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 Q & A with one of California’s foremost experts on water, UC’s Doug Parker; the future of Cuba’s socialized ice cream parlor; a retired army general says that childhood obesity is a serious national security issue; a moving story about the drought’s impact on a young farmer in California’s Central Valley; and a major international report on global food and agriculture is released.


1. Q & A: UC’s Doug Parker on California’s drought. Doug Parker is the director of the University of California’s Water Institute. In this interview, he talks about the drought’s impacts, and what the future might hold for California agriculture. “I find it rather disturbing that some people see this as an urban vs. agriculture issue…I myself am happy to be able to cut back on my water use so that it can be used to grow food. What greater use of water do we have?”


2. A little known piece of Cold War history persists in Cuba, created by Fidel Castro. An ice cream lover who longed to outdo his North American rivals, Fidel Castro founded Coppelia – a state-run ice cream parlor. It provided ice cream, but also came to “embody Cuba’s revolutionary ideals.” How will it fare as relations with the United States normalize? A gem from The Guardian.


3. Don’t retreat from healthy school lunches. An important opinion piece linking the school lunch program and childhood obesity to national security appears in Reuters this week. Written by Retired Army Lieutenant General Samuel E. Ebbesen, a member of the national-security organization Mission: Readiness (@Mission_Ready), it argued that holding a firm course on the nation’s school lunch program is vital. The program has been under political fire from groups seeking to roll back some of the recent changes.


4. With his well running dry, this young farmer draws on his resolve. From all the news about California’s drought, this emerges: a deeply moving piece about Adam Toledo, a young farmer from near Terra Bella, in California’s Central Valley.  An important read. Diana Marcum (@DianaMarcum) writes for the Los Angeles Times.


5. Healthy food for a healthy world. More than one-quarter of the world’s population is at serious health risk from malnutrition. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has issued a new report, Healthy Food for a Healthy World: Leveraging Agriculture and Food to Improve Global Nutrition.  The report suggests that it is vital to make nutrition a priority in the global food system by improving access to healthy foods, driving economic growth in developing nations, and increasing the incomes of 2.5 billion small-scale farmers (many of whom suffer from malnutrition).


Other good reads: Q&A with farmer Chris Sayer, and Counter Histories, a collection of films and online resources documenting the desegregation of Southern restaurants during the Civil Rights movement.

Have a great weekend.