New Composting Law: SB 1383

An ambitious new law aims to drastically reduce food waste and its resulting methane emissions statewide.
by Tobin McKee, Cooperation Humboldt & Full Cycle Composting

If you are a resident of Humboldt County and you put your food waste in the garbage, most of that garbage is currently transported 205 miles by truck to Dry Creek Landfill near Medford, Oregon. The truck then returns to Humboldt County, empty.

While it is absurdly inefficient to truck our food waste so far (and it makes more sense to integrate that precious carbon and nitrogen back into our local food web as rich, living compost), it turns out there is an even bigger problem – the methane gas that food waste produces as it rots in the landfill.

Right now, about 40% of Humboldt County’s waste dumped into the Dry Creek Landfill is made up of compostable organic material, which is producing huge amounts of methane. Landfills are the third largest source of methane in California, emitting 20% of the state’s methane, a potent greenhouse gas 84 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

The problem is so significant that in 2016 California lawmakers passed the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Reduction Law (SB 1383). It’s called “short-lived” because pollutants like methane don’t stay trapped in the atmosphere as long as CO2 – but while they’re up there, they do much more damage. The law aimed to reduce organic waste disposal by 50% by 2020 — which it did not achieve — and by 75% by 2025. It also aims to rescue at least 20% of currently disposed surplus edible food for people to eat by 2025. (Much of the food waste going into landfills is perfectly edible.)

While the statewide law became enforceable in January of 2022, McKinleyville, Arcata and Eureka have until 2024 – and the more rural parts of Humboldt County have until 2027 – to have their organics recycling programs in place. While there won’t be Compost Police deployed to enforce the new law, CalRecycle does have enforcement responsibility and can levy fines to jurisdictions not in compliance.

Humboldt County currently has no composting facility, and the astronomical cost of building one means that such a facility is years from happening. In the meantime, the new municipal systems that will be put into place locally are likely to look something like this:

  • Residential and commercial customers will put their food waste in compostable bags to be collected by Recology.
  • Food waste will be trucked 280 miles to a large-scale composting facility in Yolo County.
  • The trucks may return empty, or they may haul finished compost back to Humboldt County for reintegration.
  • Waste hauling fees will increase.
  • Customers who do their own composting or prefer to use a local composting service may have an opt-out choice so they don’t have to pay the additional fee to Recology.

Local Regenerative Solutions

While industrial-scale composting produces far less methane than decomposition in the landfill, local, zero-emissions, regenerative systems are by far the better choice.

If you don’t want your food waste to be hauled 280 miles away in diesel trucks owned by a statewide corporation, and then “composted” in a distant industrial facility that produces low-grade compost deficient in the complex microbial life that is the basis of the food web, and instead you value vibrant local soil and local businesses, here’s what you can do:

  • Produce Less Food Waste: Don’t let good food rot in your refrigerator. Regularly check what you’ve got, use it, and eat your leftovers. Write a shopping list so that you only buy what you need, when you need it. If you work in the food service industry, create new systems that decrease the amount of edible food that you discard.
  • Feed People and Animals: Before you put something in the compost bin, ask yourself, “Could a person or an animal eat this?” If the answer is “yes,” then give it to a person, or feed it to an animal. If you work in the food service industry, develop relationships with organizations like Food For People who will distribute your edible food to hungry people.
  • Recycle Fats and Oils: When possible, use services that render fats and oils for fuel and industrial uses.
  • Compost Locally: Backyard composting can be done simply and effectively, or you can use a local composting service.

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Tobin McKee (they/them) is a worker-owner at Full Cycle Compost and a Cooperative Business Developer at Worker Owned Humboldt in collaboration with Cooperation Humboldt and the North Coast Small Business Development Center.

Local Food Waste Reduction & Composting Resources

Zero Waste Humboldt specializes in providing waste reduction solutions through public education, advocacy, and technical assistance and training. Visit

Food for People works with local grocery, pharmacy and health food stores to divert edible foods that would otherwise go to waste.

Full Cycle Compost is a worker-owned, bicycle-powered composting service. Full Cycle Compost produces living, nutrient-rich compost and worm castings, and provides consulting services for individuals and organizations that want to make their own compost. Visit

The Certified Organics Recycler (COR) program offers businesses no-cost consultation and third-party certification for compliance with SB 1383. If your business generates food waste, visit

The Local Worm Guy offers residential curbside and business food-waste pickup service in Trinidad, Westhaven, McKinleyville, Fieldbrook, Blue Lake, Arcata, and Eureka. Visit

Home Composting 101

Your home composting setup can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. For a household with outdoor space, we recommend a simple upright bin with a locking lid. Lay 1/2” hardware cloth down underneath to prevent critters from invading your bin. Apartment dwellers might consider one of many styles of indoor composters, including but not limited to worm composters.

What should you put in your bin? You need to add materials that are rich in both nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen rich materials include food scraps (no meat, bones, or grease), grass, coffee grounds and seaweed. Carbon rich materials include paper, cardboard, dry leaves, sawdust, wood chips, aged hay/straw, egg cartons, paper towels, and tissues.
Each time you add kitchen scraps (or any other nitrogen rich materials) to your compost bin, add an equal or slightly greater volume of carbon rich material on top. (Covering those scraps with newspaper, sawdust, etc. will also help prevent fruit fly problems.)

