The UC Food Observer chooses some important stories for you to read each work day.
On today’s menu, in no particular order:
1. The growing demand for ‘fair’ food: In 1960, CBS News broadcast “Harvest of Shame,” Edward R. Murrow’s groundbreaking documentary, which exposed the conditions on farms in rural Florida, North Carolina and New Jersey. More than a half century later, there are still about a million migrant farm workers in the U.S. The population of towns like Immokalee, Florida, swells every winter when migrants and their families move there looking for work. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its Fair Food Program has made inroads in the fight for workers’ rights in Florida’s fields. Mark Strassmann reports for CBS Sunday Morning.
2. School gardens: City Blossoms is one of many groups across the country teaming up with local communities to install school gardens in areas with low access to fresh, healthy foods. These gardens, advocates say, are really outdoor classrooms where kids learn valuable lessons — not just about nutrition, but also about science and math, even business skills. Paige Pfleger (@PaigePfleger) reports for NPR.
3. Cool Schools: Sierra magazine’s list of the greenest universities is out, with the University of California leading the way. UC Irvine is the coolest school in the country for the second year in a row, with three more UC campuses in the top 10: UC Davis (No. 2), UC San Diego (No. 7) and UC Berkeley (No. 10), and another three UC campuses in the top 50: UC Santa Barbara (No. 18), UCLA (No. 42) and UC Santa Cruz (No. 44). Common characteristics for honored campuses: Dining halls that serve organic and local foods, waste systems that divert trash from landfills, transportation options that keep students and staff out of cars, eco-focused academic programs, and strong methods to conserve water and energy. Jed Kim (@JedSkim) reports for KPCC.
4. Food and public health: The Affordable Care Act not only expands access to health care, it also provides opportunities to support a healthier agricultural system, according to an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle by Liz Carlisle, a fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Diversified Farming Systems and author of “Lentil Underground.” Learn more in our Q&A with Carlisle. Also, check out Kathryn Doyle’s (@doyleschmoyle) story for Reuters about a new Canadian study that people with severe food insecurity have health care costs more than twice as high as people who are food secure.
5. Water-wise urban farms: As California moves through its fourth summer of drought, cutting back on water use means shorter showers, fuller dishwashers and drier lawns for most people living in urban areas. But for small farms nestled between city streets, saving water means recycling it — and finding new ways to keep plants alive without wasting the precious liquid. The small-scale operations leave room for more creative approaches to drought-friendly growing practices. For those producing and selling food in the city, the drought has provided opportunities as well as obstacles, reports Katie Shepherd (@katemshepherd) for the Los Angeles Times.
6. More on Milan Expo: The Milan Expo 2015 is part Disneyland, part Venice Biennale for consciousness-raising about climate change and food waste – only without the rides or the art, writes Rachel Donadio (@RachelDonadio) for The New York Times. Her food-filled take on the expo’s theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” follows coverage highlighted last week by UC Food Observer from Alon Tal in The Huffington Post and David Watts Barton in The Sacramento Bee.
7. Space farming: In space, food is freeze-dried, prepackaged and not always very tasty. But on Monday aboard the International Space Station, astronauts got a rare treat: fresh lettuce. The red romaine lettuce was grown by NASA’s Veggie project, which has one goal — to bring salad to space. The verdict from astronaut Scott Kelly: “Tastes good. Kinda like arugula.” Geoff Brumfiel (@gbrumfiel) reports for NPR, Amanda Barnett (@albarnett1958) reports for CNN and Alan Yuhas (@AlanYuhas) reports for The Guardian.
8. Food-safety finding on habitat: After a deadly food poisoning outbreak in 2006 was traced to a spinach field in California’s Central Coast, growers came under pressure from the salad greens industry to strip bare the wildlands between their fields. The idea was that removing non-crop vegetation would reduce the number of wild animals entering the fields and potentially contaminating crops with illness-causing pathogens. But the effort to improve food safety by clearing wild vegetation surrounding crops is not helping, and in some cases may even backfire, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley. Read coverage by Emily Gertz (@ejgertz) for Take Part, Dan Charles (@nprDanCharles) for NPR, Kristine Wong for Civil Eats and for Brooks Hays for UPI. Study senior author Claire Kremen talks about pollinators in the California Matters video series from Mark Bittman (@Bittman), via UC’s Global Food Initiative and the Berkeley Food Institute, and a related story in The New York Times.