The 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: Could buying smaller fruit save California’s drought-stricken farms? Meet moringa: the world’s latest superfood. Farm-to-Fable. The history of L.A. through menus. Can Latin America do palm oil right? And play with technology…the Eat Well Guide has relaunched!


ICYMI, we’re sharing our Q&A with Roger Doiron (@rogerdoiron), founder and director of Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), a Maine-based nonprofit network of over 30,000 individuals from 120 countries. He and his group are taking a hands-on approach to (re)localizing the food supply through gardening. Doiron came onto the national scene with his successful proposal and petition campaign to replant a kitchen garden at the White House. An incredibly interesting conversation with a leading figure in the food gardening world.


1. Could buying smaller fruit save California’s drought-stricken farms? David “Mas” Masumoto is a third generation California farmer who grows organic peaches, nectarines and raisins on an 80-acre farm south of Fresno. Like many producers, Masumoto is facing extraordinary challenges as a result of California’s persistent drought. To conserve water, Masumoto provided less water to his peaches. The fruit he’s getting from his trees is small, but Masumoto says it tastes “great.” But the fruit isn’t selling, likely due to a consumer bias towards small or “imperfect” produce. There is really bad news in this for the Masumoto family, because they view “the smaller fruit as the product of a long-term philosophical shift rather than just a short-term way to ride out the drought.” They are adapting to new realities. A fabulous piece by Steve Holt (@TheBostonWriter) for Civil Eats. #EatSmallFruit


2. Meet moringa: the world’s latest superfood. It seems that every day we learn about a new (to us) food that may hold the secrets to health, longevity and sustainability. In this piece – written by Nathanael Johnson (@SavorTooth) for Grist – the author introduces us to moringa, which might really be the next big thing…for a lot of reasons.


3. Farm to Fable. The farm-to-table movement has been good for producers, restaurants and consumers. It has helped support local economies and enabled restaurants to feature locally grown produce. Farm-to-table has also enabled consumers to vote with their forks, and patronize businesses that support their values. It’s been a win-win-win. But like every good movement, farm-to-table has been co-opted. Troy Johnson writes a compelling piece about fraud, deception and “honest mistakes” for San Diego Magazine.


4. The history of Los Angeles through menus. In this piece, which appears in The New Yorker, Nicola Twilley writes about a new book and exhibition – To Live and Dine in L.A. – that traces the growth and changing demographics of one of our nation’s great cities: Los Angeles. The hook? The basis of the book and exhibition is a collection of more than 9,000 restaurant menus – dating from 1875 to the present – found in the Rare Books Room at the Los Angeles Public Library.  A fantastic read.


5. Can Latin America do palm oil right? An increasing number of food and personal care products contain palm oil, which is produced by the oil palm tree. The oil palm tree is native to West Africa, and it’s being planted throughout Latin America to meet growing demand. The crop has “drawn international ire due to the large-scale deforestation and social harm large plantations have caused, with some advocacy groups even calling for palm oil bans.” Shorter? Its production is contributing to deforestation of rainforests. Duncan Gromko (@DGromko) writes a fascinating piece for Ensia, exploring the complex issues surrounding the production of palm oil.


Technology: Grace Communications Foundation has revamped – and relaunched – its Eat Well Guide. The Eat Well Guide is a project of Sustainable Table, and was originally launched in 2003. It’s a curated, national directory of more than 25,000 farms, farmers’ markets, restaurants, co-ops and other retail outlets that provide locally grown, sustainably produced food. The new guide is mobile-friendly and GPS-driven. Users can search by location or category, or use city guides to create and find tailored listings.


Have a great weekend!