Compost likes to stay moist, but not soggy. You want it to be about as wet as a damp kitchen sponge. This means that you will need to add water periodically.

You’ll get a faster conversion to usable compost if you turn your pile regularly.

Compost is finished and ready to use when it looks like dark, crumbly topsoil, it has a pleasant, earthy odor and the original organic materials are mostly no longer recognizable.

Local Meets Institutional

Cal Poly Humboldt prioritizes Local Food Vendors.
by Kimiko McNeill, Cooperation Humboldt

While many university dining programs are often filled with heavily processed foods that have traveled from thousands of miles away to support corporate chains like McDonald’s, Chipotle, Starbucks, and more – some universities across the country have begun to shift toward providing more nutritious, plant-based food options for students.

Along these lines, Humboldt Dining, Cal Poly Humboldt’s dining provider, stands in a place of leadership as it continues to bring more locally owned food vendors, local produce and locally crafted retail products onto the Cal Poly Humboldt campus. According to campus Executive Chef, Mariano Lalica, “While other universities have committed to buying more local produce and meats, Humboldt Dining is one of the only food service providers offering as many local food vendors as we do.”

It’s a refreshing change to enter Humboldt Dining’s different dining locations and see products from well-known local businesses. Lalica says that students are excited to see offerings on campus from local restaurants that they enjoy in the community.

In Cal Poly Humboldt’s J Dining Hall, 25% of the produce comes from local farmers and producers, including local dairy from Humboldt Creamery and produce from local farms including micro-farm Palmer Farms in Fortuna. The J-Grill, located inside the dining hall, features locally raised grass-fed beef.

The Depot features restaurants including Los Bagels, Wildflower Cafe, Hey Juan Burritos, Obento, Kinetic Koffee, and Wild Blue Sushi.

In College Creek Marketplace you can find local restaurant A Taste of Bim as well as many local retail products such as snacks from HumYum and Kind Jerky and tasty treats and pastries from The Grind Cafe.

Bigfoot Burgers proudly pours local Lost Coast Brewery beers and Humboldt Brewery ciders served alongside locally raised grass-fed beef burgers.

Humboldt Dining Catering, in addition to many locally sourced ingredients, features Trinity River Vineyards wines and Muddy Waters Coffee.

All across the Cal Poly Humboldt campus you can find local food options provided by local Humboldt County businesses.

What fueled Humboldt Dining’s shift to supporting more local businesses? James Richards, Resident District Manager, says, “It is simply the right thing to do. We need to support local businesses and it relates to one of our key dining philosophies: ‘Buy Local.’ It means less reliance on big chains, local foods just taste better, the food didn’t spend two days on a truck…if there is food growing around us, then that’s the food that we want to buy.”

There have been challenges with shifting to local vendors to supply the dining needs of so many students. The dining hall prepares thousands of meals per week, and this can make it difficult for produce to be sourced from a single farm or even multiple local farms. Humboldt Dining’s goal is to buy as much food as possible from within a 250 mile radius; however, half of that range falls in the Pacific Ocean, which makes it difficult to source enough fresh produce year-round.

Despite these limitations, the shift made by Humboldt Dining will have huge positive repercussions for the local community and can help fuel a shift that is necessary for the sustainability of our food systems.

Richards and Lalica are hopeful that other universities will find inspiration and learn from what Humboldt Dining at Cal Poly Humboldt has done to promote local purchasing. Richards would advise other institutions interested in expanding their local purchasing, “Go to the farmer’s market, go to local fairs, shop local, hit the small shops and build relationships. It’s more difficult and you have to be willing to work harder…but when you have the right team of people who have the same dream, it honestly feels less like work and more like you’re doing the right thing for everyone.”

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Kimiko McNeill (she/her) is a healer and caregiver working as an occupational therapist doing physical rehabilitation in an outpatient clinic. She also helps to anchor Cooperation Humboldt’s food team.

Large organizations with significant purchasing power wield immense power to strengthen local food systems. Here’s how.

There has been a national trend toward increasing food options grown and raised by small farmers and local food producers in institutions like universities, grade schools, and hospitals.

This indicates a shift in institutional priorities away from simply minimizing costs (at the expense of student and patient health) and toward realizing the immense positive impacts on public health and local economies that could be made possible through the purchasing policies of these large institutions.

In rural regions like the North Coast, there are always challenges to meeting the large demand that institutions like Cal Poly Humboldt have. This is one of the main goals of North Coast Growers’ Association’s (NCGA’s) food hub: to build up our inadequate local food infrastructure and create systems for the ordering, aggregation, and distribution of local food so that the high quality, local food our farmers produce can easily move from field to dining hall tray to fork.

The creation of a regional food hub is timely, and now more important than ever. With no entity or centralized system in place to empower large institutions to access more food from local farmers and food producers, our community is losing out on an amazing opportunity.

Bringing NCGA’s vision for a regional food hub to fruition will help redirect the large food budgets of institutions like Cal Poly Humboldt and many others away from food from outside of the region, and toward more healthful and ecologically friendly local options that support area farmers and small businesses.

The benefits of a local food hub are tremendous – improving community health, strengthening our local economy, building resilience, and giving the students, patients, and clients of our area’s large institutions the opportunity to connect more deeply to Humboldt’s community through the food they eat.

