As 2016 winds down, Teresa and I want to share a few of our favorite things that appeared in UC Food Observer this last year. While we love “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” our favorite things are really the people, places and things that make up the food system.

This was a surprisingly difficult task, because we speak with many interesting people who are passionate about all things related to food and agriculture.

Here are just a few stories we were happy to revisit:

Kathy Keatley Garvey Sees Beauty in Pollinators

a-syrphid-aka-flower-fly-or-hover-fly-on-tower-of-jewels-echium-wildpretiiKathy Keatley Garvey is a UC colleague. On most days, you’ll find her outside finding, photographing and documenting insects, especially pollinators. This Communications Specialist for UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology – as well as a 4-H county program – is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.

As the well-respected photographer explains:

“I see the world through a viewfinder. The work that I do is about the diversity of pollinators, their importance in our food supply and ecosystem, the beauty and the awe, and how we can protect them. Bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat. They are crucial to our ecosystem.”

Read the article.


Wormfarm Institute Reconnects Rural and Urban Communities 

Photo: Wormfarm Institute.
Photo: Wormfarm Institute.

This non-profit organization in south central Wisconsin is providing innovative educational and arts programs, which are successfully bringing together urban and rural communities. The award-winning effort is reconnecting “agri” with “culture,” according to co-founder farmer/artist Donna Neuwirth.

She explains:

“Rural America is undergoing a period of dramatic cultural and demographic change. Such developments call for our attention and creative action. For thousands of years, farmers in cultures around the world interwove dance, music and art through rituals of planting and the harvest in celebration of the land and those who care for it. Our hybrid projects present an opportunity to reach thousands of people – and to do what art alone can do: inspire and open doors to new ways of seeing.”

Read the article.

Food Folks in the #805

Chris Massa
Chris Massa, Salad Bar Farms

Two of our favorite pieces were generated by three people who live in the same area code (805). These include Chris Massa, a former FoodCorps service member and UC 30 Under 30 award winner, and the UC Santa Barbara  (UCSB) #gaucho Soup Guys (Mickael Blancho and Bernard Gayraud).

All of these individuals are focused on providing healthy and locally-sourced food to students. In Chris’ case, the work is a student farm at a Ventura middle school, which provides food to the cafeteria.

The UCSB Soup Guys are two French-trained chefs, who are focused on preparing world-class soups for UCSB students.

UCSB’s Soup Guys

Learn more about Chris Massa and Salad Bar Farms here. And treat yourself to this tasty piece about the UCSB Soup Guys.

Travels Inspire Stories

A trip to Cuba in July provided inspiration for a handful of pieces. One visit to a farm/restaurant provided inspiration for this piece.

A trip closer to home – this one to Oregon’s Willamette Valley – led to a meeting with one of the year’s most memorable characters, Barney Dardis.

Barney is a plant manager for food processor Truitt Family Foods in Salem. He’s been working in food processing for forty years, since he was in high school. He provided one of the year’s most memorable quotes:

“I try to tell people how much effort goes into putting food on their table every day. Getting food to the grocery store is an incredible undertaking. One thing that makes this country so great is its safe, affordable and plentiful food supply. We take it for granted. You don’t have to go very far to see what a country is like that doesn’t have that… We put our hand out at the store and someone puts something in it to eat. That’s not the way it works in the majority of the world.”

Read the story.

Message from Rose and Teresa:

Thank you for reading the UC Food Observer and for following us on social media. We value you, appreciate you and wish you Happy Holidays. See you in 2017!