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: the USDA reports trends on local and regional food systems; activist chef Tom Colicchio becomes a network news food correspondent; a history of livestock breeding; Chipotle meals can pack a big caloric punch; a labor dispute at West Coast ports is hurting California’s agriculture industry.

Bonus: read our original piece on food system reform and national security.


1. The USDA reports on trends in local and regional food systems. One key finding: producer participation is growing. Read the full story here.


2. Activist chef Tom Colicchio joins MSNBC as its new food correspondent. With this move, MSNBC becomes the first national TV news outlet to cover food issues as a regular “beat.” In addition to appearing in segments on MSNBC shows, Colicchio will host his own weekly show.


3. Gastropod has produced a compelling narrative about a particular period in livestock breeding in the U.S., its relationship to an interest in human eugenics during that same time, and how those impulses intertwined in the quest to produce more milk.


4. Chipotle is winning accolades for its sustainability and business model. But the chain’s meals can pack a big caloric punch. The menu, analyzed and presented with terrific graphics and images. You may have to down-size. A great piece from the New York Times.


5. A protracted contract dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and West Coast ports is wreaking havoc on California’s agricultural industry. The union represents 20,000 workers; 29 ports have been affected by work slowdowns and shutdowns. The citrus industry is being hit particularly hard. It is the peak season for exports to China, Japan and other nations, and delays of several weeks are costing producers, packing houses and exporters millions of dollars each week.


Have a great weekend.