Building Climate Change Resiliency in Yurok Homelands: Fire & Food

Article written by Taylor Thompson (they/them, Cherokee), Food Sovereignty Program Manager, Yurok Tribe Environmental Department –

Article edited and artwork provided by Louisa McCovey (she/her, Yurok/Hupa/Karuk), Director, Yurok Tribe Environmental Department –

Yurok people have maintained balance in the world through environmental stewardship in their homeland along the lower Klamath River and Pacific Coast, including parts of both Del Norte and Humboldt counties since Noohl Hee-Kon (time immemorial). The Yurok Indian Reservation only contains a fraction of the tribe’s ancestral territory, encompassing approximately 55,890 acres of land one mile on each side of the lower 46 miles of the Klamath River from just above Weitchpec and the confluence of the Trinity River to the mouth of the river as flows into the Pacific Ocean near Requa. The coastal edge of Yurok Ancestral Territory spans from the Little River drainage basin at its southern border, including Trinidad and Orick, to Damnation Creek in the north and makes up approximately 7% of California’s coastline. The inland territory extends along the Klamath River through the Bluff Creek drainage basin, includes a portion of the Trinity River, and sections of the Redwood National and State Park and the Six Rivers National Forest.

Yurok People are known as great fishermen, eelers, hunters, basket weavers, canoe makers, storytellers, singers, dancers, healers, and medicine people. They have always relied on a multitude of subsistence food offerings from the Klamath River, Pacific Coast, and inland areas. Some examples include ney-puy (salmon), kaa-ka (sturgeon), kwor-ror (candlefish), pee-ee (mussels), chey-gel’ (seaweed), woo-mehl (acorns), puuek (deer), mey-weehl (elk), ley-chehl (berries), and wey-yok-seep (teas).

Among the many pressures on traditional food systems since the arrival of European Americans, global climate change is an ever-increasing threat and form of ongoing genocide and ecocide. The Yurok Tribe is disproportionately impacted by the effects of global climate change, with droughts and catastrophic wildfires increasing in frequency, duration, and areas impacted, rising water temperatures, and factors that encourage the proliferation of invasive species and subsistence species extinction. The Yurok Tribe has long prioritized mitigating the impacts of global climate change and has taken a multi-faceted approach towards climate resiliency.

In the years 2014-2018, the Yurok Tribe created the Yurok Tribe Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Water & Aquatic Resources to identify existing vulnerabilities and provide insight for future planning, including an Aquatic Harvest Calendar that illustrates the harvest times for several traditional foods sourced from the river and coast. The Yurok Tribe Environmental Department’s Food Sovereignty Program is building on the existing Aquatic Harvest Calendar to create a Traditional Foods Calendar that incorporates harvest times for land-based foods, such as tan oak acorns, tan oak mushrooms, huckleberries, hazelnuts and many others. The establishment of this baseline data will allow the Tribe to track the impacts of climate change on traditional food sources over time. It is anticipated that shifting harvest times will have a profound cultural impact throughout the community and cause disjointed food availability for humans and other species that rely on them.

An example of direct action that the Yurok Tribe is taking to combat the impacts of global climate change is its long-standing advocacy for the reintroduction of cultural and prescribed burns. Yurok people have managed the forests with cultural fires since Noohl Hee-Kon. The Yurok Tribe’s efforts to facilitate burns, in partnership with many other agencies such as the Cultural Fire Management Council, CalFire, the US Forest Service, and other tribes, combine Yurok traditional ecological knowledge and western science methodology to demonstrate the positive impacts that fire has in mitigating the impacts of global climate change and building climate resilience. The Yurok Tribe Environmental Department is conducting a study on a parcel within the Reservation to quantify the effect of fire on the amount of wildfire fuel present, the pervasiveness of invasive plant species, the quality and quantity of traditional foods, soil quality, and water quality before and after the implementation of a cultural burn.

For Yurok people restoring fire to the landscape is a crucial step toward returning to a place of balance in the world. Alone, fire will not reverse global climate change and its devastating impacts, but it will help protect the forests of Yurok ancestral territory, the species within it, and the Yurok way of life that relies on them. Planning for the future while acting now is the only way forward to restore ecological balance.

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Taylor Thompson (they/them; Cherokee) is the Food Sovereignty Program Manager of the Yurok Tribe Environmental Department.
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Photographer Louisa McCovey (she/her; Yurok/Hupa/Karuk) is the Director of the Yurok Tribe Environmental Department.

CSAs: Good for Growers, Good for Eaters

If you want to actively participate in our local food system, consider engaging with Community Supported Agriculture.
by Megan Kenney, North Coast Growers’ Association

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, which began in the 1960s, has gained momentum recently as we recognize its potential for remedying the problems inherent in our national and global food systems. The concept of a CSA is simple: pay now for food later.

According to the USDA, “Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.”

In the mid-1960s a Black horticulturist and professor at Tuskegee University, Booker T. Whatley, first introduced the concept of a CSA model to America. His “Clientele Membership Club” asked members to pay a fee during the winter to support the farm throughout the lean months in exchange for the privilege to pick their own food throughout the growing season. This transition away from a capitalistic approach to agriculture was simultaneously being explored by Teruo Ichiraku in Japan and in Germany by a group who formed the Gemeinnützige Landbau-Forschungsgesellschaft land trust. This land trust collected loans from community members for farmers, who would in turn repay that loan in food. Swiss biodynamic farmer, Jan Vander Tuin coined the phrase Community Supported Agriculture for this type of loan, which is the most common form of CSA offered today.

