There are so many terrific food and agricultural pieces out now. I’m taking a *break* from book writing to share a few of my favorite pieces with you.


The agriculture beat is a crucial lens on a changing climate

Chris Clayton is one of my favorite ag/food policy writers (and an excellent person to follow on Twitter). In this important piece appearing in Columbia Journalism Review, he writes about the ways in which climate change could/should be informing how media reports on ag/food. He writes:

“Fewer and fewer journalists use their beats to report on the natural intersection between climate change, agriculture, and food. This is especially true on the local and regional levels where, much like the environmental beat, the ag beat has largely disappeared.”

And this:

“American journalism is just scratching the surface of potential climate hazards to national and global stability. Our food supply must support a planet with a population that has doubled since 1970, and is projected to add a couple billion more mouths to feed by midcentury.”

Clayton’s commentary is part of a compelling series of “Survival Stories” appearing in CJR. Each is a fantastic read. Hie thee there.


Organic or starve? Can Cuba’s new farming model provide food security? 

Roger Atwood reports about the changing Cuban agricultural economy in this #mustread piece from Food & Environment Reporting Network and its media partner, The Guardian.

“Cuba lost 80 percent of its international trade in the three years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The result was severe food shortages. Castro dubbed it “the Special Period in peacetime,” a euphemism for what many Cubans describe as one of the worst traumas of their lives. It dragged on for five years, but its psychological effects lasted much longer.”

The result? A shift from export-oriented sugar production to a focus on producing food for consumption on the island nation.

Editor’s Note: In the summer of 2016, I visited Cuba with members of the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance. As part of my preparation, I interviewed Dr. Pedro Sanchez, an agronomist who was born and raised in Cuba. Read that Q&A here.

As described in Atwood’s piece, Cuba has a robust organic agriculture sector. It’s serving as a platform for agritourism and education efforts…and providing a space for capitalist enterprise. I wrote about my visit to Finca Ecológica, a farm/restaurant that offers insights into the Cuban food system. It’s part of a farm-to-table movement that is booming in Cuba and speaks to the growing trend for small business enterprises being encouraged by the Cuban government as the IMG_0648economy diversifies and land continues to shift into private ownership.You can read that Q&A here.

There’s a lot to learn – and unlearn – about Cuba. That was a key takeaway from my trip. One of the most interesting individuals that I met was Marc Frank, an American journalist who has lived in Cuba for more than two decades. Marc writes for Thomson Reuters and the Financial Times. He also is the author of two books, the most recent being Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana, which examines the impacts of U.S. policies toward Cuba…and considers what the future might hold. Read my Q&A with him.


“Agrihoods” a growing trend

Good-bye golf course living…hello, agrihoods! These new neighborhoods/housing developments are built around working farms. There are about 150 such developments in the U.S….and more in development. Really interesting piece by Tanza Loudenback for Business Insider. Related: California developers add a touch of luxury to the “agrihood” trend. Jack Flemming for my local paper, the Los Angeles Times.


Provocative series on immigration from Boom California

Boom California has become a daily (guilt-free) pleasure. A UC Press publication, it describes itself as “a free refereed online media publication dedicated to inspiring lively and significant conversations about the vital social and cultural issues of our time in California and the world beyond.” It hosts “academic conversations” via peer-reviewed articles that are “public facing” – these are lively and well-written pieces that deal with practical social concerns.

Here are links to three of Boom’s latest pieces.


Imagining a world without waste

Could you go a week without producing trash? Check out this University of California video interview. It certainly inspired me to do better.