UC Food Observer chooses a handful of important stories for you to read as you finish your work week. On the menu, in no particular order: growing coffee and avocados in So Cal; U.S. Representative Tim Ryan wants to start a food revolution; waiting for rain; soil conservation farming; and Mexico’s booming berry trade.


1. Growing coffee (and avocados) in Southern California. Small-scale farmer Jay Ruskey is growing coffee in coastal Southern California. Collaborating with University of California researcher Mark Gaskell, Ruskey is inter-planting coffee with avocado trees. Benefits: shade, and no additional land, water or fertilizer required. Results: success, and an award-winning coffee bean.


2. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan wants to start a food revolution. The Democrat from Ohio is now in his sixth term, and is ready for big changes in the food system. When asked about one “big idea” for the food system, Ryan offered this answer: “Shift subsidies.”


3. The art and science of waiting. The University of California’s Faith Kearns writes a lyrical piece about the science behind waiting. She applies the research to California’s drought…and waiting for rain.


4. Soil conservation farming gains traction. It’s also known as no-tillage farming, and it’s growing in popularity. The suite of methods promotes leaving fields untilled, the use of cover crops, and other soil-enhancing practices. Converts to the method say it can reduce fertilizer use, can lead to larger yields, and provides some resilience in times of drought. Cover crops can also suppress weeds, which may reduce pesticide use. Skeptics say it’s too expensive, among other things.


5. Mexico’s berry trade surges. Mexico is now the world’s third-largest exporter of berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Less than two decades ago, the industry didn’t even exist. Now it employs more than 100,000 people and garners nearly $1 billion a year. What’s driving this growth? In part, problems in California and Chile.