There are many benefits to joining a CSA:

  • Getting to know the farmers who grow your food,
  • Empowerment to eat more seasonally,
  • Opportunities to try new foods,
  • Spending less time shopping, and
  • Meaningfully engaging in a more sustainable local food system.

While it may be easy to head to the grocery store to buy tomatoes in the winter or Brussels sprouts in the summer, this shopping habit is not sustainable for our planet; besides the long journey that non-local food takes from farm to processor to distributor to store to you, many GMOs are employed to allow produce to withstand the long storage time needed to provide certain crops (like tomatoes and strawberries) year-round.

There are several models of CSA practiced locally:

  • Traditional CSA – pay in advance for weekly boxes throughout the summer (some farms also offer a limited selection during other seasons),
  • Free-choice CSA, – shop at a farmstand and choose what you need,
  • Multi-farm CSA – produce is aggregated from a variety of farmers,
  • There are even CSAs for meat, grains, flowers, and herbal products.

Some CSAs require payment in full at the start of the season, while others allow you to make payments over time. Some farms offer ‘half shares’ to provide an option for single folks and couples who may not use as much produce as a large family. Talk to your farmer about their EBT payment options.

For a complete list of local CSA options, including which programs accept EBT benefits, please see page 75.

EBT & Farmers’ Markets

Humboldt County is home to numerous microclimates, from warm and dry high deserts to cool and foggy coasts and all the river valleys and pasture lands in between. Our region generates a huge variety of locally grown and raised foods and plant starts that are sold at our farmers’ markets and which can be purchased using EBT.

The North Coast Growers’ Association (NCGA) operates 10 certified farmers’ markets throughout Humboldt County, so you’re never far from one of these markets. Humboldt’s first farmers’ market was opened in Arcata in 1978. Today, the Arcata Plaza Farmers’ Market is the longest continually operating certified farmers’ market in the state! Each of NCGA’s farmers’ markets accepts EBT and offers a Market Match.

EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is what the state of California calls its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly the food stamp program.

Market Match will double up to the first $10 in EBT spending at the farmers’ market.

How does it work?

EBT customers can visit any Market Info booth and ask the market manager to swipe their card for whatever amount they’d like to withdraw. They will receive that many EBT tokens to spend with vendors at the market PLUS up to $10 worth of additional Market Match tokens. All of these tokens can be spent on fresh fruits and veggies as well as plant starts for your garden. EBT specific tokens can also be spent on any other grocery item including meat, cheese, eggs, bread, hot sauce, honey, and more.

To see if you qualify for CalFresh, you can begin your application online at – it only takes about 10 minutes! Alternately, all staff at NCGA’s farmers’ markets are trained to assist with CalFresh applications. You can visit the Market Info booth at any market and staff can pre-screen you for eligibility and help start your application on site.
Visit for more information about EBT benefits and NCGA farmers’ markets.

Supply Chain Stress & Local Resilience

Our local food system provides creative solutions to keep our community fed in the face of national supply chain shortages.
by Megan Kenney, North Coast Growers’ Association

The past two years have brought a lot of cracks in our national food system to light, but each time a new issue surfaced, Humboldt County’s food producers and advocates answered.

When meat shelves were left empty in grocery stores, Humboldt’s meat producers stepped up to offer more locally raised meat (Crazy River Ranch even imported pigs from the Midwest who were scheduled to be euthanized due to the mass closures of meat processing facilities). When local governments closed farmers’ markets across the state, North Coast Growers’ Association (NCGA) created the Harvest Box program – a multi-farm CSA style produce box program – to allow customers to safely access local produce. And when it became clear that food response was not included in existing local emergency plans, the Department of Health and Human Services started weekly food security calls, Food for People created an entirely new position to plan for emergency food distribution needs, and the Humboldt Food Policy Council created an Emergency Food System Committee to bring together food focused organizations with the newly formed COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster).

The list goes on – Tribes have reinforced their food response programming with a lens focused on food sovereignty; institutions like Cal Poly Humboldt and the Humboldt County Office of Education are redirecting their purchasing power to increase the amount of local food they offer their students; Humboldt organizations have teamed up with those from Sonoma, Mendocino, and Del Norte to form a Regional Food System Partnership that will allow the entire North Coast region to better respond to future emergencies; and so much more.

This focused and coordinated response has helped to temporarily shield Humboldt from some effects of the pandemic, but it has also highlighted gaps in our local food system. Namely, infrastructure for food is inadequate to meet our needs, both currently and as we hope to increase the amount of local food that is grown and raised in the future so we can rely less on imports from outside of the region. Food infrastructure includes a variety of aspects: storage space including freezer and refrigerated units, distribution networks like shared systems for deliveries or central locations from where wholesale orders can be picked up, and technologies like online ordering systems.

In response, local organizations across Humboldt and Del Norte counties have come together to create a regional food hub. The hub’s main focus will be connecting local farmers to large-scale buyers including stores, restaurants, and institutions while providing marketing and training opportunities for our local agricultural producers. This approach will ensure that the North Coast’s food system continues to grow to serve the needs of our expanding community by providing affordable, nutrient dense foods to residents living throughout the region and spanning all income levels.

