UC Food Observer chooses a handful of important stories for you to read as you finish your work week. On the menu, in no particular order: a Q & A with Michael Pollan; a piece about an English shepherd; California mandates water restrictions; women farmers network through potlucks; and immigration reform dreams have soured for New York dairy farmers.


1. Q & A with Michael Pollan. Michael Pollan is an award-winning journalist, a prolific author, a professor at the University of California Berkeley, and a fierce and tireless advocate for sustainable living. He is one of the most compelling and influential voices of our time, and a thought leader on many subjects, including food, agriculture, the environment, health and public policy. In this Q & A, he talks about California’s drought and its implications for the state, the need for a national food policy, and what’s inspiring him about the younger generation.


2. The shepherd’s life. Meet James Rebanks, a shepherd with an Oxford degree who hails from England’s Lake District, where his family has raised sheep for generations. Rebanks has become a Twitter phenomenon, which led to an article in the Atlantic Monthly…and that led to a book contract. Stephen Moss has written a must-read profile of Rebanks for The Guardian.


3. California orders mandatory water rationing. California Governor Jerry Brown took executive action on Wednesday, ordering the California Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water use restrictions across the state, with a 25% reduction identified. Agriculture, the state’s largest user of water, would be “required to report more water usage information to the state so that regulators can better find waste and improper activities.”


4. Women farmers network through potlucks. The number of farms run by women in America has increased; women are listed as the principal operators of 14 percent of the nation’s farms. As the number of women farming increases, so does their need to connect. In Wisconsin, women farmers are breaking bread together at potlucks. The shared meals provide valuable opportunities for networking…and have inspired a national movement.


5. Immigration reform hopes have soured for New York dairy farmers. Stalled immigration reform efforts in congress are impacting dairy farmers. The increasing popularity of yogurt – coupled with drought in other milk-producing countries – has led to an economic boom for dairy producers. But farmers are struggling on the labor front. They rely on immigrant labor; current immigration laws limit farmers to employing only seasonal agricultural workers, and dairies require year round labor.


Have a great weekend.