Good morning! Lots of news today: Food safety. Olive oil and health. Two pieces on the environment. California wildfires. And a Q&A with Dr. Pedro Sanchez about what normalized relations between Cuba and the United States might mean for the food systems of both nations.

Food safety…forward motion? It’s estimated that one in six Americans is hit with a food borne illness each year. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – the most sweeping reform of American food safety regulations in seventy years – was passed by Congress late in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama in 2011. The legislation focuses on preventing outbreaks and promised to give the Food and Drug Administration – which provides safety oversight for about 80% of the nation’s food supply – authority most of us would assume it already has. Sounds great, right? But nothing happened. Some pieces to read today about what’s going on. First, Julia Belluz writes a helpful piece for Vox that explains the basics of FSMA and provides a timeline. Belluz covers medicine, public health and global health for Vox; she’s also a Knight Fellow. One of Belluz’ primary sources for this piece is Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University (she also writes a terrific blog, Food Politics), who told Belluz this about FSMA: “Consumers should expect safer food.” There is a fascinating story behind the delay in implementing FSMA, which was written by Helena Bottemiller Evich for Politico: Why President Obama and Congress turned their backs on food safety. On the heels of this blockbuster article, the U.S. Senate agriculture appropriations will hold a food safety hearing this week. Bottemiller Evich reports on national food policy and agriculture; in his farewell column for the New York Times, Mark Bittman put her on his short-list of important voices in this area. One of our other daily reads is Bill Marler’s blog. Marler is a leading expert on food safety; his blog and Twitter feed provide commentary on food safety issues, litigation in this area and essential updates on food poisoning outbreaks.


Environment. The threat to oceans from climate change must be key to upcoming Paris talks, scientists say. A major study of plankton shows warmer seas could have a huge impact on the marine food chain. Fiona Harvey for The Guardian. Mapping the #CAdrought. One of the graphics we often share on Twitter is the weekly map of drought severity produced by the federal government. What we didn’t realize is that the maps aren’t generated by computers…rather, they are created by hand. A really interesting read by Kelsey Fitzgerald for Water Deeply; you even “meet” one of the artists.


Health research. A Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil may reduce breast cancer risk, per a study of nearly 4,000 women. Results of the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain, appear in today’s JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association. Allison Aubrey reports for NPR’s The Salt.

California Wildfires. A bad situation got worse over the weekend when another fire – the #ValleyFire – broke out in Lake County. The fire exploded from 450 acres to more than 25,000 acres in less than 24 hours and has continued to grow. Because of the dynamic and evolving situation, the best information has been available on Twitter. Key follows:  Ed Joyce (anchor/reporter covering environment) of Capital Public Radio News. Others: Cal-Fire Public Information Officer Berlant. Gadi Schwartz of NBC4 Los Angeles and his team provided amazing ground-level video that was shared widely on social platforms. A heartbreaking read about the difficult decisions a fire crew faced in Middletown. Randi Rossman for The Press Democrat.  Hashtags: #ValleyFire #RoughFire #ButteFire.


What might normalized relations between Cuba and the U.S. mean for the food system in both nations? Read our Q&A with Dr. Pedro Sanchez, World Food Prize emeritus and 2004 MacArthur Fellow.


See you soon. It just started raining in the #805 and we’re holding good thoughts for the rest of the state.