We have all seen the prices on food shelves rise steadily over the past year, but most of this increase isn’t going into farmers’ pockets. Rather, it is being used to cover the increased costs of packaging and distributing food across the state and country. While the cost of some inputs our local farmers use are increasing, we haven’t experienced the same inflation at farmers’ markets as grocery stores are seeing. We’ve observed recently that produce prices at the local big-box retailers have been the same, if not more expensive, as comparable locally grown options at the farmers’ market. Plus our local farmers’ markets offer programs that help make our farmers’ food more affordable.

Each of NCGA’s farmers’ markets accepts CalFresh/EBT and offers a Market Match. Market Match will double up to the first $10 in EBT spending at the farmers’ market. EBT customers can visit any Market Info booth, ask the market manager to swipe their card for whatever amount they’d like to withdraw from their card, and will receive that many tokens to spend with vendors at the market plus up to $10 worth of additional tokens. Market Match tokens can be spent on fresh fruits and veggies as well as plant starts for your garden, and EBT tokens can also be spent on any other grocery item including meat, cheese, eggs, bread, hot sauce, honey, and more.

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Megan Kenney (she/her) is the Director of Cooperative Distribution for NCGA. In addition to managing farmers’ markets and coordinating the Harvest Box program (a multi-farm CSA style produce box), Megan works with other local organizations to improve Humboldt’s food infrastructure and improve our region’s food security.

As Our Bodies & Planetary Systems Become “Inflamed,” How Do We Heal?

In their new book, authors Rupa Marya and Raj Patel explore how capitalism and colonialism have caused sickness and how Indigenous knowledge can offer healing.
by Sonali Kolhatkar; reprinted with permission from Yes! Magazine

Multiple planetary crises are breaking out simultaneously: a global pandemic, heat waves, deadly floods, disappearing biodiversity, failing infrastructure. To authors Rupa Marya and Raj Patel, these crises—and their solutions—are intimately linked and ought to be viewed as an interconnected web if we are to ever begin clawing our way to personal and global health.

Marya is an Oakland, California-based practicing physician who has routinely treated patients struggling with COVID-19. Her co-author Patel is a well-known writer and thinker on food politics whose books include Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing. The two joined forces to craft a sweeping analysis of the failing health of our planet and its varied living species, including human beings, in their new book Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice.

To explore the unmistakable connections we share, Marya and Patel organized their ideas around bodily systems that function in tandem to thrive—immune, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive systems, as well as connective tissue—and extend these to descriptors of the ecological functioning of the planet.

Moreover, they point out how modern medicine has often missed these necessary connections—to our global detriment. What is needed is “deep medicine,” which, according to the authors, “requires new cosmologies, ones that can braid our lives with the planet and the web of life around us.”

Rupa Marya and Raj Patel spoke to YES! about the ravages of colonialist capitalism, the failures of modern medicine to treat them, and, most importantly, how a “deep medicine” approach can heal us all.

*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Is the title of the book, Inflamed, a metaphor for what is happening to our planet and its living systems?

Rupa Marya: It’s not at all a metaphor. It’s a description of what’s happening inside of our bodies and around us on the planet and our societies. The inflammatory response is the body’s ancient evolutionarily conserved pathway to restoring its optimal working condition when it’s been thrown off by danger or damage or the threat of damage.

What we’ve seen over the course of the past 30 years is that inflammatory diseases are the leading causes of death in industrialized places that have been really impacted by colonialism, whose societies are set up through the architectures that were put in place during colonial rule. The people who are colonized are suffering the heaviest and hardest impact of these inflammatory diseases.

In the past 10 years, we’ve learned that actually all of these diseases we commonly treat in the hospital are diseases where the immune system is in this chronic inflammatory state. What was surprising is how literal those connections are.

Sonali Kolhatkar: You point out how part of the problem of modern medicine and the immune system is that it relies on the language of war. Where did that originate?

Raj Patel: The idea of the “foreigner within” is actually central to our language of immunity. When the Romans were busy colonizing other cities, they needed a term for someone who wasn’t quite the same as Romans, who were not governed by the same duties as Romans were. They came up with the idea of citizens who were free but “immune,” that is, free of duties, and therefore not the same as native Romans were. This idea of “self and other,” of “us versus them,” deploys ideas of warfare, [as well as] ideas of the body policing itself in one way or another.

Humans are in fact, “nodes” in webs of life. It’s not just about “enemies within and without,” and not just about “border patrols within and without,” but complex series of systems within systems.

Sonali Kolhatkar: How should we be viewing sickness and health in a way that leads us to healing?

Rupa Marya: The ways that I’ve been trained to think are, “we’re at war with cancer,” “we’re at war with COVID,” “we’re fighting the enemy.” A more useful framing [of illness] is understanding where our relationships have been fractured—those relationships that actually support a healthy interaction with the immune system—so that the body can do what it knows how to do, which is restore its own balance.

It’s not that the body is having an abnormal response to a perfect world. It’s that the body is having its programmed, evolutionarily intact, healthy response to a totally unhealthy world system around it.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Is the coronavirus pandemic a symptom of our broken system of health?

