As summer approaches, I find myself using the longer days to read more. Here are some suggestions for books and articles.


I’m currently reading Common Ground: Encounters with Nature at the Edges of Life. Written by Rob Cowen, it’s providing insights into “edge-land” and giving me a new perspective about the natural life I encounter in my urban neighborhood. It’s also making me realize that my friends who farm on the peri-urban interface face many challenges. This book is so good it makes my heart ache. (Many, many others agree; the book has been critically acclaimed by BBC and Guardian).

I’m also reading Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods, a terrific book by Jennifer Jordan. She wends her way deftly between past and present. A complete education.

What are you reading? Tweet your suggestions to me @UCFoodObserver.

News Stories

Here are links to a few important stories…

Retailers increase ads/displays of sugary drinks on days SNAP benefits are issued. A new study appearing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates that “there were higher odds of in-store sugar-sweetened beverage marketing during SNAP benefit issuance days (first to ninth days of the month) compared with other days of the month, particularly for sugar-sweetened beverage advertisements…” H. Claire Brown pens an important piece digging into the research, including interviewing one of the researchers. The discussion includes suggestions about the study’s implications and possible policy “fixes.” Link to the abstract of the study here. Link to Brown’s full piece, appearing in New Food Economy


Amid drought in Texas Panhandle, farmers scratch crops from dust. The Panhandle is dry and farmers depend on the Ogallala Aquifer in some part to grow their crops. The Panhandle is in the midst of a drought and the aquifer is being drawn down. What’s sustainable in the future? What are the options available to the region’s producers? Stunningly good piece by Henry Gass for Christian Science Monitor. There are two reading options: a quick read and a long read. Take the long way home on this one. Pair with this piece by Nathanael Johnson for Grist – Are Avocados Toast? – which explores how some California farmers are adapting to a changing climate. This excellent piece – which is traveling far – features UC Food Observer guest blogger Chris Sayer (Chris penned If Farm Dogs Ran the World, and more. Follow him on Twitter for important insights into farming in coastal So Cal).


A Democrat in Iowa farm country hopes to flip a red congressional seat. Interesting profile of aspiring congressman J.D. Scholten. A good read by Brian Barth, this piece is a collaboration between Food and Environment Reporting Network and Mother Jones.


Hurricane Maria spurs food sovereignty conversations in Puerto Rico. Prior to the hurricane that devastated the island last year, Puerto Rico imported approximately 85% of its food. Some on the island are pushing for food independence and increased resiliency on the food front. That conversation is also raising larger issues about the island’s future and the nature of its relationship with the United States. Thoughtful read by Jenna Miller for NPR Food.


California Invasive Species Action Week. Californians can help in the fight against invasive species by learning and participating during California Invasive Species Action Week, June 2–10. As part of the week’s activities, UC ANR’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program invites the public to spend lunch in a series of webinars learning about invasive species, including tree killing pests, aquatic nasties like quagga mussels and nutria…and how the invasive weed/wildfire cycle is altering our ecosystems.

One of those invasive species is citrus greening disease, which threatens the state’s citrus trees. Learn more below.

Have a great week!