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UC Berkeley lecturer maps food production, distribution

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Cartographer and UC Berkeley lecturer Darin Jensen stands in front of maps created by students based on the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco.


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Senior Staff Writer

OCTOBER 25, 2012

Maps showing where meat is slaughtered in Maryland, where barley for brewing beer is grown and where taco trucks travel in Oakland, among others, will soon be combined into a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded atlas, thanks to a UC Berkeley lecturer.

Darin Jensen, co-editor of “Food: An Atlas” and a cartographer and lecturer in the UC Berkeley department of geography, described the atlas as a project in “guerrilla cartography and publishing.” In June, he released a call for food-related maps to a cartographic society and has included about 70 of the 90 submissions received in the book, which is scheduled to be published Nov. 15.

“To me, when I did it, it was just my quirky little, ‘Let’s try this crazy experiment,’” Jensen said. “And it was received really well.”

The atlas will include food-related maps in five different categories, including food production, food distribution, food security, cuisine and conceptual maps. The book will also feature a separate children’s section with maps curated from the book “Mission: Explore Food” by the Geography Collective, a group of geography activists, teachers, therapists, academics and artists.

Charles Levkoe, a doctoral candidate and researcher at the University of Toronto, submitted a map to show how Canadian food networks, which include farmers market associations, community gardeners and food policy councils, are working together to change the food system. He teamed up with a designer to create a one-page visual representation of the network.

“It’s not just saying this is where this is, and this is where that is — it’s a conceptual map, which is why I thought this project was so interesting,” Levkoe said. “We’re trying to get across this idea of what this food movement looks like spatially.”

To pay for the project, Jensen and his team launched a Kickstarter campaign that allows anyone to donate and support the project. During its run, which lasted 21 days from Oct. 2 to 23, the campaign raised $29,569 from 747 donors — nearly $10,000 more than the original goal, according to the Kickstarter page. The extra money raised will allow about an additional 1,600 books to be printed, up from the original target of 1,100 books.

“That’s guerrilla publishing because we didn’t wait for a publisher to pick up the book,” Jensen said. “We didn’t pitch the book to anybody. We’re just creating one. And the only obstacle between creating a book and getting a book into the hands of people is printing the book, which is expensive.”

To attract donations, the project team gave rewards to donors who pledged certain amounts.

Neal Parish, a land use and real estate attorney in Oakland, said he gave $500 to the project partly because that amount was the original trigger point for a reward that included a bus tour of Oakland taco trucks.

While the final price has yet to be determined, Jensen said the book will most probably sell for less than $25. His team plans on donating the funds raised from book sales to a food-related nonprofit organization.

Contact Mitchell Handler at [email protected].

OCTOBER 26, 2012

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