Rupa Marya: Probably the hardest part of writing this book during the pandemic was suiting up in my personal protective equipment (PPE), going to the hospital and seeing exactly what we were writing about. COVID has actually proven our thesis. It has laid it all out for all to see. Those people who face chronic social defeat—those who are most oppressed—are the ones whose bodies are preconditioned for a massive inflammatory response, and that’s what we’ve seen.

It’s actually programmed in our immune cells from the time before we’re born. It comes down through our ancestral lines, through the genes passed in our microbes from our mothers, through all of these molecular messengers.

Sonali Kolhatkar: In that case, what do healthy responses to a healthy world look like?

Rupa Marya: Those cultures who have those relationships still intact, such as the Yanomami (the Indigenous communities of the Amazon), some of the hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, some of the tribes in India, they don’t suffer the same kinds of inflammatory diseases that we do. They don’t have cancer or age-related hypertension. I learned in medical school that everyone has age-onset of high blood pressure but in fact, no, these folks don’t have that.
We should be asking, “What are the knowledge systems and ways of understanding our place in relationship to the rest of the web of life that we can honor and learn from, to give us a healthier body but also a healthier planet to be living in?”

Sonali Kolhatkar: One of the things that has often rubbed me the wrong way is our modern focus on individual health. We focus on putting pure foods into our bodies, taking meditation, and wellness classes, etc., and not enough on systemic fixes to collective health problems. How do you address this?

Raj Patel: One of the things that we’re very keen on pointing out is that the colonialist moment was also a capitalist moment. And with modern capitalism comes the rise of the individual consumer, and the individual purchaser of medical devices and technology, and the individualist approach to thinking about medicine.

For example, I was very interested to learn in the process of writing this book how the gut microbiome is denuded by the assaults of modern capitalism. And so, what does modern capitalism do? It deploys a certain kind of “salvage anthropology” and a certain kind of “salvage medicine,” by which we mean going into the Amazon and getting what we can from the Yanomami community. We assume they are destined for death, and so what we must do is save as much as we can of their microbiome.

Instead, what we have to do is transform the societies that we find ourselves in here, the dynamics that have rendered extinct so much of our own microbiome. What that means is that you can’t do this process of decolonizing alone. It’s not therapy. It’s not something where you talk your way out of it. That means a break with individualist culture. But that’s the joy of the “deep medicine” that we’re offering.

Rupa Marya: COVID is really an opportunity for us to advance what Raj and I call “deep medicine.” It actually cannot be a plight of individuals anymore. There are floods in London, Germany, and China. Nevada, California, and Oregon are on fire. The wildfire smoke is going to New York.

These things are so hopelessly interconnected that we can’t simply get ourselves to an ashram and say “om” enough times to feel better. That’s not going to alleviate the kind of anxiety that we’re feeling, which is truly a social anxiety because we are social creatures. This is a time for new narratives. It is a time for new ways of diagnosing. The ways that we have learned up until this point are inadequate at addressing the levels of disease that we are seeing in the patterns of disease that we are seeing.

Sonali Kolhatkar: How do we change this system and uplift Indigenous ways of managing our resources and life systems?

Rupa Marya: What I have learned from our Indigenous friends and what I continue to learn is that we need to be reestablishing our webs of relationships. For example, we need to understand that the water is alive. It’s not just there to have our waste thrown into.

We need to understand that the salmon is a pump, and the heart of this whole system. It’s moving the phosphorus into the forest, and its DNA is found in the needles of the tallest fir tree.

We have a whole system of knowledge that’s already here, and we need to offer our humility in reaching out to Indigenous communities and giving them the power to be sovereign again in their lands. That means they should have the power to decide what happens on the land, to set the fires that need to be set, in the ways that they need to do here in California [to address wildfires]. I think it really is time to listen and to seriously look at shifting the power structure so that people who know how to manage things can be in charge.

Raj Patel: In general, Indigenous communities, when given enough land to recover from catastrophes, and given enough power to be able to manage that land, do much better than the private or the public sector. There are ways that are decentralized, that cede responsibility, and that allow people to live with the consequences of their actions in ways that right now we don’t allow.

For example, the Global South lives with the consequences of the histories of resource extraction through the Global North and through colonial capitalism.

And so, without being romantic and misty-eyed about Indigenous communities, we should point to evidence about how in general, and with few exceptions, Indigenous communities have reams of data, evidence, and stories that show long histories of knowledge about how it is that we can live in the world.

Sonali Kolhatkar: Has science failed us?

Rupa Marya: There are these deep problems that science must contend with. Indigenous sciences such as Traditional Ecological Knowledge, for example, in the management of forest systems always has a moral aspect to it. That means you’re not going to do something that will violate the rights of another entity in order to amass your own knowledge. I think there are ways that we can learn and evolve our practices in science and in medicine.

We use Western science to ground a lot of our investigations and arguments, and I feel like we should. We should take what’s useful out of these things and we should demand that these ways of knowing evolve to be in service of the care of the people and the planet and all the living entities.

Raj Patel: Right now, there is a sort of “science police,” trying to slice back the number of people who get counted as scientists because Indigenous people and peasants, particularly peasant women, are not seen as fit or in some way as capable of peer review as people with advanced scientific degrees. The fact is, systems like agro-ecology for example, are far more robust in terms of climate change, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and resilience than systems of industrial agriculture that have gotten us into the powerless state in which we find ourselves.

Sonali Kolhatkar: How ancient is the Indigenous-led science of human and planetary health?

