oatfield, Policy Director //

Have you noticed how many tech start-ups are interested in food these days? We have. There are now dozens of apps you can use to order food to be delivered to your door -- either by a human being or sometimes even by a robot. You can order take-out, groceries, or partially prepared meals through apps. And, as we’ve previously written about on our Food News Blog, there are now on-demand pick-up and delivery apps for homemade food. We are worried about what this means for home cooks, eaters, and the broader food system.

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CA Farmer Equity Act Signed Into Law

Sacramento, California – Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would require California officials to focus on and address the challenges facing farmers of color in the state by making access to state and federal resources more equitable. This comes at a critical moment as the current generation of farmers is retiring and new farmers are increasingly represented by people of color, including immigrants and refugees.

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Can Community Capital Finance the Next Generation of Farmers?

By Christina Oatfield, Policy Director //

After the 2008 economic recession, banks were more conservative about lending and the general public was more aware of the flaws in our financial institutions and related regulations. Since then, small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits, investors, and ordinary folks with modest savings have shown growing interest in fundraising strategies such as crowdfunding, crowdinvesting, direct public offerings (DPOs), and community capital. These strategies all involve raising money from a large number of supporters, through donations or investment dollars from the business owner's friends and family, customers, and members of the broader community who wan8990215169_23df5741d9_q.jpgt the business to succeed. Community members who have a personal interest in or see the value of a local business are often  willing to take more risk or a more modest return on their investment than would a financial institution or investment professional who seek to maximize profits above all else. This is just one reason why beginning farmers might find community capital attractive.

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Make Soil, Make Laws: How the California Community Compost Coalition is shaping compost policy

By Sue Bennett, Sustainable Economies Law Center staff member //

Last year, the Sustainable Economies Law Center brought together a group of five community composters from around California in a monthly phone call, creating a small, but powerful, California Community Compost Coalition. These amazing individuals are transforming the ways their communities manage food and yard waste, and they are helping California comply with a mandate to divert organic waste from landfills.  Yet, these compost entrepreneurs have been encountering many frustrating legal barriers, prompting them to take action at the city and state level. Already, they are demonstrating that – even without policy advocacy experience – people can shape law and policy when they get organized and speak up!

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Photo by Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self Reliance

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Racial Justice in the Farm Economy Needs Community Capital

By Neil Thapar, Food and Farmland Attorney //

Big Mesa Farm (credit: Piro Patton)
Photo Credit: Piro Patton

How can we secure food justice in the United States when 98% of all farmland is owned by White people? When Black farmers own less than 3 million acres of rural land today, compared to over 15 million acres just a century ago? When 180 million acres were stolen from Native communities in the 19th and 20th centuries? Developing a just food system requires (1) confronting the reality of racial disparity in farmland ownership and its negative impacts on wealth distribution, health outcomes, and cultural vitality, and (2) replacing the current reality with an equitable distribution of farmland that prioritizes communal stewardship, local control, and diversified ownership.

Successfully developing this future will rely on expanding access to capital for farmers of color beyond the conventional financing institutions that have, so far, failed to meet their needs.

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