Good morning!

The UC Food Observer chooses some important stories for you to read each work day. On today’s packed menu, in no particular order:

1. In search of a drought strategy, California looks “down under.” There are lessons to be learned from Australia, a UC Irvine professor says. Dan Charles (@nprDanCharles) reports for NPR’s The Salt. Other drought news: New research released by NASA indicates groundwater pumping in California is causing land to sink faster than in the past. In some places, the rate is two inches per month. Infrastructure (roads, canals, etc.) are in jeopardy. Scott Smith reports for The Associated Press; this piece appears in U.S. News and World Report.

2. Soda tax? Mexico became the first country to impose a national soda tax; it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. How’s it working? Kate Kilpatrick writes a must-read piece for Al Jazeera America. It’s part of a three-part series on obesity in Mexico. We’re fans of Kilpatrick’s work. In other news, it’s being reported that Berkeley, California’s soda tax is fizzling. Proponents anticipated that the soda tax would increase soda prices and encourage residents to avoid them. Read this piece from Futurity.

3. Research: does coffee boost chances of surviving bowel cancer? Learn more; reporting by the Belfast Telegraph. A new report indicates that recalls of organic food are on the rise. Read more. Stephanie Strom (@ssstrom) for The New York Times.

4. The state of Florida is telling a creamery that produces all-natural skim milk with nothing added that it must label its product as “imitation.” Interesting article by Brendan Farrington (@bsfarrington) appearing in The Washington Post.

5. Food map. Vox produces an engaging piece mapping food expenditures around the world. No surprise: Americans spend a smaller amount of their budget on food than the rest of the world. A really #goodread by @bradplumer.

6. History and culture. If you have some time to dig in today or over the weekend, thumbs up to this podcast featuring the work of historian and author Rachel Laudan (@rachellaudan). The podcast is hosted by Russ Roberts (@econtalker); it runs slightly over an hour. In it, Laudan discusses a wide range of topics, including how various styles of cooking spread and why French cooking has elite status. Laudan also talks about modern food culture, including McDonald’s and the local food movement. Russ Roberts has organized an excellent resource page for the podcast; it’s also worth the time to read the comments section. Environmental art: The Knight Blog (produced by the Knight Foundation) has published a nice post about restoring land through environmental art.

Have a great day!