Rupa Marya: There are knowledge systems that have been built up over 10,000 years and are meant to be shared and used in a decentralized fashion, not hoarded and sequestered.

We have to look very closely at the economic social systems that we’re living under and whether or not they suit us anymore. The conclusion that we’ve come to is that they haven’t suited us for about 600 years and it’s really far past time that we sloughed them off so that we can have a robust response to the challenges that are right in our face.

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Sonali Kolhatkar is currently the racial justice editor at YES! Media and a writing fellow with Independent Media Institute. She was previously a weekly columnist for She is also the host and creator of Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations.

Meeting Needs & Shifting Culture

At Cooperation Humboldt, we believe that access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food is a fundamental human right.
by Tamara McFarland, Cooperation Humboldt

Cooperation Humboldt was built upon the conviction that the basic necessities for a good life – like food, shelter and education – should be guaranteed to everyone – full stop. No one should go hungry. No one should be unhoused. No one should lack access to education and meaningful work. Through our various program areas and projects, we are creating solutions at the local level to make this vision a reality.

When it comes to food sovereignty, our objective is to return this region to a regenerative and life-sustaining food forest capable of supporting every resident with the food that they need for a healthy and active life.

Our Food Sovereignty projects have been developed through a strategic process of exploring goals, strategies, and tactics. We’ve carefully evaluated what services already exist in our community and focused on creating new and innovative projects while supporting and uplifting the good work that other organizations are already doing to further the goals of food justice.

Our food projects meet immediate tangible needs while empowering residents with new skills and strengthening community connections. We aim to address hunger not through charity but rather by providing folks with the information and materials they need to meet more of their own needs – and the needs of their communities – while reducing (and ultimately eliminating) reliance on the highly destructive industrialized/globalized food system.

Little Free Pantries

Our first food project focused on establishing Little Free Pantries as neighborhood hubs for resource sharing and relationship building. We’ve installed 25 Pantries in the greater Humboldt Bay area. They operate similarly to the more well-known Little Free Libraries – anyone can donate nonperishable food or personal care items, and anyone can take what they need, 24 hours a day. These little blue boxes have been embraced wholeheartedly by community members, with each receiving daily use.

Community Fruit Trees

For the past four years, we’ve offered free fruit trees to community members and organizations willing to make the fruit available to anyone who wants some. We have planted 260 fruit trees to date. This year’s fruit trees were offered exclusively to local tribal members.

Mini Gardens

In Spring 2020, we launched our Mini Gardens project, and since that time we have delivered and installed 400 complete small garden setups to low-income residents. This not only provides food in the short term – it also empowers participants to grow more of their own food well into the future. We expect to install an additional 100 mini gardens in 2022.

Community Gardening

In partnership with Centro del Pueblo and the Arcata Presbyterian Church, Cooperation Humboldt co-stewards Jardín Santuario, the community garden on the corner of 11th and F Streets in Arcata. The garden is filled with edible perennials, annuals, herbs and native plants, all cultivated as a sanctuary and community resource for underserved residents. We strive to create a space of learning, empowerment, nutrition, and regeneration.


We provide educational resources relating to growing food including videos, in-person workshops and garden tours, printed materials, and more.

In partnership with our local Small Business Development Center, Cooperation Humboldt’s Worker Owned Humboldt project provides free guidance for folks interested in creating worker-owned cooperatives, including those in the food industry.

Community Food Guide

The magazine you’re reading now became part of Cooperation Humboldt’s Food Sovereignty program in 2021. It is a powerful tool for sharing information, supporting local producers, and empowering residents to access nutritious locally grown foods. This is a critical piece of our broader vision.

We hope you enjoy what you learn here, and we invite you to connect with us to create a community where food is understood to be a human right.

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Tamara McFarland (she/her) is a lifelong resident of Wiyot territory and a mother to two kids. She serves as Board President and Food Team Coordinator for Cooperation Humboldt.

Dedication: Re-sourcing our Source

By Marva Sii~xuutesna Jones, Tolowa/Yurok/Karuk/Wintu Ancestral Worldview Activist

As xvsh (human beings) of Nvn-nvst-’a~ (Mother Earth), we must reflect our value of place-based connection. We reveal our value of place intentionally in how we love, how we walk and what we do. We are people of these places and living in these spaces; we must acknowledge place to remain connected and/or reconnect to ourselves through our hearts, minds and presence as we are mindful of our homeland. The value of place is a meaningful, deeply-seated practice of thousands of generations preexisting this lifetime. The connection of place comes through our relationship with source. These values of source are directly linked to our ancestral foods with positive impacts of community-building, increasing engagements with our environments and prioritizing the relevance and awareness of our active worldview balance.

Place-based value aligns us with our source, as it is the core function of everything we are, everywhere we go and everything we do, as we create life itself. In this sense, source is defined as Nvn-nvst-’a~ and all her beautiful offerings. Relationship with source is purposeful in our humble walk throughout our lifetime as we consciously engage our share here, at this time, in our most purposeful ways. It’s having the courage to be a model and expression of truth through meaningful approaches which is its ultimate form, love. Carrying this attention of place forth is ever so vital to enriching our health, wellness and very existence.

