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: a UC Food Observer piece on the history of school gardens…and how today’s FoodCorps is helping communities across the nation engage in growing enterprises. Mark Bittman asks: Can we make food issues real? A stunning photographic essay of the California drought, brought to us by Matt Black. The Blue Bell ice cream listeria outbreak reveals some gaps in food safety. And five things you need to know about Tyson’s announcement that it will curtail the use of human antibiotics in chicken production.


1. School gardens have a rich history in the United States. More than 100 years ago, a school garden founder wrote, “I did not start a garden to grow a few vegetables and flowers. The garden was used as a means to…teach them in their work some necessary civic virtues, private care of public property, economy, honestly, application, concentration, self-government, civic pride, justice, the dignity of labor, and the love of nature…” Learn more about the fascinating past of school gardens…and how the school garden model is flourishing today, with a boost from FoodCorps service members. Great visuals.


2. Can we make food issues real? Chef/author Mark Bittman pens an interesting op-ed for the New York Times that you’ll want to read. Is the food movement a movement? And what would he like to hear from presidential candidates such as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton? You’ll also learn about an exciting new video series, California Matters, developed by the University of California as part of its Global Food Initiative. Launching on Monday, May 11th, the 10-part series follows Mark Bittman across the state as he explores leading-edge UC research in food, sustainable agriculture, policy and health.


3. The Central Valley comprises less than 1 percent of the nation’s farmland, yet it produces a quarter of the nation’s food. The drought has seriously impacted the Central Valley’s agriculture and people. Photographer Matt Black (@MattBlack_Matt) has been taking photographs “documenting the drought’s impact on communities that he believes rarely receive the attention they deserve.” In this piece for NPR’s Morning Edition, a number of Black’s photographs are featured in a photo essay. They evoke the images taken by photographers employed by the U.S. Farm Security Administration and the U.S. Resettlement Administration during the Great Depression (think of Dorothea Lange). A must read.


4. Investigative reporting reveals gaps in food safety. According to FDA records, the agency found evidence of listeria bacteria at a Blue Bell ice cream manufacturing plant in Oklahoma as far back as March 2013. Blue Bell “continued to ship ice cream produced in that plant after what the Food and Drug Administration says was inadequate cleaning.” The information came to light after The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information request with the FDA. The FDA listed 17 separate tests positive for listeria in the Oklahoma plant over the course of 23 months. Three deaths have been linked to the ice cream. Last month, Blue Bell recalled all of its products.


5. Tyson Foods recently made big news when it announced that it was “striving” to end the use of human antibiotics in the production of its chicken. Tyson is one of the world’s largest chicken producers. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called it “the tipping point for getting the chicken industry off antibiotics.” And it is part of a growing trend: recently, Chipotle, McDonald’s and other leading restaurants pledged to go antibiotic-free. (Note: Tyson is a major supplier for McDonald’s). But what does Tyson’s announcement really mean? And is it enough? Anna Roth (@annaroth) reports on five things you need to consider about this issue – including the lack of governmental oversight – for Civil Eats.


Have a great weekend.


Note: On this day, 101 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation creating Mother’s Day. Have a happy one!