Good morning! The UC Food Observer wraps up some of the week’s top stories in a tasty read as you end your work week. On the menu, in no particular order.


Doing good things for people with local food. A Hudson Valley (New York) activist brings locally-produced veggies to those who are incarcerated. Jalal Sabur works with the Freedom Food Alliance, a group of rural activists – including farmers – who are tackling “food sovereignty, environmental justice, prisoner justice and economic justice.” Sabur says this of his work: “It’s just making sure that everyone has access to the most nutritious, healthiest food possible.” This is a splendid piece about a topic most of us know very little about. The article surfaces a number of important issues about the myriad challenges facing those incarcerated in America’s prisons. By Maura Ewing (@mauraewing) for Edible Manhattan. The photography is excellent; credit Michael Rudin.


The sharing economy comes to the farm. Falling commodity prices and tightening farm profits in the Midwest are providing a different kind of business opportunity. A new platform developed by FarmLink enables farmers to connect to other farmers to lease out their combines and other heavy equipment (and a mobile app may be on the way). A short, interesting read by Alan Bjerga (@AlanBjerga) for Bloomberg Business.


School lunches are becoming healthier. A federal report released this week indicates “that the nutritional profile of school meals in the United States had improved substantially since higher government standards went into effect in 2012.” But are students eating the lunches? Sabrina Tavernise (@stavernise) covers science and public health for the New York Times. This is a good piece; Tavernise provides a balanced and nuanced look at a complex and politically volatile topic.


Why we need happier chickens. And why is it taking so long? There is broad consensus around the issue of improving chicken welfare. Large retailers, including Costco, have pledged to go cage-free, but have been vague about the timeline. Why the delay? Jacob Koffler (@JacobKoffler) has penned a comprehensive piece about the topic: where we have been, where we are…and where we are going. This piece appears in Time. The opening sentence? “Nearly all egg-laying hens across America live in a metal cage with floor space roughly the size of an iPad.” This image may stay with you for a while.


Rising property prices in West Oakland threaten a food activist’s dreams.  Devin Katayama (@RadioDevin) reports for KQED. For years, food activist Brahm Amahdi (he founded People’s Grocery) has tried to bring a full-service grocery store to West Oakland. But skyrocketing property prices are proving an obstacle. And this raises larger issues about community food access…who pays for infrastructure? Government, investors or a combination of both? A provocative read.


Russia’s food ban. By now, many of us have seen images of Russian officials destroying imported food. It’s a disturbing trend. Brian Whitmore (@PowerVertical) pens an incredibly important piece about Russia’s food war with other nations. Appearing in The Atlantic. Pair with another piece by Whitmore – Brave New Russia – appearing in Whitmore’s The Power Vertical blog. Whitmore is an expert in Russian politics and reports for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and we’ll be following his work on a regular basis.


Food culture. The University of Mississippi offers an introduction to Southern Foodways course. They’ve provided the course syllabus so you can read along. (Thanks, Jenna Mason). And in reflection on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a Gravy podcast special: Red Beans, Red Wine and Rebuilds. From the Southern Foodways Alliance.


This is a content-rich environment…we’re sharing other stories on our Twitter feed and Facebook page. And look for our Q&A later today…we sat down with organic policy expert Mark Lipson for a chat about what’s next for organics.


Have a great weekend.