Caring for place and connecting with Nvn-nvst-’a~ illustrates our strong ties to uphold this relationship. Acknowledgement is a very deliberate act as it reconfirms our essences of source. These practices of value have been modeled and perpetuated by our Indigenous Tribal peoples of this very homeland (Tolowa, Yurok, Hupa, Wiyot and Karuk) who have lived in healthy balance with Mother Earth for millennia. These acts of connection come through prayer, song, dance, intention, reflection, respect, love and food. During these acts we acknowledge all life before us and yet to come after us; history, lineage, matriarchs, happiness, challenges, lessons, gifts and stability are reflected with strength, sustenance and balance through intentional deed and care.

We are made of stardust, we are made of the exact same elements, minerals and compounds of Mother Earth. Undeniably, our sacredness goes beyond the scientific structures and is expressed through our relationships with source in a myriad of acts.

The simple, yet very effective practice of acknowledgment, centers us and orients us to be mindful of where, how and what we carry forward. Holding onto this relationship is a daily approach. Daily reminders of gratitude shape our connections and strengthen our bonds.

Comprehensive protocols to simple acts of sacredness enhance and uphold our relationship with source. Our ancient ceremonial practices illustrate these very acts of care still practiced today. Coming together as one to praise and thank our Mother Earth and all its sustenance remains strong. We do not limit our celebration of sacredness, as ceremony is a daily practice and relates to our direct overall well-being. Gratitude keeps our minds and hearts focused on the good things this life offers us and our foods are an essential and primary component of this relationship. Upholding these intentional relationships demonstrates our ancestral care today as we thrive beyond colonization.

Being heartful and aware of our was-li~ (energy) is our ultimate truest form of self, through uplifted expression in its rawest forms. When we are actively conscious of how we create our was-li~, it guides our authenticity and ability to live in balance with source. Sharing our was-li~ through an active exchange cultivates our intentions as awareness is primal.
We move to enhance our lives through this exchange in creating our lives. We must train our minds and hearts to elevate and vibrate in our own chosen forms and frequencies. Expressing the fullness of our own essence is vital to place-based connection. Healthy was-li~ exchange and attuning ourselves in our frequency is alchemy. Healthy balance syncs and uplifts these things that keep us whole.

It’s caring for our food sources. It’s praying for these sources which nurture our energy. It’s harvesting and processing our foods with our youth. It’s talking to our foods while we are harvesting them, thanking them for their nutrients. It’s consuming these foods which engages us in their biomes and habitats.

It’s living and loving through experiencing our places and defending their existence. It’s our intentions through deliberate acts that encourage us to be more in tune with our places. It’s participating in practices that engage all of our senses to uphold our ancestors while preparing and creating unbroken space for our descendants.

It’s our matriarchal bonds through our maintenance and growth of our matriarchal teachings. It’s nurturing these bonds with the women in our lives. It’s building and expanding these teachings, so they are securely tied to our future.
It’s visiting our places we hold sacred. It’s giving back respect and acknowledging where we put our feet and spaces we cross or live. It’s looking at our own carbon footprint and paying attention to our waste.

It’s ensuring our homelands survive beyond capitalism and protecting the rights of Mother Earth to exist. It’s being mindful of what we support and how we can help.

It’s speaking up and showing up to defend our very existence in a world where everything is a commodity, and worth is only measured by money. It’s being that voice at water board meetings, air quality board meetings and at global climate actions. It’s being at actions to safeguard and protect our places threatened by development and corporate abuse. It’s our responsible stand of keeping these things we hold sacred, sacred.

It’s engaging our youth by modeling, teaching and showing techniques, protocols and practices to sustain our value of place-based connections. It’s restoring and renewing our approaches with rooted balance offered in a loving way to foster empathy to others and ourselves.

It’s being conscious of all these things that keep us thriving. It’s being mindful of our choices and how we treat things, people and ourselves. It’s how we think, how we talk and how we share. This is the deepest part of resourcing our source as we manifest a world that returns to respecting our worldview of place-based blessings. It’s a way of life, it’s a mindset that we choose in how we relate to our source. We were passed this relationship to nurture our homelands and ultimately ourselves.

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Marva Sii~xuutesna Jones is a community-builder with ancestral approaches at the forefront. Service and advocacy are offered in grassroots, community-driven and tribally-focused initiatives. Sii~xuutesna is committed to strong bonds of lineal responsibility of decolonization, while practicing and protecting these things that keep us whole.


“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”
– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the 2022 Community Food Guide! This publication is part of the Food Sovereignty program of Cooperation Humboldt, where we believe that access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food is a fundamental human right that should never be dependent on wealth or income.

We’ve worked to create a magazine that promotes access, equity, education, and empowerment in our local food system through the following priorities:

  • Honoring the history, cultural knowledge, and experiences of local Indigenous people and centering their voices.
  • Creating an appealing, accessible, and useful tool that specifically supports those most in need.
  • Supporting local food businesses, especially those that have historically faced challenges accessing resources, including those owned and operated by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people.
  • Promoting justice, sovereignty and localization in our food system.

We hope you will enjoy the Guide, share it, and let us know how you’ve put it to use to grow local food sovereignty.
The work to create this publication was conducted on unceded Wiyot territory. We are fortunate to live, work, play, and grow in this place, surrounded by beauty and abundance, and grateful to the original inhabitants of this land for their stewardship, tenacity and generosity.

Tamara McFarland
Editor; Food Team Coordinator
Cooperation Humboldt