UC Food Observer chooses five important stories for you to read as you finish your work week. On the menu: A leadership change at USAID; a call for fair trade products to improve the plight of Mexican farm workers; poultry processing, China and the U.S. school lunch program; what a popular Vietnamese soup tells us about complex issues facing the global food system; and a piece on how we might view sustainability through the lens of faith.

We’ve also added some sweet stuff about the science behind the best pie crust, for dessert.

Happy reading!


1. Rajiv Shah, director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will relinquish his post early in 2015. Speculation abounds. Read more here.

2. In an op-ed that is gaining national attentionthe Los Angeles Times tells consumers that they can help Mexican farm workers by requesting that stores carry more fair trade products. The op-ed is in response to a series of four articles detailing the stark living and working conditions of Mexican farm workers producing food destined for the U.S.

3. Poultry processed in China may be out of U.S. school lunches. Democratic congressional leaders included a provision in a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would prevent poultry processed in China from being used in the federal school lunch program and other food programs. Will the president sign the bill? Read more here.

4. “Hu tieu” is a popular Vietnamese soup featuring rice noodles and shrimp. Global demand for the soup’s two primary products – rice and shrimp – has brought unprecedented prosperity to Vietnam.  Now it appears that the global demand for these products is threatening local resources. And climate change is part of the mix. What soup tells us about the complex challenges facing the global food system.

5. Can fish be both sustainable and kosher? Award-winning author and fisheries/sustainability expert Paul Greenberg sets out to answer that question by exploring the complexities and nuances of how faith can shape the ways in which we view our food. Read his conclusions here.


On the dessert cart: Pie ala (science) mode: UCLA research explores the “how” and “why” behind the best pie crust. An explanation, a Tumblr and a YouTube video.