We hope it’s been a good day! We’ve lined up a few things for you to dive into this afternoon: a couple of studies, some commentary about one of the studies and a #longread by one of our favorite historians, Ryan Reft.


Report: Food bikes and the mobile food revolution. Interest in mobile food is growing. This report – funded via a Community Engagement Fellowship award from the UC Berkeley Food Institute, in affiliation with the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) – was prepared by John Romankiewicz. He looked at the potential of food bikes “to serve as a low-capital, low-footprint alternative to food trucks that could enable entrepreneurs to launch or expand their businesses.” Bay Area focus, but useful information for projects in other areas. Interesting read.


Race and labor. Food and agriculture. Past and present. We include two news reports that cover an important University of California (UC) study that looks at race and gender segregation in America’s restaurants. The news pieces highlight different findings. The UC report – “Ending Jim Crow in America’s Restaurants: Racial and Gender Occupational Segregation in the Restaurant Industry” – is essential reading. It looks at national findings as well as wages and employment patterns in California. The study was conducted by Dr. Chris Benner of UC Santa Cruz and the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley (led by Dr. Saru Jarayaman, who is also the co-founder of ROC – Restaurant Opportunities Centers United).

Key findings? Across the nation, those working in restaurants are about three times as likely to live in poverty as workers in other sectors. Racial and gender bias are significant issues.

Tara Duggan writes about the report for the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a #goodread and Duggan includes some terrific quotes from Jarayaman. Khushbu Shah writes about the report’s findings for Eater. This piece includes a response to the study from the National Restaurant Association. (Spoiler: it’s not a positive response).

ICYMI, Jarayaman has recently written an op-ed for the New York Times on the history of tipping…and how the tipped minimum wage feeds pay inequity. Provocative reading.


Gentlemen farming and immigrant labor in the creation of the San Fernando Valley. You probably know that the UC Food Observer loves history. A site that we’re continually intrigued with is Tropics of Meta (ToM). We suggest that you bookmark it.

Co-Editor Ryan Reft is a University of California alum, earning his PhD from UC San Diego in urban history. Reft writes a lot about the interplay between urban, suburban and rural in Los Angeles County, weaving historical with contemporary themes.

His latest piece considers the role of Japanese and Mexican American labor in creating economic growth in the San Fernando Valley and how that – ironically – contributed to the Valley’s “image of whiteness.” Reft considers a 2011 book written by Yale Professor Laura Barraclough: Making San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege (Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation).


Have a great evening.